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Xxiii to exact an oath where the breach of contract

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XXIII. To exact an Oath, where the breach of contract, if any be made, cannot but be known, and where the partycompacted, withall wants not power to punish, is to do somewhat more than is necessary unto self-defence, andshewes a mind desirous not so much to benefit it selfe, as to prejudice another. For an Oath, out of the very formof swearing, is taken in order to the provocation of Gods anger, that is to say, of him that is Omnipotent againstthose who therefore violate their Faith, because they think that by their own strength they can escape thepunishment of men; and of him that is Omniscient against those, who therefore usually break their trust, becausethey hope that no man shall see them.____________1. Right Reason. By Right Reason in the naturall state of men, I understand not, as many doe, an infallible faculty,but the act of reasoning, that is, the peculiar and true ratiocination of every man concerning those actions of hiswhich may either redound to the dammage, or benefit of his neighbours. I call it Peculiar, because although in aCivill Government the reason of the Supreme (i.e. the Civill Law) is to be received by each single subject for theright; yet being without this Civill Government, (in which state no man can know right reason from false, but bycomparing it with His owne) every mans owne reason is to be accounted not onely the rule of His owne actionswhich are done at His owne perill, but also for the measure of another mans reason, in such things as doeconcerne him. I call it True; that is, concluding from true principles rightly fram'd, because that the whole breachof the Lawes of Nature consists in the false reasoning, or rather folly of those men who see not those duties theyare necessarily to performe toward others in order to their owne conservation; but the Principles of Rightreasoning about such like duties are those which are explained in the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. articles of the firstChapter.2. Arise. For, except there appear some new cause of fear, either from somewhat done, or some other token of thewill not to performe from the other part, it cannot be judg'd to be a just fear; for the cause which was not sufficientto keep him from making Compact, must not suffice to authorize the breach of it, being made.De CiveChapter II. Of the Law of Nature concerning Contracts16
Chapter III. Of the other Lawes of Nature.I. Another of the Lawes of Nature is, to performe Contracts, or to keep trust; for it hath been shewed in theforegoing Chapter that the Law of Nature commands every man, as a thing necessary, to obtain Peace; toconveigh certain rights from each to other, and that this (as often as it shall happen to be done) is called aContract: But this is so farre forth onely conducible to peace, as we shall performe Our selves, what we contractwith others, shall be done, or omitted; and in vaine would Contracts be made, unlesse we stood to them. Becausetherefore, to stand to our Covenants, Or to keep faith, is a thing necessary for the obtaining of peace, it will proveby the second Article of the second Chapter to be a precept of the naturall Law.

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Term
Winter
Professor
Simone Davis
Tags
Thomas Hobbes, United nations charter, De Cive

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