Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both have different opinions of what makes political power legitimate and how do you keep it in check. They also had diverse opinions of what man's rights were after they created a government and what the purpose of that government is. Follow me as we compare and contrast Hobbesian and Lockesian theory.
In order to compare and contrast Locke and Hobbes we must first understand them. Locke believed that man is a societal creature by nature. In the state of nature men mostly kept their promises and obligations, it was mostly peaceful, good, and pleasant. Humans know what is right and wrong. They are capable of telling the difference between what is theirs and what belongs to someone else. Regrettably they do not always act in accordance with this knowledge. The gap between our ideas and words about the world, which establishes good versus evil, and we live together in peace by refraining from messing with and taking other peoples property and persons.
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If a ruler seeks absolute power, we have the right and the duty to kill such rulers and their servants. Civil society precedes the state, both morally and historically. Society creates order and grants the state legitimacy. The only role of the state is to ensure that justice done. Authorization is meaningless, except when authorization gives us reason to believe it is just, at which point it is the right of man to withdrawal and place himself back in the state of nature.
Hobbes believes however that Man is not a social animal by nature rather only socializes after the creation of the state. A bad society is better then no society at all in the eyes of Hobbes. When there is no society, a person lives in constant fear of a violent death; and the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. When you surrender your rights to create a government you have no right to rebel. The ruler or government can do no wrong, because lawful and unlawful, is decided by them.
Locke addresses Hobbes' view of the state of nature incorrect and suggests that instead Hobbes' state of nature is the state of war. Both Locke and Hobbes believe in the theory of what is known as the social contract, however their perspectives on the social contract are very different as well as that in order for government to be legitimate it has to be authorized however, the way they see authorization obtained is different.
Locke believes that authorization is granted only when those who are ruled feel the system is just and appropriate, when it becomes unfair they have the right to revolt. Hobbes however believes that you concede at the creation of government your rights to be safe.
Hobbes only loop whole for escaping the government is if you're born into it and choose to denounce it. If you do how ever, you will most likely be killed because you have replaced yourself back into the state of nature. In the state of nature Hobbes suggest that man works based on his own interests and would go to any ends to achieve self-preservation. Men in the state of nature are competing for food, shelter, water, and all the resources available. Whereas Locke suggest that man is cooperative in the state of nature but not always do men play fair therefore to protect all men and their belongings you create government.
Locke's government is very limited and specific. In Hobbes eyes it is not. Hobbes created what is known as the Leviathan, a system of people or a person who is given power to protect its citizens. Hobbes claimed man is not naturally good rather selfish. For Hobbes the state of nature is the “war of every man against every man" For Hobbes the individual must be obediet even to an arbitrary government in order to keep the greater evil of an endless state of war from happening. Hobbes' government has the power to do whatever it wants, whereas Locke's does not.
According to Hobbes morality, liberty, justice, and property have no meaning without society. These terms are generated and imposed by the Leviathan, who through laws and institutions uses these to keep war and social disorder at bay. For Locke this is not the case. Locke believes that life, liberty, justice, property, and so forth are all found within nature, however are better upheld within the social contract for the most part. Locke challenges Hobbes' beliefs of commonwealth only by surrendering our rights to the great Leviathan by saying, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” What Locke means by this is that in the state of nature it's an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The punishment is fitting for the crime even in the state of nature but rather the Leviathan or government is an overseer to make sure everything is fair.
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John Locke says that men were born free and are peace-loving beings. Thomas Hobbes on the other hand believed that men were selfish, often at war with each other to stay alive. They fight each other for the right to exist, the thought that only one of us can live.
The most important thing that Hobbes and Locke seem to agree on that life is much better for the most part under a ruling government. The one thing however that Locke has going for him is that his ideas of the state of nature and government have been used to create a great nation. Hobbes' have not. They may have been used in the past to maintain monarchial states, however all of these for the most part have fallen.
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both have different opinions of what makes political power legitimate and how do you keep it in check. To day we have compared and contrasted Hobbesian and Lockesian theory of political theory and natural law theory. We've learned that Hobbesian and Lockesian theory are very different but Lockesian theory is the most standard applied theory.