Issue Nine

•July 23, 2019 • Leave a Comment

TexasPhilosophical.wordpress.com

Publisher/Editor: Eli Kanon

Reviewers: Vaughn Baltzly, Anthony Cross, Russell Moses, Burkay Ozturk, Nevitt Reesor and Paul Wilson.

Essays:

Christian William Culak, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Dream Beliefs

Nathaniel Stagg, The University of Texas at San Antonio, A Defense of Compassionate Unity

Kyrie Garlic, Texas A & M University, Meat as a Vehicle for Womanhood

Hannah Feagain, Texas State University, The Harms of Makeup Usage

Jordan Dunlap, Texas A & M University, Terrorism and the State of Nature


Dream Beliefs

Christian William Culak

You are sitting on a bench at the park near your home, and you hear a voice from behind you that resembles your best friend’s voice. Consequently, you unconsciously form the belief ‘my best friend is behind me’.1 Everything seems normal. You turn around and see your best friend. However, your best friend is not really there, and you are not really at the park. You are dreaming! Since you are dreaming, you neither heard your best friend’s voice nor saw your best friend. Does this mean you did not really form the belief that ‘my best friend is behind me’?

At least some philosophers, such as Ernest Sosa, would think you did not really form a belief in this case. Why? Well, if nothing of your belief was really there, then there was nothing for you to form a belief about. (Sosa (2017). 26-34)2 Besides, beliefs formed while awake seem to be retained while we are asleep.3 So, perhaps our belief-forming processes are ‘turned off’ while we are dreaming.

However, I am inclined to disagree with Sosa. When I dream that I am sitting on a bench at the park near my home, and I dream that there is a voice nearby resembling my best friend’s voice, there are in fact representations on which my belief is based. Of course, these representations do not correlate with facts. And beliefs formed from such representations need not correlate with facts. But beliefs can be formed from non-veridical representations in dreams since, I argue, these non-veridical representations are fundamentally composed of veridical representations arranged and presented to the dreamer. If beliefs can be formed from such representations, then beliefs can be formed while dreaming. Thus, my goal is to show that beliefs can formed while dreaming.

Part I is a discussion of what it is to dream. I appeal to the imagination model of dreaming as the interpretation of dreams. Moreover, I defend this model by providing reasons for it and reasons against the traditional Cartesian interpretation of dreams. Part II explains how representations occur in dreams. In this section, I provide Sosa’s argument against the claim that we can form beliefs while dreaming. I reject his argument and appeal to Hilary Putnam’s externalist view on representations and a weak functionalism for my favored account of belief formation.4 Part III sets up my argument that beliefs can be formed while dreaming. I defend each premise and address some potential objections I anticipate. First, we begin with what it is to dream.

Part I: Dream States

There are two main points I want to discuss about what it is to dream. The first is that a phenomenological distinction between dreaming and being awake can be made. The second is that dreaming is the experience of being in another state—not another world. Let us first begin with the traditional interpretation of dreams that states there is no phenomenological distinction between dreaming and being awake.

Rene Descartes argued that the phenomenological similarities between dreams and reality are so alike that it raises concerns about whether we are awake or only dreaming that we are awake. (Descartes (1993), 13-17) In his first meditation, Descartes provides a dream where he is sitting next to the fire, in his winter dressing gown, while holding a sheet of paper. Seemingly, these normal conditions are phenomenologically indistinguishable from actually sitting next to the fire, in a winter dressing gown, while holding a sheet of paper.

However, another interpretation of dreams—the imagination model of dreaming—makes an important distinction that Descartes fails to make. (Ichikawa (2008), 519-520) When we dream, the experiences in dreams are distinct from experiences while awake. When Descartes is sitting next to the fire while awake, he feels the heat from the flames. But in a dream, there is no heat. Not only that, there is no feeling of heat either.5 Rather, the experience of sitting next to a fire in a dream is wholly imaginative. In other words, we have sense experiences such as hearing, seeing, and feeling while awake, but these experiences do not occur while dreaming. If this is true, then we can phenomenologically distinguish between being awake and being in a dream state.

With this interpretation of dreaming, we seem to see and seem to hear in dreams. But these seemings are just imaginings that resemble the sense experiences we are familiar with while awake. If we can phenomenologically distinguish imaginative experiences from sense experiences, then we can phenomenologically distinguish dreaming from being awake.6

As of yet, I have avoided using the term ‘dream world’. This is because one may mistakenly assume that what it is to dream is to experience another world. But this is not plausible. There are trivial reasons to believe dreaming is a dream state and not a dream world. These include that beliefs formed while awake are retained through dreaming and that dreams can be influenced by happenings in the real world. However, a more philosophically interesting reason is that the imaginative elements that are presented to the dreamer are fundamentally and only composed of properties that are experienced while awake.7

Dreams can be weird. In dreams, we imagine things that we would never see, hear, or feel while awake. For example, in a dream, there could be a color-changing, eight-legged dog in front of me that only utters ‘Bonjour’. As odd as this would be, all these imaginings share something in common: they all have been extracted and re-presented from sense experiences. Though this combination of visual and audible sense experiences would most likely never occur, each element exists—color-changing effects, legs, dogs, French greetings. In other words, all the elements in dreams come from sense experiences in some way. There is no dream where I imagine something that either I have not experienced while awake or cannot conceive using things I have experienced while awake. If this is true, then when we dream, we do not experience another world. Rather, we remain in the same world as being awake while having imaginative experiences in a dream state.

Given this discussion, we can reasonably take the position that what it is to dream is to be in a dream state that is phenomenologically distinguishable from being awake. Though this provides us with a working model of dreams, this does not explain whether we can form beliefs while dreaming. In order to argue this, let us first discuss what representations are.

Part II: Representations & Dream Beliefs

When I am presented with normal combinations (i.e. sitting on a park bench) or bizarre combinations (i.e. psychedelic, French-speaking canines) of imaginative elements, is there anything being presented to me? That is to say, are there representations in dreams? My inclination is to say that there are.

Though dreams may seem to be an entirely internal phenomenon, we can appeal to Hilary Putnam’s externalist view about representations to argue that representations occur in dreams. His view states that representations require a causal connection between a thought and what that thought is about. (Putnam (1981), 22-48) For example, if I think about a particular bench that is at the park near my home, my thought is causally connected to that particular bench. But thinking about that bench while awake is different than dreaming about that bench, though both are causally connected. How so?

Earlier I explained that imaginative experiences in dreams come from sense experience or from the world in some causal way. When I dream about that particular bench, my imaginative experience of that bench is causally connected to that actual bench from my sense experience of that bench (seeing it, sitting down on it, etc.). The causal chain may look something like this:

That particular park bench exists –> I see a representation of that park bench–> I conceptualize that park bench –> I unconsciously form the belief ‘there is that particular park bench’ using that concept as content of my belief.

However, when I am awake and at the park, the representation of the bench, when I look at it, is from my sense experience of the bench. But when I am dreaming, I am presenting the representation of the bench to myself. Yet, this representation goes down a causal chain to the same bench I experienced while awake, but the chain is a bit longer:

That particular park bench exists –> I see a representation of that park bench –> I conceptualize that park bench –> I retain that concept in my sleep –> That concept manifests as a representation in my dreams –> I unconsciously form the belief ‘there is that particular park bench’ using that concept as content of my belief.

If it is true that the representation of that particular park bench can occur in my dreams, then representations can occur in dreams.

Even if there are representations in dreams, can beliefs be formed while dreaming from those representations? It seems so to me, but before presenting Sosa’s argument against belief-formation while dreaming, Sosa makes a distinction between an imaginative experience while dreaming and an imaginative experience in dreams that is worth discussion. For example, I may be sitting on a park bench in my dream but I am not sitting on a park bench while dreaming. The latter is not true because “sitting on a park bench” presupposes that I am in fact sitting on a park bench and that I am doing so while dreaming, but really, I am lying in my bed. Thus, in the latter sense, there is no representation of sitting on a park bench since there is nothing for the representation to correlate with.

However, this does not show that beliefs cannot be formed while dreaming. Rather, this shows that beliefs cannot be formed without a representation. Sosa takes the position that beliefs cannot be formed while dreaming because we cannot directly engage with the external world while dreaming.

Sosa’s argument against belief-formation while dreaming can be construed as such:

(S1) Belief-formation involves a representation.

(S2) Representations are about things in the external world.

(S3) While dreaming, we have no ability to form beliefs about an experience of a representation about something in the external world.

(S4) Because we do not have this ability, we cannot form beliefs about an experience of a representation while dreaming.

(S5) Therefore, beliefs cannot be formed while dreaming.

While Sosa does mention that representations in dreams are non-veridical (Sosa (2017), 27) and beliefs formed from those while dreaming are not proper, (Sosa (2017), 30-31) his rejection of belief-formation rests on the agent not engaging with a representation while dreaming. This is not to say that while dreaming is what prevents the agent from forming a belief, but rather if the dreamer cannot engage with a representation then a belief cannot be formed about that representation.

My problem with Sosa’s argument is (S3). Sosa claims that thoughts or affirmations about representations in dreams, while dreaming, are not proper thoughts or affirmations. (Sosa (2017), 33-34) Since these are not proper thoughts or proper affirmations, proper beliefs cannot be formed while dreaming.8 However, as I explained with Putnam’s externalist view on representations, representations in dreams can be causally connected to the external world. Furthermore, thoughts formed in a dream can be retained once awake (i.e. while dreaming, have the thought that you are in your bed and then retain that thought once awake). If so, we can engage with such representations while dreaming. And this is compatible with both Putnam’s externalist view on representations and Sosa’s appeal to a functionalist conception of belief. (Sosa (2017), 28) Let me explain this functionalist conception of belief.

Sosa’s appeal to a functionalist conception of belief suggests that he commits himself to accepting an attitude as a belief if and only if that attitude causally relates to sense experiences. One interpretation can formulate this conception as a strong version of functionalism.9 The strong version states that I could not have a belief about causally related, sense experience-based thoughts such as conceivable, metaphysically improbable objects—i.e. psychedelic French-speaking canines—since such objects are, as a whole, not causally related to sense experience. However, this is no problem for objects that are, as a whole, causally related to sense experience such as that particular park bench near my home.

Whether I am thinking about that particular park bench while awake or dreaming of that particular park bench, the thought and imaginative experiences while asleep are both causally connected to that particular object as a whole. If this is true, then this allows for representations to occur in dreams in accordance to Putnam’s view of representations. If the imaginative experience of that particular bench, as a whole, is a representation, then that representation is eligible for belief-formation in accordance to this functionalist conception of belief. If this is true, then we may have an instance of a belief that can be formed while dreaming. We are now prepared to present an argument for belief-formation while dreaming.

Part III: Belief-Formation While Dreaming

Putnam’s view on representations and the functionalist conception of belief discussed above provide the foundation for an argument that beliefs can be formed while dreaming. A concern with belief-formation while dreaming is whether the dreamer can respond to the representations in a way that allows for belief-formation to occur. I think the dreamer can do so. My argument for belief-formation while dreaming is as follows:

(C1) A representation of a particular object, in dreams, is causally connected to that particular object.

(C2) While dreaming, we may unconsciously respond to representations the same way we unconsciously respond to representations while awake.

(C3) If we can respond to representations while dreaming the same way as being awake, and such responses while awake allow for belief-formation, then we can form beliefs while dreaming.

(C4) Therefore, we can form beliefs while dreaming.

Let us investigate each premise.

(C1) has been established through my discussion of Putnam’s view on representations in Part II. Though representations are presented to and from myself in a dream, these representations are causally connected to the external world. For representations of particular objects, the representation of an object, as a whole, is causally connected to that particular object as a whole. Whether that representation is in mind while awake or dreaming, that causal connection is there.10

In regards to (C2), of course there are exceptions to it. Given that awakened experience is sensory and imaginative, and dream experience is solely imaginative, dream experiences lack sensory responses. However, take into account several instances of unconscious responses to representations while awake: unconsciously forming the belief ‘my mother is talking to me’ when I seem to hear her voice on the phone; unconsciously forming the belief that ‘it is now 11:11am’ when I seem to read ‘11:11am’ on my computer screen; unconsciously forming the belief that ‘sound is being produced from that instrument’ when I seem to see and hear someone play a guitar—and there are countless other instances of this. Now, while dreaming a normal dream, the same kind of unconscious responses happen as well.11 When I dream that I am sitting on a park bench, I unconsciously respond to that representation with (at least the seeming of) forming a belief that ‘I am sitting on a park bench’. And when I dream that I hear my best friend’s voice, I unconsciously respond to that representation with forming a belief that ‘my best friend is nearby’. If this is true, then we can unconsciously respond to representations in normal dreams the same way we unconsciously respond to representations while awake.12

I indirectly touched on (C3) in the last paragraph. It is reasonable to conclude that we unconsciously respond to representations in many dreams the same way we unconsciously respond to representations while awake. The common unconscious response while awake is a formation of a belief. When I seem to read ‘11:11am’ on my computer screen while awake, I unconsciously form the belief that ‘it is now 11:11am’. Though the causal connection between the belief and the representation is one of sense experience, imaginative experiences seem to suffice as well. If, while awake, you tell me to imagine a color-changing, eight-legged dog in front of me that only utters ‘Bonjour’, I would unconsciously form the belief that ‘it is possible to conceive such a bizarre animal.’ If this is true, then beliefs connected to representations through imaginative experiences can be unconsciously formed while awake.

Moreover, if while daydreaming I imagine a color-changing, eight-legged dog in front of me that only utters ‘Bonjour’, I will not actually form the belief that such a thought is veridical. But while awake and not daydreaming, my wakened non-imaginative states interact with my other wakened non-imaginative states.13 Similarly, dream states interact with other dream states more like how wakened non-imaginative states interact with other wakened non-imaginative states. This is because while dreaming, such imaginative states are presented to the dreamer in a way that the dreamer is inclined to think is veridical. Even though the dreamer is wrong, the inclination is there while such an inclination is absent while daydreaming.

My thesis is not the radical claim that belief-formation occurs in every dream. Rather, my thesis only states that it is possible in normal dreams, involving representations of particular objects, to form unconscious beliefs while dreaming. If this is true, then beliefs can be formed while dreaming.

Endnotes

1Beliefs and linguistic tokens are encompassed in inverted commas while propositions, emphasis, and concepts are italicized.

2This is greatly simplified. I provide Sosa’s reasons and my construed version of his argument in part II.

3If, before I go to sleep, I hold the belief ‘I need to leave to school by 8:50am tomorrow’, and tomorrow I awaken with that belief, then this is a belief that is retained while I am asleep. Supposedly, one could argue that the belief is not retained but rather the belief is lost while asleep and regained once awake. However, this does not explain why the belief returns, while assuming that it is retained, does.

4Because of this, my paper is written on the assumption that sense experiences are caused by an external world.

5Though I cannot provide a proof that dreams and awakened states are phenomenologically distinguishable, my reasons are anecdotal. When you think back to a time when you sprinted, you can recall being winded by the end of that sprint. Now think about if you dreamed that you sprinted. You can recall the dream, but can you recall being winded by the end of that dream-sprint? Perhaps not, and perhaps not because there was no experience of being winded. If so, then perhaps dreams and awakened states can be phenomenologically distinguished upon reflection of the dream once awake. Moreover, just because you cannot phenomenologically distinguish the dream in the dream does not mean dreams and awakened states are not phenomenologically distinguishable.

6An important distinction: ‘imaginative’ while awake refers to conscious activity of imagining something (i.e. daydreaming that you are somewhere else) whereas ‘imaginative’ while dreaming refers to the unconscious imaginative state you are in with respect to the imagination model of dreaming.

7Imaginative elements are psychological objects and phenomenal experiences such as the appearance and memory of chairs, redness, loudness, and can be (consciously or unconsciously) combined into something through imagination.

8This is with the assumption that for a belief to occur, a thought must occur too. So, if an unconscious belief is formed, then an unconscious thought occurred in relation to that belief.

9Sosa does not make a distinction between different versions of his conception of belief. However, we can appeal to a strong version of functionalism and still show that beliefs can be formed while dreaming even if Sosa does not endorse this strong of a version of functionalism.

10Objection: A representation in a dream does not seem causally connected to the external world because the representation is of the thought you have of that particular object—not the particular object itself. Even if we grant this, the objection does not explain where that thought comes from. Seemingly, the thought comes from sense experience of that particular object, and this just adds another link to the causal chain. If we reject this, and there is in fact an external world, we are then left wondering where the thought comes from. Alternatively, one could just simply reject that thoughts are causally linked to the external world, and such a move would require a reformulation of representations in order to show that dream beliefs are proper beliefs.

11Objection: There is a blind acceptance of abnormal conditions in many dreams. Many times, when we dream, circumstances are alarmingly odd—such as opening the door to your bedroom and there being nothing but an ocean in front of you. In these circumstances, there is a phenomenon where the dreamer accepts it without any thoughts or feelings as to how bizarre or non-veridical it is. But I am open to exceptions. Of course, we do not respond the same way in every situation while dreaming as we do while awake. However, the fact that we do respond the same way in many normal, uninteresting dreams as we do if we were awake is what (C2) points out.

12Objection: Though how you respond to representations in dreams may be the same as how you respond to representations while awake, the responses themselves are not the same. Since responses in dreams are responses to imaginative experiences, these responses are not with sensory experiences, and thus we cannot equate the two responses. Of course, imaginative experiences are not the same as sensory experiences, and because of this, responses to each respective experience differs (one is an imaginative response while the other is a sensory response). However, responses to imaginative experiences while awake seem to be the same as responses to imaginative experiences while dreaming—an imaginative response to an imaginative experience. The response is the same even if there are sense experiences involved with the imaginative experience while being awake.

13By ‘non-imaginative’ states, I mean sense experiences that are provided by the senses and not through imaginings. By ‘imaginative’ states, I mean experiences of things that are imagined such as the experience of having thoughts, hallucinations, and dreams.

Works Cited

Descartes, Rene. “Meditation One: Concerning Things that Can Be Called into Doubt,” Meditations on First Philosophy, Hackett Publishing Co., ed. 3, 1993.

Ichikawa, Jonathan, “Skepticism and the Imagination Model of Dreaming,” The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 232, 2008.

Putnam, Hilary. “A problem about reference,” Reason, Truth, and History, Cambridge University Press, 1981

Sosa, Ernest. “Dream Skepticism,” Epistemology, Princeton University Press, 2017.


A Defense of Compassionate Unity

Nathaniel Stagg

Schopenhauer’s ethical theory is particularly peculiar in that it primarily centers upon one ethical phenomenon: compassion. For Schopenhauer, compassion is the only source of moral action and serves as the lone source of motivation for alleviating suffering. In a paper entitled Beyond Empathy: Compassion and the Reality of Others, Matthias Schloßberger attempts to criticize Schopenhauer’s ethical theory by claiming he endorsed a constructivist approach towards compassion itself. In the following pages, I will first demonstrate why such a claim seems to contradict Schopenhauer himself in both the text that Schloßberger referenced (On the Basis of Morality) and in a separate text, entitled The World as Will and Representation. Second, I will provide an account of why the unwieldy metaphysical commitments necessary for Schopenhauer’s theory of compassion may not be as ridiculous as they seem and possess some degree of plausibility.

Two primary schools of thought concerning compassion are relevant: compassion as direct realism or compassion as a construction. A direct realist believes they possess unmediated access to another person’s feelings; particularly, their suffering. This unmediated access differs drastically from emotional contagion—wherein one’s emotional state is often subconsciously influenced by the immediate environment—and is more likened to the plainness of directly apprehending suffering, much like you or I would apprehend a physical object. A compassionate person literally ‘sees’ and feels another person’s suffering and chooses to act altruistically in order to reduce that suffering as if it were their own. On the other hand, the constructivist employs a vastly different approach. When someone suffers, the constructivist maintains that the only reason anyone perceives the suffering is because they (the observer) construct a version of themselves in the sufferer’s position. The observer notes how they would feel in such a scenario, then acts compassionately out of this imaginative calculation. While a more archaic version of this theory—formulated by Ubaldo Cassina—relies strictly upon compassion as a function of imagination, a more modern version of this theory are mirror neurons (Acharya, Samarth).

To return to our original focus, Schloßberger argues directly against constructivism in regards to compassion. In the beginning sections of the paper, Schloßberger claims that Schopenhauer functions as an exemplar of the constructivist account:

[Schopenhauer] starts out from the basic inaccessibility of the other mind, and therefore assumes that the only possibility of understanding other people lies in temporary identification with them. . .this argument obviously requires an isomorphic definition of compassion (compassion understood as an alignment of my emotional state to the other person’s emotional state. (Schloßberger, 2-3)

While Schloßberger’s paper does pull from an important work of Schopenhauer, I argue that the claim is false in the context of both On the Basis of Morality and a further work, The World as Will and Representation. My critique is twofold: first, it appears that Schopenhauer himself pointedly denies a constructivist approach on several accounts, most notably in On the Basis of Morality. Second, Schopenhauer’s metaphysics explicitly require a direct realist account of compassion in light of his Indian philosophical and religious sources.

The most damning instance of Schopenhauer’s denial of a constructivist account appears in Chapter V of the third part in On the Basis of Morality. In this, Schopenhauer directly critiques Ubaldo Cassina, stating that:

This [Ubaldo’s account] is not in the least the case. The conviction never leaves us for a moment that he is the sufferer, not we; and it is precisely in his person, not in ours, that we feel the distress which afflicts us. We suffer with him, and therefore in him; we feel his trouble as his, and are not under the delusion that it is ours. . .The explanation of the possibility of this extraordinary phenomenon is, however, not so easy. . . The key can be furnished by Metaphysics alone. . . (Schopenhauer, 175)

In this quote, however, there does appear to be a delicate tension between Schopenhauer’s critique of Cassina and his own account of compassion. At first glance, it appears that Schloßberger is correct in his assignment of a constructivist account to Schopenhauer, as evidenced by the fact that Schopenhauer later claims that “This, however, presupposes that I to a certain extent have become identified with the other. . I no longer see the stranger, who is entirely unlike myself, and to whom I am indifferent. . .” (Schopenhauer, 204). Upon closer examination, however, neither segment of Schopenhauer’s work clearly demonstrate a constructivist approach.

The key in resolving the aforementioned tension and rebutting Schloßberger’s claim lies in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of compassion. Earlier in Chapter V, Schopenhauer defines compassion as “. . .direct participation, independent of all ulterior considerations, in the sufferings of another, leading to sympathetic assistance in the effort to prevent or remove them” (Schopenhauer, 170). By direct participation, Schopenhauer actually means something quite radical: Schopenhauer references a literal destruction of individuation—the mechanism by which we differentiate ourselves from another person—and subsequent alleviation of suffering as if it were our own. From this point, “. . .we see the wall of partition, which, according to the light of nature (as reason is called by old theologians), entirely separates being from being, broken down, and the non-ego to a certain extent identified with the ego” (Schopenhauer, 171). Schopenhauer believes that a compassionate individual literally sees no difference between their own person and another. As such, Schopenhauer cannot possibly have a constructivist approach to compassion in mind. The constructivist actively asserts the existence of an individuating barrier between the other’s perceived suffering and their own being. As a reaction to this suffering, the constructivist must then ‘construct’ a version of themselves in the sufferer’s position. Schopenhauer’s account is far more subtle; when a person is compassionate, they do not perceive another person. Thus, when Schopenhauer earlier stated that a compassionate person does not feel the sufferer’s suffering as their own, he means that the suffering experienced by a compassionate individual is not broken down into the sufferer and the compassionate; both are one together, and the compassionate individual altruistically alleviates the suffering of the sufferer as a result of this fundamental lack of individuation between the two of them.

The source of this seemingly arcane metaphysical commitment can be found more clearly within another work of Schopenhauer’s, entitled The World as Will and Representation. Here, Schopenhauer claims that:

If the veil of Maya, the principium individuationis, is lifted from a human being’s eyes to such an extent that they no longer make the egoistic distinction between his person and that of others. . .then it clearly follows that such a human being. . .must also regard the endless suffering of all living things as his own, and take upon himself the pain of the whole world. (Schopenhauer, 405)

There is not only a complete lack of individuation between the sufferer and the compassionate individual, but an assertion that the compassionate one feels all suffering. From this point, it is quite clear that Schopenhauer’s metaphysics heavily pulls from Indian philosophy and religious texts; specifically, the Vedas and Chhandogya Upanishad. Schopenhauer heavily relies upon the Indian roots of his metaphysics, all of which emphasize the unity of being for all things and the alleviation of suffering as a result of a lack of individuation between the sufferer and the one who perceives and alleviates suffering (Krishnananda, 138-151). This conceptual framework behind Schopenhauer’s metaphysics is, in fact, what allows Schopenhauer’s account of compassion to function. The compassionate individual acts as if the suffering of all were his own, abandons the principle of individuation, burns the veil of Maya, and radically pronounces Tat Tvam As (Thou art that, ancient Indian sanskrit demonstrating the metaphysical unity of all things) over his own being and the being of all things through his compassionate action. It is not possible for the compassionate individual to reconstruct themselves in the sufferer’s position because the truly compassionate individual functions with the tacit knowledge that there is no other.

Given these metaphysical commitments, it seems clear that it is impossible for Schopenhauer to truly have a constructivist account of compassion. Not only does Schopenhauer directly criticize the view itself, but Schopenhauer believes that the compassionate individual has direct and unmediated access to the suffering of all things. There are doubtless many problems with this account of compassion, many of which Schopenhauer himself anticipates. To reduce Schopenhauer’s account to a mere case of constructivism does a disservice to his account of compassion as a whole and fails to take into account the context of both Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and the Indian religious and philosophical sources from which he drew.

Perhaps the reduction of Schopenhauer’s account of compassion stems from perceived charitability towards the account itself. Schopenhauer’s metaphysics appear radical even on a modest interpretation; speculatively, it seems reasonable that Schopenhauer’s account is reduced to constructivism is an attempt to make his metaphysics palatable—or, at the very least, maintain some degree of plausibility.

I believe that even the radical version of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics maintains a similar level of plausibility if understood through a particular ontological lens, and I am not alone in this belief. Max Scheler, the philosopher to whom Schloßberger attributes a correct account of compassion, believes the perceived radicality of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics comes from a set of ethnocentric a priori (inasmuch as the term can be used in this context) beliefs inherent in Western civilization.

In Scheler’s work entitled The Nature of Sympathy, the claim is made that perhaps that Indian philosophy as a whole approaches ontology far differently than the Western world. From the times of Aristotle, Plato, and early Christianity, an aristocratic viewpoint concerning all of the world apart from humanity has dominated Western thought processes (Scheler, 79, 81, 84). We have become accustomed to thinking of ourselves in a particular, hierarchical world order; the subjugation of nature is nearly (if not entirely) a God-given duty. On the other hand, Indian religion and philosophy approach the world in an entirely different manner. Instead of utilizing an aristocratic approach to the world wherein man looks down upon nature, Scheler claims that Indian philosophy and religion looks nature in the eye and considers themselves a mere part of a whole (Scheler, 79). To quote, the Indian

. . .[has] neither the Northern European conception of Nature, as something to be dominated and controlled, nor, like the Greeks, a detached admiration and love for her plastic patterns and forms. The Indian lives in Nature, identifying his life with hers, and with the felt plentitude of her universal creation. (Scheler, 79).

Perhaps if we examined our ontological commitments and our hierarchical place in the world, we would find the unity of being espoused by Schopenhauer—and Indian philosophy as a whole—far more palatable. This, of course, is no proof for the metaphysics of either; it is transcendental in nature, and thus distinct from the set of things which could be proven. Embracing this particular perspective of the world and humanity’s place in it, however, adds a layer of plausibility to Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and—at the very least—serves as an item for thorough thought.

From this point, contrary to Schloßberger’s account, it seems clear that Schopenhauer embraces a direct realist perspective of compassion. Schopenhauer himself directly criticizes the constructivist approach simply because of the metaphysics for this ethical phenomenon that Schopenhauer has in mind: unity of being. For Schopenhauer, compassion is not possible without a rending of the veil of Maya and a dissolution of the principle of individuation. Both of these ideas borrow heavily from Indian philosophy, which is a linkage that should be considered when evaluating Schopenhauer’s ethics and metaphysics. Perhaps philosophers misplace a constructivist account onto Schopenhauer simply to make his account of compassion more palatable; however, as attractive as this initially may be, the move is ill-advised. To do so misses the subtlety of Schopenhauerian ethics and metaphysics and ignores the clear link to Indian philosophy and religion. If one were to abandon the preconceived hierarchical and aristocratic notions of humanity fostered by Western civilization, perhaps one would find Schopenhauer’s metaphysics to be far more attractive; or, at the very least, somewhat more plausible. Schopenhauer was a groundbreaking philosopher who incorporated—if not co-opted—Indian religion and philosophy into his philosophical works, and it would seem wise to consider the background literature behind his works before attempting to render his philosophy into a more appealing form.

Works Cited

Acharya, Sourya and Samarth Shukla. “Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain” Journal of natural science, biology, and medicinevol. 3,2 (2012): 118-24.

Schlossberger, M. “Beyond Empathy: Compassion and the Reality of Others.” Topoi Special Issue: Empathy, Fiction and Imagination (Editors: Susanne Schmetkamp and Íngrid Vendrell Ferran), Academia.edu, 2019

Scheler, Max. The Nature of Sympathy. Archon Books, 1970.

Schopenhauer, Arthur, et al. The World as Will and Representation. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Schopenhauer, Arthur. “On the Basis of Morality.” The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Basis of Morality, The Project Gutenberg, Feb. 2014, www.gutenberg.org/files/44929/44929-h/44929-h.htm.


Meat as a Vehicle for Womanhood

Kyrie Garlic

Metaphors, commonly taught in elementary school curriculum as comparisons without the use of “like” or “as,” play an important role in language.  They do serve in the aforementioned capacity, contrasting “two terms normally regarded as belonging to different categories of experience” (Foss 285), but they are also much more than literary devices.  Language has been realized as a means by which we understand our reality and metaphors are an extension of that, enabling speakers to constitute the world however they want based on the metaphor they apply (Foss 286).  Metaphors elucidate the values of a reality by linking certain unlike things.  In the same way, a rejection of a certain metaphor indicates a rejection of certain values.  Metaphor is “not supplementary or subordinate” to an argument but is an argument in and of itself (Foss 288).  A rejection of a metaphor is a rejection of an argument.

Women have been using language to defend themselves as equal members of society since as early as the 15th century, when Christine de Pizan penned works such as Epitre au Dieu d’Amour [Epistle to the God of Love] and La Cité des Dames [The City of Ladies].  This eventually evolved into feminism: “a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements” that share the common goal of “defin[ing], establish[ing], and achiev[ing] political, economic, personal, and social equality of the genders” (Feminism).  Feminism can be divided into three main waves, each wave referring to a particular era dominated by a particular mindset.  First wave feminism, from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, was concerned with women’s suffrage; second wave feminism, from the early to late 1990s, campaigned for social and political equality; third wave feminism, from the 1990s onward, sought to remedy issues second wave feminists did not address and continue the fight for equality (Feminism).  Sometimes a fourth wave of feminism is described, focusing on justice for women in terms of sexual harassment and violence (Feminism).  However, there are some individuals who would claim that we are now in a postfeminist era, that gender equality has already been achieved and the movement is no longer necessary.  The application of certain metaphors in common language proves otherwise.

Metaphor, as previously described, illustrates a perceived reality and the values of that reality.  Certain metaphors in today’s society are indicative of presently patriarchal values that still require rejection.  The rejection of these metaphors proves that gender equality, at least on a social scale, has not been fully achieved.  One such metaphor is the metaphor of women as meat.  This particular comparison has been around for at least the past fifty years, appearing in a college newspaper article from the 1970’s where a woman wrote that, in attending a college party, one was either “a nobody in a room full of strangers [a man], or a piece of meat [a woman]” (Margolis).  As this saying has become more popular over time, so has its negation, with women repeatedly reminding the world that they are not pieces of meat, that they are more.  This essay seeks to analyze this rejection of meat as a metaphor for womanhood and what implications that rejection offers.

Metaphor can be broken down into two parts: the tenor and the vehicle.  The tenor is the thing being described while the vehicle is the lens through which the tenor is viewed (Foss 285).  The former is often a more abstract topic that is difficult to define and the latter sheds light through its concreteness.  In the metaphor of Woman as meat, “Woman” functions as the tenor, indicating “Woman” is an indefinable notion.  What is Woman?  This very question was once addressed by Simone de Beauvoir’s “Introduction: Woman as Other” in her book The Second Sex.  Woman is not a gender that makes up half of humankind, but a concept that is constantly defined and redefined by society.  She was once thought of as simply in possession of a womb (Beauvoir), but a woman can possess a uterus and still not be a woman, so this cannot be the case.  She was then labeled as feminine, but femininity is just as abstract as Woman.  So, what is Woman?

The fact that the question is even asked, according to Beauvoir, holds significance.  The fact that Woman is so abstract that she provokes metaphor is significant.  How often do men feel the need to reject the metaphors perpetuated by our reality?  The need by women to reject metaphors, contrastingly, is abundant:  I am not a piece of meat, I am not a number on a scale, I am not just a body, and so forth.  All these metaphors tie to physical appearance, something Woman is constantly reduced to.  She is indefinable as a concept, so the world must use metaphor to describe her.  Woman, in the same way, must reject these comparisons if she is going to be thought of any other way.

Metaphor is not necessary to describe man because man is concrete.  He does not require comparison because he is the standard for comparison, “representing both the positive and the neutral, as is indicated by the common use of man to designate human beings in general” (Beauvoir).  Plato’s Theory of the Forms explained that everything we see is a mere imitation of a greater ideal.  Woman is seen in a similar light as compared to man.  She is a faulty imitation of “an absolute human type, the masculine” (Beauvoir).  Aristotle once argued that female nature should be regarded as “afflicted with a natural defectiveness” since “the female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities” (qtd. in Beauvoir).  Man is the norm, the Absolute, not requiring definition or metaphor, and Woman is the Other in need of defining (Beauvoir).

The tenor of the metaphor has certain implications, but the vehicle does too.  Metaphor is employed to emphasize certain characteristics and de-emphasize others.  The rejection of meat as a means to describe Woman indicates a rejection of certain underscored traits.  What does meat represent?  Why does Woman reject it?  A vehicle is thought to be a concrete object, but is meat really concrete?  The Oxford English Dictionary offers five different definitions that are in some way related to food.  One directly connects meat to womanhood by defining it as “the human body (esp. a woman’s body) regarded as an instrument of sexual pleasure.”  While meat is not concrete, the assumptions that abound alongside it are, as is evidenced by the aforementioned definition.

Meat is a symbol of masculinity.  In her book The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Political Theory, Carol J. Adams attributes this to a superstition that “in eating the muscle of strong animals, we will become strong” (11).  When women reject meat as a metaphor for womanhood, it is unlikely that they are rejecting its strength.  If being identified as a piece of meat were synonymous with being strong and independent, this conversation would be unnecessary.  However, meat, while it represents strength post-ingestion, simultaneously symbolizes passivity and objectification.  Meat-eating “enacts a literal dismemberment upon animals while proclaiming our intellectual and emotional separation from animals’ desire to live” (Adams 20).  The animal is reduced to a body whose sole purpose is to provide pleasure to those who indulge in it.  This new body is called “meat,” because it is no longer an animal.  Adams identifies this as the process of making animals “absent referents” through the process of butchering (20).

The term “absent referent,” as used in Adams’ book, was later defined in a video she recorded titled Politics and the Absent Referent in 2014 that was shared and transcribed by the Earthling Liberation Kollective, a political movement geared towards animal rights in tandem with social justice and equality.  The absent referent is defined as “the literal being who disappears in the eating of dead bodies” (Earthling Liberation Kollective).  She goes on to explain the three ways the absent referent functions:

Literally, an animal killed to become food or “meat”. Physically, the animal is dismembered–cut up, generally–sold off as body parts. So, the reminder that the animal was a full being, living a life, disappears. Then the third way is metaphorically. Their oppression, someone else’s oppression, becomes a metaphor for another group’s oppression.  (Earthling Liberation Kollective)

The animal is reduced to its parts through butchery.  Its worth comes not through its own existence but through what that existence provides to others.

In the same way that animals are reduced to body parts, women often are as well.  This is especially evident in commercials.  Carl’s Jr., for example, is notorious for overtly sexualized advertisements.  The clips usually featured models in bikinis, or shorts and shirts tiny enough that they might as well be bikinis, seductively eating Carl’s Jr. burgers (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  The camera would pan in on the woman’s scantily clad butt and breasts, which would usually be sweaty (Funniest Commercials Compilation), alluding to sexual exertion.  The advertisements were full of sexual references, with two or three of them overlaid with a track that sounded like a woman breathing loudly, and with one where the model faced the camera several times staring directly into it eating a burger sitting with her legs opened (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  An advertisement for a turkey burger described how Carl’s Jr. had hired the model Miss Turkey to help the viewers remember the burger and that they had put Miss Turkey in a bikini to help the viewers remember her (Funniest Commercials Compilation), as though the only way for a woman to be memorable is if the majority of her body is exposed.

The way these ads attempt to simultaneously invoke an appetite for sex and food relates to a “classic entangling of hunger and sexual desire” (Florio).  The women the commercials portray are reduced to “their breasts, their buttocks and their lips” (Krantz), fragmenting the female body into individually desirable pieces as though the whole were not in and of itself desirable.  This fragmentation allows the perpetuation and normalization of exploitation because the humanity of the model is more easily ignored (Krantz).  She becomes an object of sexual desire, no longer a person.  Female objectification is increasingly apparent in the kind of women who appear in commercialized media.  The women are always young, always curvy with full breasts and hips, always eager to please the viewer by staring the camera down while seducing the person behind the screen.

Another interesting part of these advertisements is the way they portray men in relation to women.  The men who appear are dressed normally and if they do appear shirtless, they are still not held to the same standards of physical perfection as the female models standing alongside them.  They are usually just spectators, watching and admiring the women.  In an advertisement for the Carl’s Jr. Tex Mex Thickburger, a group of white blonde girls representing “Tex” are playing volleyball against a group of brunette Hispanic girls representing “Mex” (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  The two sides are arguing over whether or not the hamburger is Tex or Mex (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  The camera cuts to a white man in a cowboy hat talking to a Hispanic man as the Hispanic man asks the other “Should we tell them it’s both?” (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  To this, the camera cuts back to filming the women on the Mex side from below so that their butts shaking in their tiny bikinis is clearly visible (Funniest Commercials Compilation).  The white man responds with “eventually” (Funniest Commercials Compilation), implying that they should enjoy watching the women for a little longer.  This same idea appears in another commercial where two women are in a barbecuing competition, still scantily clad.  The camera shows them bending over to cook the meat, giving the camera a straight-on image of their butts.  Two men off to the side pull out their phones to take pictures of the spectacle.

In the same way that the meat in the hamburgers symbolizes manliness, female objectification does as well.  Real men eat meat and real men treat women like meat.  In the same way that meat is meant to satisfy physical hunger and make a man (not a woman) feel stronger, women are meant to satisfy sexual hunger and make a man feel stronger.  This exploitation of the pieces of women is so normalized that some women accept or even encourage it.  Certain styles of women’s clothing emphasize the more voluptuous aspects of the female physique and there are special underwear (push-up bras and thongs) that accentuate the same parts.  Women do not want to be objectified and viewed as those parts alone, but they also realize that men pay attention to those parts of their bodies.  The system of objectification and exploitation is not preferred, but it is hard for a woman to be designated as attractive without exposing some measure of herself to male scrutiny.  Men are exposed to a myriad of oversexualized imagery of women, meaning women must either live up to that imagery or be ignored for women who do.  Again, this imagery connects back to what it means to be a man.  Real men—regardless of age—have a hot young woman at their side.

When women reject the metaphor of “woman as meat” there are a few things going on.  First and foremost, they are rejecting the notion that Woman is so simple a concept that she can be simplified to a single metaphor.  They are resisting classification as the Other.  Women say, “we are not pieces of meat.”  This “we” is significant.  One of the biggest obstacles the feminist movement has faced has been its inability to unite.  Because women “lack concrete means for organizing themselves into a unit which can stand face to face with its correlative unit” (Beauvoir), women as a whole have been unable to stand firm against men because they are more loyal to the men from their respective social or racial group than they are to women as a whole (Beauvoir).  The rejection of “woman as meat” is indicative of women taking a step away from Otherness and towards Oneness.  Women are not meat and they are united against anyone who tries to label them as such.

In addition to this, women are rejecting their constitution as pieces of meat.  Metaphors emphasize some qualities and diminish others and women (Foss 285), by rejecting this metaphor, are rejecting the qualities it emphasizes and diminishes.  They are refusing to be objectified and perceived as a mere sum of desirable parts.  They are refusing to be identified as a tool to increase masculinity and make men feel more “manly.”   They are refusing the notion that their purpose is to be subordinate and pleasure the opposite sex.

The metaphors we use in daily life affect “our perception of reality” and when women modify the metaphor associating them with meat through negation (Foss 287), they are modifying reality.  When a woman says, “I am not a piece of meat,” she is fighting for a better, more egalitarian perception of femininity.  She is fighting for a society with newer, better values.  She is fighting for a world where she is, put simply, not a piece of meat.

Works Cited

Adams, Carol J. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory.  Bloomsbury, 1990.

Beauvoir, Simone de.  “Introduction: Women as Other.”  The Second Sex, 1949.  https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/introduction.htm.  Accessed 27 February 2019.

Earthling Liberation Kollective.  “Carol J. Adams – Politics and the Absent Referent in 2014.” Human Rights Are Animal Rights, 01 January 2016. https://humanrightsareanimalrights.com/2016/01/01/carol-j-adams-politics-and-the-absent-referent-in-2014/. Accessed 06 May 2019.

“Feminism.”  Wikipedia, n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism. Accessed 06 May 2019.

Florio, Angelica.  “The Sexualization of Meat: What it means to be an “ass man.’”  Cipher Magazine, 19 February 2019. http://www.ciphermagazine.com/articles/2017/2/19/the-sexualization-of-meat.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

Foss, Sonja K.  “Metaphoric Criticism.”  Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, no. 5, Waveland Press, Inc., 2018, p. 285-296.

Funniest Commercials Compilation.  “Top 10 Sexiest Commercials from Carl’s Jr.”  Youtube.  09 March 2016.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOcfubXaft8.  Accessed 07 May 2019.

Krantz, Rachel.  “6 Ways the Meat Industry Objectifies Women.”  The Lily, 21 February 2019.  https://www.thelily.com/6-ways-the-meat-industry-objectifies-women/.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

Margolis, Lynn.  “Dorm Life Evolves into Zoo Story.” The Daily Collegian, [University Park, PA], 16 September 1976, p. 2.

“Meat.”  Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 2001.


The Harms of Makeup Usage

Hannah Feagain

A society’s culture directly influences the role and usage oaf makeup by its people. In ancient cultures, makeup was used to hide blemishes or deformities, to highlight culturally significant beauty, to distinguish social classes, and to heal maladies. Our current culture dictates frequent and widespread makeup usage by women, giving makeup a prominent role in the lives of many women. Although makeup usage is widely accepted in our society, individuals have polarizing reactions to it. Some people believe that wearing makeup can inspire confidence or improve your wellbeing. Others are under the impression that wearing makeup and beauty culture is harmful to people in our society. I argue on behalf of the latter and suggest that, given our existence within a society that seems to promote that we ought to avoid causing harm to others, perhaps we have an obligation to avoid perpetuating makeup culture by refraining from using makeup and halting our support of businesses that profit off of makeup culture.

Makeup has long received backlash for upholding and idealizing narrow beauty standards. A movement emerged amongst women who felt these strict beauty standards were restrictive and suffocating. In 1968, a large group of women arrived to protest and disrupt the Miss America beauty pageant, hoping to “protest the image of Miss America, an image that oppresses women in every area in which it purports to represent us.” (Gay, 2018). The pageant had many specific requirements for beauty contestants, including weight ranges, physical ability, and race. Despite changing ideas of beauty since the 1960s, many women maintain that conventional beauty standards are unfair. Today, there are two different approaches to the beauty standards counterculture: those who believe beauty should be more broadly defined and those who believe beauty should be less highly esteemed. The first group pioneered the body-positivity movement, with taglines such as “all bodies are beautiful” and “natural beauty”. This movement is extremely popular because it is an insubstantial feel-good concept, which makes it hard to criticize and easy to co-opt. The more radical anti-beauty group argues that beauty does not define one’s worth, therefore women are under no obligation to be beautiful. This group is less palatable because they question and criticize the motivations behind individual actions. For example, consider the question of whether a woman should shave her legs regularly. The body-positive movement suggests that regardless of the status of the hair on a woman’s legs, she is beautiful. It does not suggest that shaved legs are somehow superior to unshaven legs, or vice versa. The anti-beauty group denies that these decisions are equally valid because to shave is to continue upholding beauty standards while not shaving undermines them. Undermining beauty standards is important as a way to combat the idea that an individual’s worth is somehow tied to whether or not they undergo societally accepted grooming habits. Because makeup is deeply entangled in beauty culture, these groups act to diminish the importance of makeup usage, if not disapproving of it outright.

The existence and recent growth of these groups gave rise to a countermovement of pro-makeup, pro-beauty women. Many lifestyle websites cater to the pro-beauty movement, with articles such as AllWomensTalk’s “7 Convincing Reasons Wear Makeup” (Washington, 2012) or LiveStrong’s “7 Reasons Why Wearing Makeup Can Make You a Stronger Woman” (Bayless).The evidence this movement offers in defense of beauty are often seen in the form of scientific studies that link higher paying jobs with women wearing makeup (Quek, 2015) or increased perceived virtue with increased beauty (Dion, 1972). These arguments emphasize the positive results of makeup usage including increased confidence, personal enjoyment, and, of course, improved appearances. One Bustle article reads “people who wear a full face of makeup every single day by choice and not because of societal pressures are doing exactly what they desire when it comes to their looks. Completely owning the way you present yourself to the world in a way that feels right to you is nothing short of body positive” (Waller, 2016). These women assert that cultivating beauty, and thus using makeup, is a choice that benefits the individual without affecting anyone else.

Because of sexism and western beauty standards, women are pressured into makeup usage regardless of their personal interest in the practice. Western society uses operant conditioning techniques to rob women of their agency. According to the Ambivalent Sexism Theory, there are two types of sexism: benevolent sexism that rewards those women who comply with female gender roles and hostile sexism that punishes those women who subvert female gender roles (Glick,1996). Traditional gender roles encourage women to be feminine, passive, uneducated, unemployed homemakers. Because these traits minimize their ability to be self-sufficient, women are dependent upon men for their entire livelihood – which leaves them without leverage for any power over men. Benevolent sexism rewards following traditional gender roles because they maintain women in a subordinate position to men. Conversely, subverting traditional gender roles encourages women to be masculine, confrontational, sexual, educated, employed breadwinners. Because these traits lend themselves towards self-sufficiency, women are independent from men for their livelihood – which gives them leverage to contest men’s power over women. Hostile sexism punishes subverting traditional gender roles because they liberate women from men’s authority.  Because women’s power regulation both penalizes deviating from traditional roles and incentivizes following traditional roles, sexism acts as a social restraint that can inhibit women from practicing freewill. If women wear makeup as expected, they simultaneously avoid criticism and earn praise. In other words, hostile sexism can further restrain freewill by inflicting its punishments on those women who subvert traditional roles. For example, if a woman has bills to pay each month, she will need a job with steady income. As in the Jepersen versus Harrah’s Operating Company case, arriving without makeup means looking unprofessional and results in job termination (Title VII, 2006). It is worth noting that, while men also must follow certain dress codes of professionalism, the men’s regulations are notably fewer and less costly. Male professionalism often only requires basic personal hygiene and proper attire whereas female requires the same along with daily makeup usage, hair styling, and nail upkeep. These additional considerations use products that must be constantly replenished and repurchased. Because the woman has bills, she cannot afford to be fired and therefore must use makeup. The hostile sexism punishment acts as a financial restraint in this situation. Next consider the case of Aimee Toms, androgynous woman who was using a Walmart bathroom she was attacked after being mistaken for a male. (McNamara, 2016).The attacker’s internalized image of a woman did not include androgynous women, so Toms’s rejection of beauty culture made her a target for violence. If an androgynous woman does not want to face violence, she cannot afford to be interpreted as non-woman and therefore must use makeup. The hostile sexism punishment acts as physical restraint. Finally, think about the young girl who has always seen the women in her life wear makeup, from relative to friends to celebrities. She doesn’t know she can opt out of makeup when she turns twelve and gets it as a gift. The benevolent sexism reward for coming of age acts as a natural restraint. Yael Tamir asks “[W]hen is the body improved and when is it mutilated? Are parents who force their children to wear braces mutilating their children’s teeth or improving them? In most cases, the answer depends on one’s conception of beauty. Because we tend to see straight, white teeth as beautiful, and a sign of good health, we spend lots of money inflicting pain and inconvenience upon our children to achieve this goal. To be sure, parents say (sincerely) that these treatments will improve their children’s life chances, self-image, and social standing…” (Tamir, 2006). Female centric beauty standards work the same way. Women are punished for not partaking in certain beauty cultures here in the west involving makeup. Because these women are simply using makeup to avoid punishments by society, it is operant conditioning and not a fully autonomous choice as the pro-beauty movement may suggest. In this manner, women are pressured into makeup usage and adhering to beauty standards for fear of various punishments.

Furthermore, the sexism that influences makeup usage harms women as a whole. The current culture has deemed beauty as exceedingly important to our society, forming a so-called beauty culture. The institution of beauty has a widespread regime and economy, with the global cosmetic products market valued at around 530 billion USD. (John, 2018) It’s not just financial influence either. Studies have shown that people who are conventionally attractive are more likely to be perceived as good people and more likely to get preferential service treatment. (Dion, 1972). Women are ascribed social power according to their beauty. Attractive women have more influence over the people around them (both male and female) than average looking women. Despite this, women are simultaneously objectified and subjugated according to beauty. Beauty is a double-edged sword that is both desired and disdained because of everyday sexism. Sexism can be seen on institutional, interpersonal, and unconscious levels (Cudd & Jones). Unconscious sexism, sexism that is applied without conscious effort or external motivation, plays the biggest role in misogynistic makeup usage. In unconscious sexism, women are reluctant to see themselves as oppressed, while men are reluctant to see themselves as oppressors (Cudd & Jones). The lack of a critical analysis of makeup, used as a tool to create and perpetuate an unachievable standard of beauty, stems from unconscious sexism. Why do pro-makeup, pro-beauty women seek beauty through makeup? How can it empower them if it is used to subjugate them? These women do not want to acknowledge that they are participating in their own oppression and that the men they love, admire, and respect are their oppressors. While being attractive benefits both men and women, our society is more forgiving of unattractive men than unattractive women because women are expected to pursue beauty as part of traditional gender roles.

Additionally, makeup usage harms men by negatively influencing their perceptions of women and beauty. From gritty television shows to celebrity photoshoots on billboards, men are constantly bombarded by images of women in makeup. Men are so accustomed to seeing women in makeup that women’s bare faces often seem unnatural to them. Men tend to recognize women in bold brightly colored makeup as wearing makeup, women in subtle makeup as barefaced, and barefaced women as looking abnormal (Spelman, 2016).  As a result, men have deeply ingrained biases against barefaced women, who look unnatural, abnormal, or unhealthy to them. Furthermore, the objectifying and dehumanizing effect of makeup reinforces and normalizes discrimination against women, inciting men to behave poorly. As men are routinely being told through pornography, film, advertising, and dating that makeup is applied for their sexual gratification, they begin to justify their inappropriate comments or actions by the perceived sexual intent in how a woman wearing makeup looks.  For example, a woman wearing bright lipstick may endure degrading comments from random men suggesting fellatio, much to the amusement of his other male friends. When confronted for his inappropriate comments, the man would try to absolve himself of blame by insisting he was only kidding and asking why she would look so seductively if she did not want sexual attention. While the man is not truly absolved of blame, there is a structural issue at play that led him to behave in this manner and feel justified in it. Men are conditioned to behave in sexist ways by the makeup industry in western society. Poor treatment of women based on their makeup usage (or lack thereof), is unwarranted and should not be tolerated. By collectively refraining from using makeup, women can dismantle a power that encourages men to behave in a sexist manner by robbing the makeup industry of a consumer base. Women have the power to essentially starve a sexist society of fuel and help reform men’s character by halting makeup usage.

Finally, makeup harms women by negatively affecting the health of women. Many lip cosmetics have trace metals in concentrations much higher than that approved by the FDA (Gao), and eye cosmetics have been shown to destabilize tear film leading to dry eyes (Wang, 2018). These health concerns in unregulated makeup can cause long-term damage to women’s physical health.

The most common argument given in favor of makeup usage is women’s autonomy. Because women have personal and bodily autonomy, an intentional decision to use makeup, for whatever personal reasons, is potentially morally permissible. One study suggests there are two major functions of makeup usage: seduction and camouflage. Some women decide to use makeup to gain desired attention, while other women use makeup to avoid unwanted attention (Korichi,2008). Many women also choose to wear makeup because makeup improves their confidence and makes them feel powerful (Solo, 2018 ). Some women choose to wear makeup to respect tradition, often referencing makeup’s long and extensive history (Sohn, 2005). In these situations, one could argue that women are making the choice to wear makeup for personal reasons. However, this argument fails to address our moral obligation to avoid harming ourselves and others. Surely makeup usage can make women feel more confident at first, but it rarely fosters any sustainable character development for when the makeup is gone. When makeup isn’t as effective, such as in old age, these women will feel less confident and empowered. Pro-makeup culture fosters shortcuts and incentivizes minimizing personal growth. Similarly, honoring tradition does not absolve of our responsibility to consider the negative consequences of an action. Centuries of makeup usage could easily have harmed centuries of women, so tradition is not a mortally permissible argument for makeup usage either. Women’s autonomy does not supersede their moral responsibility. Women who use makeup are complicit in the harms afflicted upon others by upholding a system that promotes makeup usage and harshly punishes makeup disuse. We have a moral obligation to dismantle makeup culture by universally ceasing making usage and revoking our support of makeup and beauty industries.

Works Cited

Batres, C., Russell, R., Simpson, J. A., Campbell, L., Hansen, A. M., & Cronk, L. (2018). Evidence that makeup is a false signal of sociosexuality. Personality and Individual Differences, 122, 148–154. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1016/j.paid.2017.10.023

Bayless,K. (n.d.). 7 Reasons Why Wearing Makeup Can Make You a Stronger Women. Retrieved from Benevolent Sexism and Cosmetic Use: A Replication With Three College Samples and One Adult Sample. (2006). Journal of Social Psychology, 146(5), 635–640. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.3200/SOCP.146.5.635-640

Cudd, A. E., & Jones, L. E. (n.d.). Sexism. Wiley Blackwell. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1002/9780470996621.ch8.

Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is Beautiful is Good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(3), 285-290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0033731

Gao, P., Lei, T., Jia, L., Yury, B., Zhang, Z., Du, Y., … Xing, B. (n.d.). Bioaccessible trace metals in lip cosmetics and their health risks to female consumers. ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, 238, 554–561. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.03.072

Gay, R. (2018). Fifty Years Ago, Protesters Took on the Miss America Pageant and Electrified the Feminist Movement. Smithsonian Magazine Online. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/fifty-years-ago-protestors-took-on-miss-america-pageant-electrified-feminist-movement-180967504/

Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 491-512. Doi:10.1037//0022-351470.3.491

John, J. (2018). Global Cosmetic Products Market Will Reach USD 863 Billion by 2024: Zion Market Research. Zion Market Research. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/06/22/1528369/0/en/Global-Cosmetic-Products-Market-Will-Reach-USD-863-Billion-by-2024-Zion-Market-Research.html

Lee, T. L., Fiske, S. T., & Glick, P. (n.d.). Next Gen Ambivalent Sexism: Converging Correlates, Causality in Context, and Converse Causality, an Introduction to the Special Issue. SEX ROLES, 62(7–8), 395–404. https://doi-org.libproxy.txstate.edu/10.1007/s11199-010-9747-9

Minerva, F. (2017). The Invisible Discrimination before Our Eyes: A Bioethical Analysis. Bioethics, 31(3), 180–189. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=phl&AN=PHL2351535&site=eds-live&scope=site

Tamir, Y. (2006). Hands Off Clitoridectomy. Boston Review. http://bostonreview.net/yael-tamir-hands-off-clitoridectomy

Title VII. Gender Discrimination. Ninth Circuit Holds That Women Can Be Fired for Refusing to Wear Makeup. Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co., 444 F.3d 1104

(9th Cir. 2006) (en banc). (2006). Harvard Law Review, 120(2), 651. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.40042617&site=eds-live&scope=site

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Terrorism and the State of Nature

Jordan Dunlap

1. Introduction

One of the most prominent issues that has been brought into focus since the beginning of the twenty-first century is terrorism on a global scale. During a period of a war-like state of chaos, Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan, a treatise in which he lays out how humans may depart from a state of striving conflict and live with other people civilly, in turn, allowing for the presence of just and unjust actions. In this essay, I will explore two different facets of Hobbes’ moral theory and how they each prove to be problematic in their application to the contemporary issue of international terrorism. The first of these problems that I will analyze is Hobbes’ assessment of moral psychology that he puts forth in his theory and how it fails to give a compatible record of the motivations of terrorists. Specifically, I will examine the concept of fear as it pertains to terrorist organizations and how this poses a problem for Hobbes’ theory. I will do so by explaining how the threat of international terrorism contributes to the sustainment of a contemporary state of nature, and how it threatens the social order that is curated under the establishment of sovereigns around the globe. Furthermore, I will examine terrorist organizations and their relation to fear in a different light in order to confirm the problem that terrorism creates in our ability to leave this state of nature. The second part of this essay will look at the fallaciousness of Hobbes’ moral theory and how it cannot be used as a solution to international terrorism. In order to do so, I must demonstrate an account of what I believe Hobbes would provide as a solution to terrorism. After this, I will identify a logical inconsistency that is detrimental to Hobbes’ moral theory. Lastly, I will explain why Hobbes’ solution is problematic. This essay will consider both the question of whether or not an Hobbessian approach can deter terrorism or explain the wrongness of terrorism.

1.1 The Laws of Nature

In order to understand Hobbes’ ethical treatise and how it pertains to terrorism, I must first outline the laws of nature. According to Hobbes, when people retain all of their rights, they are in the state of nature, or a condition otherwise known as war (Hobbes 66). In contrast, a law of nature “is a command or general rule, discovered by reason, which forbids a man to do anything that is destructive of his life or takes away his means for preserving his life, and forbids him to omit anything by which he thinks his life can best be preserved” (Hobbes 59). Submission to and acceptance of the laws of nature require an individual to lay down the rights that they would otherwise have the ability to exercise in the state of nature. Thus, a right “consists in the liberty to do or not do as one chooses;” whereas “law picks on one of them—either doing or not doing—and commands it” (Hobbes 59). The first law of nature conforms to this pattern by commanding that everyone ought to aim to follow peace and be guided by that peace (Hobbes 60). Hobbes builds the second law of nature from the first. The second law of nature says that when a person “thinks that peace and self-defense require it, he should be willing (when others are too) to lay down his right to everything, and should be contented with as much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself” (Hobbes 60). Hobbes says that when people lay down their rights in this way, they are transferring them to the governing sovereign through a contractual agreement. This sovereign may do what it qualifies as required action in order to enforce and maintain the sustainment of peace. The reason that the sovereign must act in this manner is because when people have retained all of their personal liberties, they are in a war-like condition, meaning that the state of nature is still present (Hobbes 60).

1.2 Defining the Phenomenon of Terrorism

In order to adequately assess the task at hand in this essay, the laws of nature are not the only locutions to be defined, for they are not the sole subject of inquiry. The other criterion whose definition is sufficient for the development of our argument is that of what terrorism actually is. Although there are many conflicting descriptions of this phenomenon, I will attempt to put forth a characterization that will encompass the central ideas of most of them. Throughout this essay, any reference to the phenomenon of terrorism will be synonymously known to mean “the deliberate use of violence, or threat of such, directed upon civilians in order to achieve political objectives” (Kapitan 2). It should be clarified that civilians or noncombatants are usually not viewed by terrorists as innocents. As Tomis Kapitan points out, including this stipulation in our definition of terrorism “is likely to make terrorism exceedingly rare given that political violence is often committed by those who act from outrage over perceived injustices and who do not think their targets to be ‘innocent’ of these injustices” (Kapitan 3). In addition, an act cannot be viewed as falling under our definition of terrorism simply because of the results that a particular action achieves (Kapitan 3). If this were the case, then authorized killings on behalf of a government’s military forces as well as on behalf of a terrorist organization could be classified as almost identical. However, from a political standpoint, this is simply not the case. In fact, the two acts are viewed as quite different from one another. With that being said, the initial motivations of the terrorist must be taken into account; thus, “the perpetrator must have a political objective and identify the targets as civilians” (Kapitan 3).

It should be noted that the employment of  “terrorism” (as it is used, perhaps, in dialogue or scholarly discourse) typically has an indexical characteristic, meaning it “[bears] an implicit reference to the speaker’s point of view, so that, for practical purposes, ‘terrorism’ is coextensive with the phrase ‘terrorism is against us’” (Kapitan 4).

Since the usage of this word has a speaker-oriented bias, it may appear paradoxical to some since there is not an objective acknowledgement of when terrorism actually takes place. A further problem that some might have with this aspect of our definition is that it portrays the combatant forces of a sovereign as terroristic. However, these worries are irrelevant in regards to the aims of this essay. This is because I will narrow my scrutinization to instances of terrorism that take place internationally and are committed by terrorist organizations. Thus, I will not include acts of terror that take place within the residential borders of a nation. For example, the atrocities committed between the Hutus and Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide can be classified as institutionalized or domestic acts of terror, but they cannot be classified as international acts of terror. This is because, quite simply, the acts of terror aimed to terrorize a member of either one of these groups, which both happened to reside within the borders of Rwanda.

In order to address any worry of the state appearing similar to a terrorist organization, I will intentionally exclude nations and sovereign governments sovereigns from my analysis. Instead, I will only be looking at remote, non-governmentally affiliated organizations that were formed in order to inflict acts of terror on the civilians of a particular nation outside of their own. What I mean by this, is that these organizations do not submit to the rules of any sovereign, but rather, they adhere to the commands of their organization and the message that they seek to fulfill and communicate through acts of terror. Throughout this essay, I will provide descriptively relevant criteria as it pertains to Hobbes’ moral theory and the laws of nature in order to cultivate a more concise portrayal of the phenomenon as it pertains to the purposes of this essay.

2. The Problem of Fear in Hobbes’ Moral Psychology

Hobbes further explains that the “fear of violent death and of wounds disposes men the same way and for the same reason,” and thus, “desire for ease and sensual delight disposes men to obey a common power” (Hobbes 44). It is the fear of death that provides people with motivation to depart from the state of nature and to transfer some of their liberties in order to be ruled by the sovereign. Moral philosopher at New York University, Samuel Scheffler, points out that, for Hobbes, fear can be used to create a kind of social order, since fear is a passion that relates to power (Scheffler 12). There are two reasons that Hobbes believes fear to be a convincing reason to obey the sovereign. The first reason is that “fear is a genuinely material phenomenon” which Hobbes describes as “the belief that one will ‘be hurt [by] the object’ of aversion” (Williams 96). Since Hobbes describes aversion as a movement away from an object of distaste, the perception of a displeasing object can be said to generate this aversion (Hobbes 22). In turn, when it is not possible to move away from this object, aversion turns into fear (Williams 96). Secondly, “relying on fear is promising because of its apparent universality,” since, as Hobbes believed, “nothing is less desirable than death—or more universal” (Williams 96).

Just as the sovereign is meant to instill fear into its subjects to assert itself as a ruling dominion in order to create an established social order, terrorist organizations use fear within the state of nature. When people are under the rule of a sovereign, fear is oriented toward the sovereign; in turn, people are able to depart from the state of nature and enter into a condition of civilized order (Scheffler 13). When people are no longer living in fear of each other, they are able to fear the power that the sovereign has by obeying its laws (Scheffler 13). This is how social order is sustained. However, how can it be the case that the sovereign has established a kind of social order that allows us to leave the state of nature, when terrorist organizations have proven successful at using fear in a way that is similar to the sovereign? Acts of terror are typically committed “in order to elicit fear…so that those reactions can in turn be exploited to promote the perpetrators’ ultimate, destabilizing objectives” (Scheffler 9). By seeking to harm innocents, “they aim to produce fear within some larger group of people, and they hope that this fear will erode or threaten to erode the quality or stability of an existing social order” (Scheffler 5). Hobbes claims that the state of nature is present when an individual experiences a continuous feeling of fear that a violent death is approaching (Hobbes 58). It is unimportant whether or not terrorists are actually killing millions of people within a particular country; however, it is significant to Hobbes that they continuously instill the fear of death within its occupants (Williams 99).

The mere threat of terrorism is enough to weaken the sovereign’s authority over its subjects because of the way that fear is no longer monopolized by the sovereign. Hence, fear becomes decentralized and redistributed. Terrorist organizations do not necessarily seek to establish themselves as a governing state. Instead, they seek to cause the disruption of another. Even though victims of terrorism “may harbor ongoing and deep-seated fears of attack, it is less clear that terrorists experience the same” (Williams 100). Thus, although it is the case that legislating sovereigns across the globe may have established a government that creates a social order within their own countries, the threat of terrorism digresses these efforts, resulting in a wide-spread, international state of nature. Hence, the way that terrorist organizations use fear as a distinctive threat to peace explains how we are contemporarily residing in a Hobbesian state of nature.

Since each state preserves their right of nature in order to ensure its survival in the state of nature, and because there is not an international sovereign to rule all nations, the impending menace of global terrorism causes a state of war to be present. Moreover, when people live “without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in the condition known as war,” and “where there is no common power, there is no law; and where there is no law, there is no injustice” (Hobbes 57). What, then, would Hobbes propose in order to resolve this issue? In alignment with his suggestions in Leviathan on how to depart from the state of nature, the most likely Hobbesian solution would be to formally establish a hegemony that rules as an international sovereign in order to create a condition of peace (Williams 97). Furthermore, a hegemony that acts as an international sovereign would “impose rules, and just as importantly enforce them” (Williams 97). Likewise, this hegemony would be a Hobbesian solution to terrorism because this type of sovereign would “exercise its might, [by] employ[ing] sanctions and incentives to gain control over the tools of terrorism and hence subdue it” (Williams 100).

Hobbes’ solution of entering into a social contract and transferring some of our rights to a sovereign is a problematic approach to the solution to international terrorism. He explains that people should obey the commands of the laws of nature as legislated by the sovereign and enter into a social contract as “it can never be [the case] that war will preserve life and peace destroy it” (Hobbes 73). An assumption of Hobbes’ entire treatise on moral philosophy, and a command of the laws of nature is that humans have the desire to preserve their own lives, claiming that the fear of death provides people with similar dispositions and factors of motivation as one another (Hobbes 44). Hobbes claims that the fear of death is what inclines people to accept the ruling of the sovereign so that they will be able to attain each power that they desire, preserve their lives, and live peacefully.

However, the fear of death that Hobbes describes as being universal does not extrapolate to terrorists, specifically those that utilize suicide tactics, which creates a problem in Hobbes’ social contract. This is because suicide terrorism undermines what Hobbes uses as an initial starting point for leaving the state of nature, and “without this universality, his laws quickly crumble from being universal prescriptions to contingent prudential recommendations” (Williams 96). After all, how can this be a motivating factor for suicide terrorists when they do not fear bodily death? Furthermore, terrorists have the fear of a different kind of death that they deem as much more valuable than their individual nature: “the death of their message, movement, and the loss of their cause” (Williams 101). Therefore, since the death of their own nature is often used as a means to achieve the strengthening of a message, “the social contract based on mutual benefits collapses; thus, no deterrence [to behave otherwise] is really possible, since deterrence is based on the avoidance of death” (Sznaider 18). Sociologist, Natan Sznaider, goes so far as to say that:

The waiving of life, even the desire to die, breaks [the fundamental rule of the social contract]. It destroys all ethical measures and even more, the fear and reverence to the moral and immortal god Hobbes talked about. It is the fulfillment of nihilism, for which a state based on the social contract has no answer. Civilized people fear death. Suicide terrorists do not. (Sznaider 19)

Although many agree on the definition of terrorism as being an attack on innocents—civilians or noncombatants—many times, terrorist organizations “believe that their victims are not in the relevant sense innocent…think[ing] of themselves as administering forms of deserved punishment or retribution” (Scheffler 6). For example, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an influential Tamil group at conflict with the Sri Lankan government (State 100). They use illicit methods of terror to attract publicity to their objective to establish an independent Tamil state (State 100). Terrorist organizations, such as the LTTE,  have a message that can be conveyed only through acts of terror while in the state of nature. In fact, it is often the case that for groups such as the LTTE, submitting to a sovereign—either on a domestic or international scale—would lead to the death of the message that they stand for. Since they are motivated by the preservation of their message, rather than of their individual nature, entering into a social contract would go against the Hobbesian laws of nature for groups like the LTTE. After all, does it not violate the Hobbesian laws of nature to cause destruction to the very thing that a person lives for? In conclusion, since the suicide terrorist does not fear the death of their own life, but rather, they have a fear for a different kind of death, the concept of an international sovereign is problematic for Hobbes, since the motivation of their actions do not incline them to enter into a social contract and obey a sovereign.

3. The Logical Inconsistency in Hobbes’ Moral Theory

Now that I have relayed a counterexample to Hobbes’ claims of how fear can be universally implemented by a sovereign, I will endeavor upon the second part of this essay. Primarily, I will discuss another reason that Hobbes’ viewpoint of the concept of an international sovereign is problematic in that it does not pose a logically consistent explanation as to how we may leave the state of nature on an international scale. In her book, The Sources of Normativity, Christine Korsgaard illustrates points made by Samuel Clarke as a critique of how Hobbes’ theory regarding the social contract is questionable. Samuel Clarke points out that this logical inconsistency lies in Hobbes’ attempt to derive an obligation to the sovereign’s legislated commands “from the social contract [and] from our agreement to obey the laws of a sovereign who will make social cooperation possible” (Korsgaard 28). He says:

To make these compacts obligatory [Hobbes] is forced…to recur to an antecedent law of nature: and this destroys all that he had before said. For the same law of nature which obliges men to fidelity, after having made a compact; will unavoidably, upon all the same accounts, be found to oblige them, before all compacts to contentment and mutual benevolence. (Korsgaard 28)

Clarke explains how Hobbes’ reasoning of the way that people are able to leave the state of nature appears to be rather circular. The obligation to obey the sovereign and the laws that it legislates forces Hobbes to assume that humans intrinsically desire to depart from the state of nature, submit to a sovereign, and create a kind of social order (Korsgaard 28). Because of this, Hobbes is faced with the problem of regress.

It is not logically consistent to use cooperative and civil behavior as a sufficient condition for entering into a state of civility and cooperation. If we behave civilly, then isn’t it the case that we have already left the state of nature? Further, why is is not possible for a person to be obligated by forces other than the sovereign? (Korsgaard 29). Since Hobbes is unable to qualify the sovereign’s derivation of normative authority, his own account of the obligatory force of the laws of nature appear to be prudential recommendations that have no moral force (Williams 104). It is almost as if he is engaging in “an attempt to persuade his readers to become rational calculators of earthy advantage…so that they [will] ‘behave themselves’ prudently, leave the state of nature, and obey the commands of the [sovereign]” (Williams 104).

Even if someone were to argue for a plausible method to coerce terrorist organizations to depart from the state of nature, Hobbes’ concept of a sovereign is problematic in itself. The issue that Hobbes faces is derived from his attempt to create normativity from a natural source of power. For Hobbes, the authority of the sovereign depends on its power that is apparently irresistible (Korsgaard 29). Korsgaard explains that this generates issues for Hobbes, because the authority of the sovereign is now rooted in its ability to impose sanctions; consequently, “although sanctions are not our motive for obedience, they are the source of the sovereign’s authority and so of our obligations” (Korsgaard 29). Therefore, people become obligated to commit right action, only because the sovereign has the ability to punish them if they do not (Korsgaard 29).

So, if people commit wrong action, then the sovereign has the ability to punish them, and because the sovereign is able to punish them, people are obligated to obey the commands of the sovereign. The problem in Hobbes’ reasoning of why we ought to obey the sovereign can be seen with the contrapositive of the first statement in the logical relationship that I have just illustrated: if people are not punished by the sovereign, then they did not commit any wrong action. For example, let us assume that a particular sovereign has implemented a piece of legislation that says that murder is a crime. So, in this case, if someone murders another person, and they are not caught, then it follows that the sovereign was not able to enforce a punishment against that person (Korsgaard 29). If the murderer had an obligation that was conceived from the sovereign’s ability to enforce punishment, then there was not an obligation that was present for the murderer (Korsgaard 29). In this case, when a person gets away with murder, they have not actually committed a crime at all (Korsgaard 29).

If the sovereign’s seemingly “irresistible power” is just “power unsuccessfully resisted, then authority is nothing more than the successful exercise of power, and things always turn out right” (Korsgaard 29). Thus, since Hobbes derives authority from a normative consideration, the social contract, he needs to provide either a further explanation about how the social contract is normatively authoritative, or where its authority stems from (Korsgaard 30). Consequently, as with Clarke’s example, either “authority comes from morality, in which case we have argued in a circle,” or as Korsgaard elicited, “it comes from something else, in which case the question rises again, and we are faced with an infinite regress” (Korsgaard 30). Thus, Hobbes faces several difficulties when attempting to solve the problem of international terrorism, as his instructions for leaving the state of nature commit the fallacy of circular in reasoning. Likewise, even if a terrorist organization does happen to depart from the state of nature, the authority of the international sovereign is sanction-based, in which case, authority is merely power that is exercised successfully.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, it appears as if the Hobbesian laws of nature are do not adequately resolve the problem of terrorism on a global scale. Not only do terrorists enforce a state of nature through the use of fear, but it does not appear as if, psychologically, terrorists experience the same kind of fear that they instill in their victims. Hobbes’ solution of establishing an international sovereign is problematic, because its suggestion of how to depart from the state of nature uses circular reasoning, is logically inconsistent, and thus, cannot be structured into a form of valid reasoning to support his claims. Also, the concept of a sovereign cannot derive its authority from the ability to impose sanctions. Therefore, neither Hobbes’ solution nor the Hobbesian laws of nature establish an enforceable proposition to decisively cease the international state of nature created by terrorism.

Works Cited

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. 1651. Early Modern Texts, http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/authors/hobbes

Kapitan, Tomis (2003). The Terrorism of ‘Terrorism’. In James Sterba (ed.), Terrorism and International Justice. Oxford University Press.

Korsgaard, Christine. The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge, 1996.

Scheffler, Samuel. “Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive?” Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 1, Mar. 2006, pp. 1–17. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=phl&AN=PHL2087071&site=ehost-live.

Sznaider, Natan. “Terrorism and the Social Contract.” Irish Journal of Sociology, vol. 15, no. 1, June 2006, pp. 7–23, doi:10.1177/079160350601500102.

Williams, David Lay. “Hobbes and Terrorism.” Critical Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Politics and Society, vol. 21, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 91–108. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=phl&AN=PHL2134883&site=ehost-live.

United States, Congress, Cronin, Audrey Kurth. “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” Foreign Terrorist Organizations, 108th-2nd ed., vol. RL32223, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2004.