Locke and Hobbes state of nature

?Exam #1 1. Locks justification of private property can be summed by stating, the earth and all it possess is property to be used by people in common for their own benefit and existence. In Locke’s view, every individual must have private property rights In order to possess the property in common. To Locke, property also justifies and gives authority in terms of wages, land, and labor. Also in order to be justified, and individual must not possess more property then can be used for his benefit.

This comes about from his dislike of authoritarianism both on the individual, community, and religious levels.

Locke dictates that we have a natural right as humans to everything common i. e. : water, air, life liberty and property, (the earth and everything in it is considered property). Everything within the earth is considered commons until labor converts it to private property. But that being said Locke does give limits to private property. Privatization is limited by needs, we must leave enough, and as good for those who need it (though the accumulation of wealth to Locke is a natural right).

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In other words lock views waste as immoral and the limit of privatization.

Other immoral acts to Locke include degrading the commons, and depriving others of their natural right of commons. Today, we have overcome these limits by having a huge income inequality, polluting our world through industry, and by not making full use of property. We degrade our commons through dumping, and polluting our air through industry, and we pass bills to let corporations get away with it easier.

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That goes the same for the other two; currently we pass legislation that helps corporations exceed Locks natural limits to property.

2. To Hobbs, Human action can be explained in terms of causal relations of material objects, also known as the Mechanism theory. According to Hobbs, a human poses both voluntary and involuntary motions. Involuntary motions can be described as things we subconsciously do all the time without noticing like breathing and thinking without having any external effects. Voluntary motions on the other hand have cause and effect association (Mechanism), and can be broken down into two categories appetites, and aversions.

Appetites are morally good things that we want that are executed through the accumulation of power. Aversions are the opposite, morally bad things we avoid that is driven through fear which according to Hobbs, is a primary motivator for us. These two things together shape or basis of morality, in other words what is right and wrong, and how we treat one another in society. Hobbs materialistic explanation dictates we have two primary motivators in life power and fear. Power is the central reason we do things. Acquiring this power to Hobbs is the primary aspect or function in human nature and life.

This power leads to our individual ability to execute our appetites and aversions and gives class separation or a hierarchy to society as a whole. It can be broken down into two parts natural and acquired power. Natural is the power you are born with like strength or intellect and it cannot be altered, whereas acquired is things gained like wealth and friends. We do not stop seeking power as humans until we die. Fear is the other primary motivator to Hobbs; this fear can simply be broken down to the constant threat of death in Hobbes view of the human state of nature.

We constantly seek to avoid death, (the accumulation of power lowers ones fear of death. To Hobbes, the logical explanation to our human central desires is that without a sovereign and a social contract we as humans in our natural state will always be in conflict, and life will be brutish and short. 3. To Locke the “right to revolution can be summed up as our collective right or duty as a people to overthrow a sovereign who does not properly serve us or a community as a whole. Locke does not view the sovereign as a deity, but rather as just another man living amongst people.

He does not reside in a state, but rather amongst his subjects. The sovereign in Locke’s view serves the people and acts as a trustee that we must consent to through a social contract. In this contract we give all our rights except the natural ones given by god in exchange for protection of our life and private property. Because we give these rights the sovereign reserves the right to punish wrong doing, but this punishment must be held to the context of natural and civil law.

The state or sovereign may only be held supreme if it is held to both these laws, and we as a people must erect safeguards to ensure and protect natural law, or our god given rights. It is from these safeguards that if the sovereign does not live up to his end of the contract, and does not act in the communities’ best interest, we reserve a natural right to overthrow the sovereign, to protect against a self-acting corrupt government that isn’t in the interest of the subjects who signed the contract. Hobbs, on the other hand views the sovereign as a deity who only has to answer to god instead of the people because he possess more power.

Also, instead of retaining our natural rights, all are given up to the sovereign at the time of the contracts singing. Because of this, the sovereign becomes the law rather than being bound to it because it is his divine right given by god. Hobbs also views government as a leviathan or a scary evil monster that we need in order to not revert to our sate of nature where life is constantly at conflict, brutish, and short. Unlike Locke, Hobbs would never advise overthrowing the sovereign because of fear of instability and returning to the state of nature.

Hobbes does assert that one has a natural right to do so, but executing the overthrow brings the risk of being killed by the sovereign (which no rational man would do). Hobbs would not agree to locks right of revolution simply because of fear. 1). Hobbs and lock are two of the most influential philosophers in the realm of state of nature, and social contract theories. Though they come from different time periods, the two’s theories differ and relate in different ways. When talking about the human state of nature, Hobbes does not view man as a social animal, and that we cannot exist without a state.

He views the state of nature as constantly at violent conflict with one another over the accumulation of property and power, where we have endless rights until the signing of the social contract. Life in the state of nature for man under Hobbs is solitary brutish, and short. With this conflict in mind Hobbs states that no society or sovereign is worst of all because it leaves us in our violent state of nature. He also states that in the state of nature man does not know what is his or someone else’s, and property only exists through the will of the state.

Thus men are condemned to endless violent conflict over property and power. Morality to Hobbs is merely the command of people, a group or god, and law is just the momentary will of the sovereign. In Hobbes’s view, the sovereign dictates or is the arbitrator of definitions and are not socially constructed because that would carry no meaning (humans cannot know what is right). Locke on the other hand, views man as a social animal by nature. And in the state of nature men for the most part, kept promises and obligations, and though insecure, it was mostly peaceful and pleasant.

In my opinion the state of nature to Locke can best be depicted through Americas past frontier life, where though life was insecure, violent conflicts were often ended by forcible imposition of a just peace on wrong doers, and peace was upheld (for the most part). In Locke’s sate of nature, peace and property rights existed in most circumstances. These rights were maintained because it was socially acceptable to punish wrong doing against you because people know what is theirs and inst. Morality to Locke is driven by the basis of morality with appetites and aversions, and lies within society and the individual.

Law is used to safeguard property and rights instead of being at the whim of the sovereign. Also, to Locke individuals and society dictates definitions and meanings (which to Hobbs is impossible). Unlike Hobbs, Locke’s view of the state of nature leaves the argument that we may not need a sovereign to live, but to enforce law, have property rights, and engage trade one may be required. Locke’s view of the social contract dictates that we give up rights to one another (or a community), rather than to the sovereign. In other words you won’t take from your peers what you wouldn’t want taken form yourself.

Although we give up our rights, we retain our right to life and liberty and gain impartial protection of our property (state grants individual rights). In Locke’s view of the social contact, the state or sovereign acts as a trustee and serves the people. We receive retribution for property crimes in return for impartial justice backed by force. To Locke to role of the state in social contracts is to ensure justice to wrong doers through force. However, we as a people/community must grant the state/sovereign legitimacy.

This legitimacy can only supreme if it is bound by natural and civil law (according to Locke). Locke states, to protect our natural rights we must erect safeguards. It is these safeguards that allow us to abolish a sovereign if he does not serve the people/community, because the sovereign does not live in the state but amongst his subjects. When talking about Hobbes on the other hand, the individual gives up all rights to the sovereign in exchange for the right to live. No matter what the sovereign does, it does not constitute a breach of the social contract (a breach results in death).

In other words, there is no right to rebel, even though there is a natural right to do so, no one would out of fear of losing their life (under Locke it is a natural right to rebel). Unlike Lock, under Hobbs the sovereign can do no wrong because lawful and unlawful, good and bad are merely commands based of the sovereigns will. That being said unlike Locke where society creates the state, the state creates society in the image of the rulers will. These two differ immensely in the realm of social contract theory.

For the most part Locke agreed with some of Hobbes statements but the two’s theories on state of nature and the social contract differ immensely. First off, In the Hobbesian social contract subjects give up all rights in exchange for life to the sovereign whereas, in the Locke contract all rights are given up except the natural rights, to the community. Also, in the Hobbesian contract the sovereign can do no wrong and is right beneath god in the social hierarchy (considered a deity). Locke contrasts this by stating that the sovereignty serves the people as a common man.

Furthermore Hobbs states in his contract that society is created by the state in the image of the ruler whereas Locke argues that society creates, and legitimizes the state. The Hobbesian contract is also motivated by fear and Power, and Lock the opposite being motivated by property, and pursuit of wealth in peace. Lastly there is the topic of rebellion, the Locke contract allows for rebellion justified as a right, and the Hobbesian does not for fear of death. To this point I believe Locke provides the more compelling argument mostly because I would rather have the government serve me and have the right to rebel.

Additionally I believe we are social creatures by nature, seeking stability, rather then living in constant violent conflict with a short life, and immanent death looming. With consideration to rights and liberty, I would also like to retain some rights rather than have none, and be at the mercy of the sovereign. I do also think that society creates and legitimizes the state instead of the state creating society in the image of the ruler. No matter what the case however, they both provide very compelling arguments that have been used to shape modern political thought.

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Locke and Hobbes state of nature. (2016, Nov 17). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/locke-and-hobbes-state-of-nature-essay

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