A short analysis of hobbes social contract theory

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A short analysis of hobbes social contract theory

So far 3 volumes are available: Readers new to Hobbes should begin with Leviathan, being sure to read Parts Three and Four, as well as the more familiar and often excerpted Parts One and Two.

Hobbes's Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The Philosophical Project Hobbes sought to discover rational principles for the construction of a civil polity that would not be subject to destruction from within.

Continued stability will require that they also refrain from the sorts of actions that might undermine such a regime. For example, subjects should not dispute the sovereign power and under no circumstances should they rebel.

In general, Hobbes aimed to demonstrate the reciprocal relationship between political obedience and peace. The State of Nature To establish these conclusions, Hobbes invites us to consider what life would be like in a state of nature, that is, a condition without government.

Perhaps we would imagine that people might fare best in such a state, where each decides for herself how to act, and is judge, jury and executioner in her own case whenever disputes arise—and that at any rate, this state is the appropriate baseline against which to judge the justifiability of political arrangements.

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He assumes that people are sufficiently similar in their mental and physical attributes that no one is invulnerable nor can expect to be able to dominate the others. While people have local affections, their benevolence is limited, and they have a tendency to partiality.

Concerned that others should agree with their own high opinions of themselves, people are sensitive to slights. They are curious about the causes of events, and anxious about their futures; according to Hobbes, these characteristics incline people to adopt religious beliefs, although the content of those beliefs will differ depending upon the sort of religious education one has happened to receive.

Hobbes further assumes as a principle of practical rationality, that people should adopt what they see to be the necessary means to their most important ends.

The State of Nature Is a State of War Taken together, these plausible descriptive and normative assumptions yield a state of nature potentially fraught with divisive struggle.

The right of each to all things invites serious conflict, especially if there is competition for resources, as there will surely be over at least scarce goods such as the most desirable lands, spouses, etc.

From the SparkNotes Blog The concept of social contract theory is that in the beginning man lived in the state of nature.
Social Science and the Poor Law: The Theories that Smith, Bentham, Malthus and Owen made Law One of those men is John Locke, who presents a very different account of how it is civil society is formed. Although both men have very different accounts on the social contract notion, there are some similarities between the two.

People will quite naturally fear that others may citing the right of nature invade them, and may rationally plan to strike first as an anticipatory defense. Conflict will be further fueled by disagreement in religious views, in moral judgments, and over matters as mundane as what goods one actually needs, and what respect one properly merits.

Further Questions About the State of Nature In response to the natural question whether humanity ever was generally in any such state of nature, Hobbes gives three examples of putative states of nature.

First, he notes that all sovereigns are in this state with respect to one another.

A short analysis of hobbes social contract theory

Third and most significantly, Hobbes asserts that the state of nature will be easily recognized by those whose formerly peaceful states have collapsed into civil war. The bonds of affection, sexual affinity, and friendship—as well as of clan membership and shared religious belief—may further decrease the accuracy of any purely individualistic model of the state of nature.


Another important open question is that of what, exactly, it is about human beings that makes it the case supposing Hobbes is right that our communal life is prone to disaster when we are left to interact according only to our own individual judgments.

Perhaps, while people do wish to act for their own best long-term interest, they are shortsighted, and so indulge their current interests without properly considering the effects of their current behavior on their long-term interest.

This would be a type of failure of rationality. Such an account would understand irrational human passions to be the source of conflict.

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Game theorists have been particularly active in these debates, experimenting with different models for the state of nature and the conflict it engenders.Thomas Hobbes was the first person to come up with the idea of a social contract in his text, Leviathan.

As with any concept in history, other political philosophers have used Hobbes’ theory as . Hobbes' thesis that the natural state of man is chaos and war is the primary justification he provides for an all encompassing authority to be placed unalterably in the hands of the Sovereign, or Leviathan.

Hobbes theory of Social Contract supports absolute sovereign without giving any value to individuals, while Locke and Rousseau supports individual than the state or the government.

(¶1) Social science alters peoples lives.

A short analysis of hobbes social contract theory

Politicians argue about the ideas that social scientists make, and legislation and policies are shaped by those ideas. Hobbes defines contract as "the mutual transferring of right." In the state of nature, everyone has the right to everything - there are no limits to the right of natural liberty.

The social contract is the agreement by which individuals mutually transfer their natural right.

Social Contract Theory by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau | Manzoor Elahi - initiativeblog.com

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SparkNotes: Leviathan: Summary