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HobbesCritique

HobbesCritique - How would Thomas Hobbes have reacted to...

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How would Thomas Hobbes have reacted to critics of the theory he presents in Leviathan ? A Hobbesian rebuttal to Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Law of Nature and Nations Steven Diaz Hobbes and 17 th Century British Political Thought Dr. Daniel J. Kapust 07 March 2011
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Introduction The publishing of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan caused a stir in the academic and political communities of the time. Instead of being deemed the sole academic text of the country, as Hobbes hoped, the writing incited intense critiques from important figures at all levels of society. Hobbes’ model presented in Leviathan is relatively short, concise and parsimonious. It thus often falls short of fully explaining the complexity of human relations and political structure. Samuel Pufendorf, a 17 th century political philosopher, studied Hobbes’ model vigorously and came to the conclusion that he was mistaken in some of his assumptions. Since Pufendorf clearly and eloquently engages Hobbes on some of Leviathan’s main themes, I will use his writing as a basis to fashion a possible response from Hobbes to the main critiques of his writing. He challenges Hobbes on his notion of rights, his notion of obligation, human nature and relations, his state of nature and the relationship between the sovereign and their subjects. I will state Pufendorf’s challenge to Hobbes’ on each one of these issues respectively, then explain how Hobbes would have responded. Hobbes would have used his parsimonious model of human nature and political structuring to respond to his critics who challenged his ideas about rights, obligation, human nature and the state of nature. On the Concept of Natural Rights Samuel Pufendorf claims that human beings cannot all have a right to everything which Hobbes’ would refute by pointing to his state of nature, stressing the significance of common language and giving examples of this proven correct in lawless environments of the present day. Pufendorf puts forth a similar notion of rights to those contained in Leviathan whereby every human may use their reason for the sake of preservation. However, he states that everyone
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cannot claim to have a right to everything since one person’s right to a thing stops another person’s right to it. The question is then asked, “how can we call that a right which another may oppose with an equal right?” (346). Hobbes would say that we have the right to preserve our own nature. In an environment of all against all, then, which is Hobbes basic assumption about the world without laws and political control, everyone has a right to everything in order to ensure their security. He might give an example of a happening in the state of nature to explain this. Say someone claims a right to a piece of land in this condition of war with the intention of security and the ability to defend themselves better. There is no structure in place to ensure this right and thus someone else has the same natural right to the land in order to increase their wellbeing. This right is thus shown by Hobbes to be natural and preceding the social contract. Rights in the sense
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