What Justifies the State?

Topics: Political philosophy, Social contract, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 3 (851 words) Published: February 22, 2006
What Justifies the State?

The state, as the textbook refers to, "is the highest authority in a society, with a legal power to define the public interest and enforce its definition." The state is comprised of the governing institutions, politicians, and the legal system. They have authority over its citizens in executing legislature, applying taxes, and, if necessary, provide additional services for the state. The power of the state is justified by the people who allow the state to have the necessary power to govern its citizens. To my understanding, there should be a mutual compromise between the government and its obligations and its citizens to abide by the laws of the state. The social contract theory is the doctrine that says that "individuals should give up certain liberties and rights to the state, which in turn guarantees such rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The first social contract theory was discussed by Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Then in the middle ages, St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas debated the theory as well..

In the 18th century, the English social philosopher Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan, stats this theory on the English society," Hereby it is manifests that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such war, as is of every man, against every man, and the life of man is solitary, nasty, brutish, and short." Hobbes perceived humans being in permanent conflict with each other, so they have to accept the state authority and its power to rule them to the best of their interest. He also believed that those who didn't live within a state, have none of the protections and advantages that government provides. John Locke, another 18th century English philosopher, viewed humans much less violent than Hobbes, "as free and equal by nature, regardless of the existence of any government." Humans have established governments...

Bibliography: Introduction to Philosophy, Miner,Harold 2002 p.121
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