THOMAS HOBBES’ DOCTRINE OF NATURAL LAW, NATURAL RIGHTS AND THE STATE
Submission Date: 22/03/2013
Student ID: 201105385
In contradiction with the great philosophers Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes doctrine of natural rights is a scientific research based emphasis on the rise of negativity in the theory of the classical natural law. In his doctrine, Hobbes rejects natural law as a means of peace attainment in different political communities. This writing seeks to give a detailed outline of Hobbes’s doctrine of natural law, natural rights and the state. In description of these detailed writings, I shall also make an outline description of Hobbes method of inquiry to his study. In conclusion to this writing, Hobbes social contract shall be covered in detail to make a closing to this historical phenomenon. In his opening arguments in support of the new phenomenon of modern natural rights, Hobbes insisted that human beings are complex machines influenced by their environmental conditions and prevailing situations. He puts this argument forward as an attack to the classical view of natural law of Aristotle and Aquinas which rather sees man as “a rational and social animal who has a natural inclination to his proper end, happiness which can be attained by the virtues of mind and character”. Hobbes argues that man have always and will always be competitive and therefore will always strive to attain some form of leadership or political power in all possible ways available to them (Hobbes, 2004). He mentions that humans are selfish anti-social beings who are in pursuit to serve their selfish desires, particularly power. The second argument outlined by Thomas Hobbes in rejection to the classical natural law theory is that human beings are motivated by vanity in a classical natural law state. Thus meaning, in natural law state individuals has a sense of superiority based on their knowledge over others. He exemplifies this view by the olden ways of living where kings or monarchs ruled on the basis of higher power to gain majority obedience from the people. This according to Hobbes theory of natural rights was undermining of political authority (Kraynak, 1990). He therefore due to this reason opted for a rather fair system of the modern human/natural rights. According to Thomas Hobbes, the weakness in the classical natural law doctrine of Aristotle and Aquinas is that, unlike the modern natural rights doctrine, it is easily exploited. This was the primary cause of the English civil war in Behemoth in 1642-60. This according to Hobbes was a result of King Charles being overthrown by the parliamentarians who claimed to have had higher knowledge on natural law. Hobbes sums the lesson from the Behemoth war by making a statement that “if higher laws are not equated with intangible goods like virtue, wisdom and salvation then the ills of civilization can be avoided and mankind can enjoy enduring civil peace” (Hobbes, 2004). Thus Hobbes proposed his new doctrine of natural rights to building a better state. In his newly found doctrine of natural rights, Hobbes emphasizes that unlike the classical natural law doctrine, modern rights are not an illusion put forward by the classical theorists of natural law. “Natural law is the greatest good by virtues of the perfections of mind and character” (Hobbes, 2004). This notion put forward by the classical theorists of natural law is a dangerous and falsified statement according to Hobbes. He associated this with the then overthrowing of King Charles. He therefore defines modern natural rights doctrine as the only solution to civilization to avoid the dangers that result with natural law doctrine. In his closing arguments, Hobbes proposed a new definition of natural rights which gained vast acceptance worldwide. He emphasizes the natural equality of all mankind in his new definition of natural rights. Hobbes therefore defines natural...