Thomas Hobbes State of Nature

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Thomas Hobbes’ “State of Nature” argument: Morality as a prerequisite for peaceful social co-existence

I have chosen to write about what Thomas Hobbes’ calls “The State of Nature” and how morality is needed in order to maintain peace among different societies. I will begin by briefly describing “The State of Nature” argument and illuminate some of the basic features within this theoretical situation. Then, through the use of excerpts from Hobbes’ book The Leviathan I will give specific facts regarding the conditions of human life as expressed within the state of nature. Next, I will demonstrate how these specific facts caused Hobbes’ to conclude that human life within the state of nature will be ruled by constant fear of other people, otherwise known as the “state of war”. I will then offer solutions for individuals to escape such an unpleasant situation because the majority of humans would find that life under constant fear of being harmed is unacceptable. Next, I will discuss James Rachels’ beliefs concerning the two fundamental conditions that would ultimately allow people to escape the state of nature by enabling individuals to work together. Lastly, I will explain why by putting these two fundamental conditions in place it amounts to an agreement, known as the social contract, between people to obey the basic rules of morality; I will also define the term social contract.

The state of nature argument suggests that people would naturally do whatever was necessary to obtain their wants and desires without considering the consequences of their actions; there are no innate moral values that control people’s actions nor is there pure good or evil. Hobbes’ writes that morality solves the issue of societies’ tendency of self-interest and is needed in order to promote a healthy, peaceful environment for all people (Rachels, 80). Hobbes’ believed that life in this manner would be short, hard, and nasty. He dreaded a life in which there would be “no...
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