Hobbes[1] - HOBBES'S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY Field of study...

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HOBBES'S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY Field of study: Political philosophy Thomas Hobbes was a seventeenth century British political philosopher. He is most famous for his account of the origins of society and government and his contribution to the debate as to what form that government should take. For Hobbes, government arises out of a social contract and the best form of government is an absolute sovereignty. Principle terms Absolute Sovereign: an individual who is a leader of a government or society and possesses all the power. Rational Self-interest: a phrase used to describe certain assumptions made about human nature. On this view humans almost always choose those options which they think will be to their long term benefit. Social Contract: the agreement that people enter into to form a society or government so that they may escape the state of nature. State of Nature: the condition that humans find themselves in prior to the formation of society and government. State of Peace: the condition to which humans aspire to escape the state of nature. It is characterized by cooperation State of War: the condition humans find themselves in in the state of nature. It is characterized by conflict. Overview Thomas Hobbes's political views are found, chiefly, in four of his works: Elements of Law (1640), De Cive (1642), Leviathan (1651), and De Homine (1658). In these works Hobbes explains how and why people banded together to form society, how and why people form a government, and he offers his position on what is the best form of government, namely, one with an absolute sovereign. What follows is a sketch of his account. Hobbes begins by asking us to imagine what life would be like if there were no government and no society. This pre-societal and pre- governmental condition he calls the state of nature. In this state of nature human beings will be completely free. They can do whatever they want to do. There is no right and wrong. There is no justice and injustice. This is so because there is no government saying what can and cannot be done. In addition to this freedom there are some basic equalities. For one, there is an equality of need. Humans all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. However, there will be a scarcity of the things needed. For another, there is the equality of power. There is not anyone so strong in this state that they cannot be done in by the weakest by guile or cunning. Finally, in the state of nature, because of Hobbes's assumptions about humans being essentially rational and self-interested, there is limited altruism, that is, acting for the interests of others. Everyone
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will be out for themselves with no concern for others except, maybe, for one's immediate family. Hobbes wants the reader to recognize that life in the state of
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Hobbes[1] - HOBBES'S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY Field of study...

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