Contrast Between Lockes And Hobbes Positions Philosophy

Essay add: 22-01-2016, 13:41   /   Views: 139

Both John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were known as social contract theorist and natural law theorist. However, Locke's basis of legitimacy of government was based on the consent of the individuals; while Hobbes, on the other side, opposed that the basis of legitimacy of government is based on absolute power. This essay is going to raise a short explanation of the similarity of Locke's and Hobbes' position, follow by further explanations of the contradiction between their theories.

Firstly, both Locke and Hobbes believed that men are bound by their own social contract and agreed that it is necessary to have a society, known as 'Commonwealth' or 'Community', by taking the consent of the majority as a whole (Locke 351). From Locke (348) there is a state of equality where all humans are entitled to freedom, share the same advantages of nature and are independent and equal among one another. Locke (186) believed that the humans' state of nature can help them differentiate what is right or wrong, lawful or unlawful and if that something belongs to them. Unfortunately according to Locke, men do no always act in consistency to this knowledge of theirs. Thus, this leads to a natural state of war where men are savage and prone to violence due to their insecurity of their private properties; where it is normal to punish the person who had done something wrong to oneself (Locke 341). Hobbes (223) on the other hand, present that men are naturally bad, evil and cruel. Their state of nature showed that they do not know how to differentiate right from wrong nor capable in telling what belongs to them and what do not (Hobbes 226). There will be no helping one another and men will only rely on own strengths and arts to protect themselves from all other men (Hobbes 224). Natural state of war existed as competition, where there was no other law but the law of Honour; where every man wants to take control over others but refused to be taken control, believing that they are wiser, and were able to do better than all other men (Hobbes 224, 226). Having that, Hobbes (223) states that without a power to keep all men in awe, peace will not exist.

Besides, despite both Locke and Hobbes agreeing on the necessity of legitimising a government, both of them stand different positions. According to Locke (342), humans gave their consent by giving up their nature of rights to a man, or a group of man, creating a political society in seeking of protection for their rights, safety and properties. The man, or group of man, having the authority of the community, shall then act as the representative of his members to enact law with no bias, where the will of majority prevails, now forming a civil society. This means men in the commonwealth are no longer in the state of nature, as there is now a judge with authority to determine all the good and wrong doings, and to provide punishments for those who offended (Locke 343). On the contradiction, Hobbes (227) believed that a society can only exist under the state of power; and humans can only live in peace under absolute power of a common master. The only way to erect that absolute power is to create a social contract, so that men are willing to give up their social rights, strength and power upon one man; to acknowledge one man to act in a way which will bring common peace and safety, from every man's will to his will, and from every man's judgment, to his judgment (Hobbes 227). This social contract is more than just consent; it is the real unity of all men into one man, which creates the especially powerful and centralised government, the great Leviathan (Hobbes 227). They are therefore, subjected to a Monarch, to whom who shall make all the judgment for them; to provide them defence from their common enemies, and to protect against other men (Hobbes 229). The absolute power is necessary to keep all men in awe and to tie all men with their fear towards punishment, in order to ensure their agreements and peace are kept constant and lasting (Hobbes 226).

In conclusion, despite that both John Locke and Thomas Hobbes agreed on the need of social contract, that is where their resemblance ends as Locke's basis for the legitimacy of government clearly contradicted Hobbes' position. Locke's standing is that peace is the norm and should be the norm whilst Hobbes position presents that the morality practices of men are merely by the command of a person, group or even, God. In short, Locke's social contract was searching for a judge, but Hobbes' contract, seeks for a master that make all other men his subject. It is clear that Locke and Hobbes contradicted each other as a civil society, presented by Locke, is indeed inconsistent with absolute monarchy, which is Hobbes' standing.

(801 words)

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