Compare and contrast Hobbes’s and Locke’s views of the state of nature and the fundamental purpose of political society. Whose view is the more plausible? Why?
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were both natural law theorists and social contracts theorists. While most natural law theorists have predominantly been of the opinion that humans are social animals by nature, Locke and Hobbes had a different perspective. Their points of view were remarkably different from those perpetuated by other natural law theorists. On the other hand, Locke’s perspective of human nature wasn’t quite as fine as Hobbe’s, although it was much simpler to understand based on its logical foundation. This essay compares and contrast Hobbes’ and Locke’s views of the state of nature and the fundamental purpose of political society. Firstly, the main features of natural law and different points of views of Hobbes and Locke are outlined, then compared and, finally, concluded to the fact that Locke’s ideas were more plausible.
Comparing and contrasting Hobbes’s and Locke’s views of the state of nature The state of nature is a significant philosophical concept that permits social contract theorists to present an understanding of the human nature as well as provide a justification for the establishment of government. Locke and Hobbes have proposed contending versions of the state of nature in “Two Treatises of Government and Leviathan correspondingly, while arriving at very different conclusions (Locke 2005; Hobbes 1994). A primary difference between Hobbes and Locke is on how they describe a man. An assessment of their idea of pre-societal man shows a large extent of the difference in their viewpoints. This essay analyses Hobbe’s and Locke’s views on the state of nature and compares it with Locke’s to shed light on the variations of the great 17th century social contract theorists. Locke’s perspective on state of nature is not as clearly distinct as Hobbes’ although it is simpler to understand. First, Locke applies the state of nature as the basis for his second and most important Treatise. The condition provides that man is in at liberty to order his actions and to dispose of his possession and persons as they deem necessary within the limits of nature without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man (Locke, 2005). From the above explanation, it can be explained that Locke complies with the “Natural Law” tradition that suggests that human have a natural moral sense that restricts them from behaving in certain ways. For instance, from the virtue of being children of God, humans know what is right or wrong, and by the extension of law, humans can resolve conflicts both rationally and consistently. In saying so, he meant that any human being has some sort of an inner voice to guide them through decision making processes, in other words, conscious that tells them what is wright and what is wrong. From the political point of view, Locke believed that when it comes to resolving issues, such as crime or theft, the party that was harmed should decide what sort of punishment the other party is suppose to get. He believed that a rational decision could be made of this, which just does not make sense. According to Locke, people have 3 types of rights: liberty, property and life. In my opinion the rights of liberty describes Locke’s opinion in regards to politics. He thought that a right to liberty means that human’s actions cannot be interfered unless the Natural Rights of others are violated. Locke thought that if we submit to an authority that this would cause more harm to people than good. In regards to politics, Locke believed that the government should be divided into Legislative, which would decide on laws, and Executives. However, all the laws created have to be in the agreement with the Natural Law and approved by majority. In contrast, Hobbe’s perspective disputes the idea that man has an inherent...
References: Armitage, D. (2004). “John Locke, Carolina, And The Two Treatises Of Government.” Political Theory, 32(5), pp602-627
Hobbes, T. (1994), Leviathan. 1651. Edwin Curley (Ed.) Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
Locke, J. (2005). Two Treatises of Government. Peter Laslett (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Theodore C Denise, Nicolas P. White, Damian Cox (2012). ‘Core 11-120 Ethics and Values 1st Edition’, Australia
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