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John Lockes State Of Nature Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1632 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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John Lockes state of nature is where humans exist without an established government or a social contract. It is a state of anarchy where there is completely no order or rules that guide human behavior. There are no laws to govern us and we are guided by our own instincts on what is right and wrong. According to Locke humans do not need a higher authority to control them and there can be a peaceful co-existence among people. There is no need for one person to take charge to bring about order. People behave according to the laws of nature which include natural freedom and moral equality. It is also known as our natural rights. John Locke believes that human beings are born with certain divine rights such as the right to live, the right to liberty and property. These natural rights alone have the sole capability of managing a harmonious society. Natural rights are rights of any species that exists outside the laws of the governing body. Fish that swim in the ocean do so by natural right not because legislation allows them to do so. The presence of a ruler to carry out our rights is uncalled for. He points out that a sovereign, limits human liberty and our natural rights. Human beings are perfectly capable of governing themselves as the respect for our natural rights. The state of nature is a state of equality with no one having more than another. People can act freely without being held by any set of rules or laws that would curtail their freedom and happiness. Locke states that God owns us and we are his property, therefore one has the right to protect themselves from harm. Humans have the right to defend themselves and punish anyone who violates the state of nature. The state of nature is governed by the law of nature. The law of nature states that we should refrain from causing harm to each other’s life, liberty, and property. Locke says that we should all treat each other as equal and doing harm to another is like doing harm to yourself. Rene Descartes is chasing me around the forest with a butcher knife and trying to kill me. Locke would argue that I did have the right to defend myself for my life was in danger. Descartes was harming my state of nature by trying to attack me. I have an obligation to punish him for he violated the laws of nature and caused me harm.

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The state of war is a state of enmity and destruction. Unlike the state of nature where we exists peacefully, the state of war is filled with malice and violence. We are constantly trying to watch our backs and protect ourselves. If any man is threatened by another he is in a state of war with that person. The innocent has the right to destroy the aggressor. Locke compares Descartes attacking me to a wild beast attacking me. He states that whether it be a man or lion, the consequences are similar because it is logical for me to attack anyone or anything that threatens my life. Rene Descartes is to be treated as a beast of prey. The state of war occurs when people exert unwelcome force on other people interfering with their own natural right and freedom without common authority. When one man uses force to deprive another of his life, health, possessions, or property, it becomes a state of war. The fundamental law of nature declares that man should preserve as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved and the safety of the innocent is preferred. One may destroy a man who makes war upon him. Self-defense is a corollary of the natural law and we have the right to our preservation. The law of self-preservation dictates that a person may kill another person in self-defense. So in a state of war, I do have the right to defend myself because I am preserving my life and keeping the enemy from harming it. It is lawful to kill him for he put himself in a state of war with me and he has disobeyed the state of nature. I am able to destroy that which threatens me with destruction. Since there is no common authority, I myself can only be a judge of my own conscience. It is up to me to decide the fate of Descartes. The war does not end until the aggressive party offers peace and reparations for the damage done, until then the innocent party has the authority to destroy the aggressor. In a civil society, our natural rights — life, liberty, and property is protected by the government. A civil society exists when there is chaos and an authority must be present to set things in orders. We place the authority to a legislative and executive power and must abide by the laws set forth by the government. Humans no longer have the ability to punish those who violates their state of nature. This job solely rests upon the authority. In a civil society, I would not be able to kill Descartes or decide his penalty. In a civil society, a state of war exerts in the manner except there are laws and the government determines the punishment of the aggressor.

Question 6: Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature is where there is no sovereign to put forth rules and regulations and human beings are living like wild beasts in the jungles. It is not a place where we can all peacefully co-exist amongst each other. It is filled with violence and we are constantly trying to escape death. Our equality is that we all want to kill each other. All men in the state of nature have a desire and will to hurt those who endangers them. Our nature of human beings is to be selfish and we will strive to protect and achieve are selfish ends. Everyone is naturally willing to fight one another and it is every man against every man. There is no civil society and we live in continual fear. According to Hobbes, life with constant battles and no strong central government would be solitary, poor, brutish, and short. There are no laws to maintain order and people have the freedom to do whatever it is their hearts desire. A state of nature is simply a state a war and it’s a competition for the survival of the fittest. Humans are fighting with one another in order to survive. We will do anything to stay alive, even if it means taking another person’s life. If I lived in a state of nature where food was scare, Descartes and I would kill each other in order to survive. Hobbes declares that a state of nature is horrible for there is no sense of what is right or wrong, except self-preservation. We are only looking after ourselves and every person has a state of natural right to do anything one thinks is essential for preserving one’s life. There is no jurisdiction and humans cannot be held accountable for their actions. People are at each other throats for survival, resources, and power. There is nothing to protect the weak against the strong. The strong will prey upon the weak and overpower them. Descartes being a strong man and I am a weak fragile girl, he can easily wipe me out. There is no sovereign to protect me from getting killed. In this state there is no sense of security and are lives are always in danger.

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Hobbes’ state of nature differs from Locke’s. Locke’s state of nature is peaceful and is separate from his state of war. Hobbe’s argues that a state of war exists within the state of nature. Humans fear a violent death and we are all aware that we can harm one another. We possess two desires, free of violent death and superiority over one another, we have the ability to hold it over one another. Without a governing authority, this will cause war to break out in a state of nature. Since we are all fearful of one another, we become aggressive towards each other with causes disputes and war to break out. Hobbes’ claims that there is no rule of property in the state of nature. No one can claim ownership over anything. All the laws come from the sovereign. We have the right to steal items from one another because it wasn’t theirs to begin with for they do not have ownership over it. He argues that we must have a government to settle this chaos and madness. If we live in a world with no authority it would be destructive and everyone would be killing each other. Hobbes tells me that I need someone to protect me from Descartes and prevent him from killing me. Once we have a sovereign the laws of property and life are established. Descartes would receive punishment for his crimes and I could get a restraining order against him. Unlike the state of nature, we would be safe and secure living under a legislation and executive. The laws of the sovereign helps regulate how we act with one another and it keeps civil war and war against each other from happening. These laws ensures us to live in a peaceful civil society where we are protected from the things that we fear. In the state of nature, people had more freedom and more rights. Under the rule of the sovereign people will give up their rights in exchange for a more peaceful life and environment. The sovereign is given authority to by the people and whatever they do is right. They are the voice of the entire ruling body. One must not question their actions for there will be consequences if they disobey. They will follow the rules for they fear receiving punishment. The establishment of a government makes it possible for the lives of man kind to be preserved and their rights to be protected. The purpose of a sovereign is to control natural law. It acts as a remedy to restore sanity and tame the rambunctious behavior of man. The law acts as some form of punishment to those who go against it and try to interfere with the rights of other citizens. A government ensures that we each have our individual rights, however we must not interfere with the rights and freedom of others. An oppressive government, is better than no government at all.


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