Constitution Study Guide 1
State of Nature
- Is Hobbes’ term for society without a government. Every person is free to do what they
would like. There can be no commerce, trade, science, arts, culture, public works, and security.
- Writing 1650’s during the English Civil War. Certain segments of society didn’t think
the monarch was a legitimate entity. It was an outgrowth of Renaissance and that the government could
no longer stand.
Hobbes was sympathetic to the monarch but wanted to insert a more rational
Hobbes would say that humans are neutral beings, capable of both good and evil.
says that without government we would size up what we could get away with. This is the state of nature.
There can be no commerce, trade, science, arts, culture, public works, etc.
Hobbes says that since we are
rational humans we can realize that there is a better way to do things. This is the social contract.
- Locke also wrote about the social contract. He used it to justify his preference of
government. Locke rooted his argument in God. His argument doesn’t exist without a belief in a higher
power. Locke says we’re inherently good.
In times of scarcity, there are more reasons for war. Locke
says the point of having government is to protect life, liberty, and property. We are divine beings created
by a higher power and we are given God-given rights. Fundamental natural law is being broken when our
rights are taken away. Rights are a manifestation of natural law. Government is created by the will of the
people and when it loses their consent it must be taken away. Government must be dissolved if it doesn’t
do the will of the people and protect their rights. Locke’s state of nature is not as hopeless as Hobbes.
Government exists to make sure our property rights are protected. If someone is trying to take your
property, they’re trying to take something God has given you and the government must protect your
- We exchange our freedom from security/order. That is the basis for government. It’s
The social contract is between citizens. The government is outside the contract.
- calls for two chamber bicameral legislature. One based off states populations. The upper
chamber would be based off of wealth. Single unified executive. Had a single unified executive. Virginia
is the largest and wealthiest state and had the most to benefit from the Virginia plan.
When Virginians arrived in Philadelphia on May 14, the day the convention was supposed to start;
only they and the Pennsylvania delegation were there. Although lacking a quorum, the Virginia
contingent used the eleven day delay to its advantage, crafting a serious of proposals that called for a
wholly new government structure, composed of a strong three branch national government empowered to
the lead the nation, Knows as the Virginia plan, these proposal were formally introduced to the delegates
May 20, just four days after the conventions began. The Virginia plan set he toned for the convention.