Locke and Hobbes Purpose of Government

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were political philosophers of the seventeenth century who each attempted to decipher the best form of government. Though they were both naturalists, Locke and Hobbes shared very different views on the natural laws that moved humans and this led to radically different beliefs on what they thought to be the ideal form of government. The first conceptual difference between Hobbes and Locke is the necessity of a central authority for humans to be able to live together in a peaceful and stable environment. For both philosophers, when humans exist without any acting authority it is known as a state of nature. According to Hobbes a state of nature was a condition in which humans are constantly fearful for their safety and experience only fleeting moments of pleasure. This means that it is almost impossible to have any sort of meaningful existence without the presence of a universal authority, or as Hobbes calls it a Leviathan. In a Hobbesian state of nature, humans are all provided with four things: scarcity, equality, reason and a universal aversion to death. The scarcity of the world leads to a life or death competition for a limited amount of resources. This competition for basic needs, along with the ability to reason, leads to the understanding that the acquisition of resources for oneself, comes at the expense of another human. According to Hobbes, these rationalizations are always present in a state of nature and this leads to the idea that humans are naturally non-social animals. Hobbes believes that without a central power, humans have no chance of living together in peace. An important issue that arises both in both Locke and Hobbes is conditions in which a person can legitimately exit civil society. Hobbes’ view on the nature of civil society allows him to conclude that societies are held together by reason and not inclination or affection. Hobbes goes on to explain that once a civil society is in place, rationality will make...
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