Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill

Topics: Political philosophy, Social contract, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 2 (566 words) Published: April 20, 2012
In any country, there are political leaders who run their nations with the help of representatives of society. “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better” (“Quotes on LEADERSHIP”). This quote by Harry Truman is similar to Thomas Hobbes’ beliefs. Hobbes believed that if we want to live in a society peacefully and harmoniously we need to surrender some of our rights and have a single leader. However, his theory was contrary to John Stuart Mill’s beliefs, that each and every single person of society should be their own leader.

In regards to Hobbes, he believed in the natural right of self-preservation. He believed that human beings are greedy and have unlimited desires; they overuse their individual judgments and act on instinct, rather than reasoned responses, which is why there is great insecurity and instability in the state of nature. Hobbes also came up with the social contract theory, which states that we give the power to one individual and in doing this, we lose some of our own rights for the good of society. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the social contract depends on our ability as a society to obtain a satisfactory balance between what we want and what we are prepared to give up for it (“The Human Project” 148). Hobbes argued for an autocracy because it would be a strong-central government and would have power over all issues. However, in order for the country to be politically and socially stable, we would have to give up not only some of our desires but most of our rights as well.

Mill, on the other hand, was concerned with human happiness and liberty, and wanted to limit state authority. He believed that happiness is secured when we as individuals have sovereignty. Mill believed that a liberal government would allow one the freedom of expression and freedom of thought, on...
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