POLS4190 Notes

POLS4190 Notes - Does the United States Constitution...

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Does the United States Constitution present an inefficient form of government? A critique of the United States Constitution from the perspective of Thomas Hobbes Steven Diaz Hobbes and 17 th Century British Political Thought Dr. Daniel J. Kapust 31 January 2011
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Democracy and some separation of powers in government are generally considered necessary elements for efficient modern governance. The federal republic, then, has become a preferred form of government. There are many who disagree with these assumptions. Few, however, believe that there should be a return to monarchism, or the practice of sovereign authority held by one individual. The political philosopher Thomas Hobbes would argue that this is indeed the best way to structure society. In the political treatise, Leviathan, published in 1651 Hobbes comes to the conclusion that certain elements of human nature require that all power in society should reside with one individual. Any other form of government, especially those with large amounts of decentralised power, leads eventually to conflict and the destruction of the contract of peace that holds society together. The focus of this study will be the social contract for governance that is the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. I will use the logic of Thomas Hobbes to examine the form of government presented and determine its effectiveness. While there is some strength to the federal republic, this form of government is proven to be inefficient when compared to monarchism because of the nature of man outlined in Leviathan. It is important to provide a brief account of Thomas Hobbes perspective on human nature that will be the foundation of this argument. In part I of Leviathan, Hobbes examines the human being starting with the essential characteristic of sense. Through sense the human being comes into contact with matter. Life is motion, and this constant contact stimulates various passions for the objects that the human being comes into contact with. Passion itself is universal, but different sense experiences cause people to have passions for different objects. The desire for power, in all its forms, can encompass most of the passions in human beings. There are, however, aversions which are passions away from something. Most important of these is the fear of violent death,
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which can be found in all human beings. From this understanding of human experience, we can conclude that conflict may occur as passions collide. Moreover, reason is understood by Hobbes as the practice of conceiving the consequences of all parts, given agreed upon definitions used for signification. So here we see the human being as unable to grasp infallible truth. In a state of nature, then, a human being would have individual passions and desire for power as well as being unable to communicate with their peers due to no agreed upon definitions for signification. A constant state of war is the result. Fear of death, however, causes people to desire the peace
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POLS4190 Notes - Does the United States Constitution...

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