Hobbes on Moral Duties

Topics: Social contract, State of nature, Political philosophy Pages: 2 (775 words) Published: August 3, 2006
Some might claim that a social contract transforms our moral psychology so that we come to act from a sense of duty to others and not just selfishly. In this essay, I will express why Hobbes' theory that people always act from self-interest would not change people's moral psychology. Hobbes argues that being involved in a social contract does not transform our moral psychology, so that we act from a sense of duty, but rather from selfishness. Hobbes begins with mental and physiological parts on nature. The mental theory is that all people have desires, and that the goal of all people is to have power in order to get what they desire (ch.6, pg.5). Hobbes infers from his state of nature that humans are unavoidably self-interested (ch.14, pg.13). Everything people do is motivated by the desire to better themselves, and satisfy as many desires as possible. The physiological theory is that all men are created and remain equal in intelligence and strength (ch.13, pg.11). This equality means that every man is a threat to every other man in that there is no one man that cannot be killed or outsmarted. Hobbes comes to the conclusion that by nature, every man will be in a state of war and be wary of with every other man (ch.13, pg.12). Hence, society must form a social contract, by which men surrendered their natural liberties in order to enjoy the order and safety of the state, since war is in no ones' interest. In the organized state, it removes the state of war where people were in continual competition for goods and powers and trying to keep them. However, having a social contract does not remove Hobbes' doctrines about human nature and motivation, which by nature, people act always and only from self interest and motivated by desires and aversion. Thus, Hobbes believes that being in the social contract will not change their moral psychology to act from a sense of duty, since it is used to only bring peace, while people still act from self interests and...
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