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Rather than setting himself up as the tyrant over the Lydians, he might have committed injustices against various Lydian people, exploiting them while invisible, but never revealing that it was he who possessed the ring. Then the Lydians apparently would have been helpless victims, but not because the shepherd was acting like a god among humans. The Lydians would simply not have known who to punish when the shepherd exploited some of them while invisible.
Socrates, of all of you who claim to praise justice, from the original heroes of old whose words survive, to the men of the present day, not one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except by mentioning the reputations, honors and rewards that are their consequences. No one has ever adequately described what each itself does of its own power by its presence in the soul of the person who possesses it, even if it remains hidden from gods and humans.
No one, whether in poetry or in private conversations, has adequately argued that injustice is the worst thing a soul can have in it and that justice is the greatest good. Adeimantus even identifies in advance the good that Socrates will argue is both the greatest human good and the good intrinsic to justice, namely, a soul free from the corruption that injustice causes. To be sure, this is not the only good one might claim is intrinsic to justice. For example, Aquinas gives a justice-Platonist argument for the prudential rationality of respecting property rights when he argues that theft is a mortal sin Aquinas II.
For Aquinas, if one commits this kind of injustice then one is liable to be excluded from Heaven in the next life.
Adeimantus seems to think that Socrates has little prospect of mounting a successful justice-Platonist argument. Of course, Socrates accepts the challenge and gives exactly the sort of justice-Platonist argument Adeimantus expects.
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Instead, I will consider what, if any, moral Hobbes and Hume should draw from the fable of the Lydian shepherd. Neither Hobbes nor Hume explicitly acknowledges the challenge Adeimantus and Glaucon raise in Republic.
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Perhaps they think they have no good reason to consider this challenge. After all, Hobbes and Hume are concerned with analyzing social life in the actual world, not the world of mythology. True, no technology we know of can render someone invisible. And so on. Given how many ways one can render oneself in effect almost invisible, an argument for why one who possesses the invisibility ring is still better off if he honors the requirements of justice would be a valuable weapon in their arsenals.
Suppose the Foole acquires the ring that once belonged to the Lydian shepherd. Now he can turn invisible whenever he wishes, so I will rename him the Invisible Foole. And suppose further that after some experimentation the Invisible Foole learns that the ring has another power the shepherd did not notice. Using the ring, the Invisible Foole can appear to others as some person other than himself. With the ring, the Invisible Foole can enter into covenants appearing to be someone else and then turn invisible and abscond when it is his turn to perform.
He can commit injustices at will against others all the while concealing his identity perfectly. After he completes his direct reply to the Foole, Hobbes states that the only way one can gain the felicity of Heaven is to obey the law of nature that requires one to keep covenants Leviathan Indeed, the Invisible Foole appears to have no use for any talk of goods allegedly intrinsic to justice.
Before he had the ring, the Foole seemed interested in only external goods such as money and labor he would willingly seek by being just if he had to, but would seek by other means that would spare him the costs of being just if he could. If we suppose that the Invisible Foole cares for only these sorts of external goods, then of course no justice-Platonist argument will make any impression upon him. Since many real people possess powers that approximate those of the Invisible Foole, Hobbes and Hume face a serious new challenge to their justice-conventionalist reconciliation of just conduct with rational prudence.
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I will call this interpretation the folk-theorem interpretation. Robert Sugden , pp. H : Perform P in a covenant with innocent counterpart parties of the covenant, and do not perform D with guilty counterparts. In the Fig. If the two parties are to enter into a single covenant only, then neither will perform because D is the strictly dominant strategy for each. John Nash first discovered this in , and his proof of this result established the first folk theorem in game theory Flood Vanderschraaf and Skyrms , pp. Did Hobbes refute the Foole, as Hobbes seems to have thought?
But these are rather big ifs! The Foole might challenge the claim that the Humean strategy characterizes an equilibrium of the repeated game. Hobbes will have to hedge his reply and assert that the Foole should expect to live in a stable community whose members expect to interact with each other for a long time, so that their discount factors will be sufficiently high. Kavka and Skyrms argue that if one modifies in a seemingly innocuous way the assumption in the folk-theorem interpretation that interactions continue for an indefinitely long time horizon, then it is never rational to perform.
If the community members are rational, know the structure of the indefinitely repeated game, but lack common knowledge of an upper bound to the number of covenant games they might play, then they will be unable to anchor the just described backwards induction argument.
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Consequently they might follow some equilibrium better for all than the all-follow- A equilibrium. But, perhaps paradoxically, if the community members have common knowledge of the game, their rationality and an upper bound to the number of interactions, then the Foole can conclude that the only possible outcome is the all-follow- A equilibrium Skyrms , pp. As just noted, the backwards induction argument of the previous paragraph relies upon an ideal common knowledge assumption that might not obtain in actual communities.
Yet even if we return to the original assumption that from the perspective of the community members, their interactions are played out over an indefinitely long time horizon, and even if the Humean strategy defines an equilibrium of the repeated interaction, the Foole can mount still another objection. Skyrms recognizes the gist of this objection. Skyrms notes that the folk-theorem argument he attributes to Hobbes shows only that consistently refraining from offensive violations of covenants can be consistent with rational prudence. But Hobbes is evidently trying to show the Foole that refraining from offensive violations must be consistent with rational prudence.
The folk-theorem argument does not vindicate this stronger claim, because the indefinitely repeated game has equilibria other than the equilibrium of the Humean strategy, and at some of these equilibria the parties do not always perform with innocent counterparts. For example, if all follow A , then they are at one of these uncooperative equilibria Skyrms , p. The Foole can develop this objection as follows: If parties can follow a history dependent strategy like H , then why should they not be able to follow other history dependent strategies that Hobbes, and Hume after him, never consider?
Which, if any, of all these equilibria should the Foole expect the members of his community to follow? In his reply to the Foole, Hobbes assumes that the Foole interacts with the members of a community who all follow H. Suppose the Foole enters into a covenant with another party, and this other party performs first.