Locke And Hobbes On The Social Contract

2261 Words Oct 25th, 2016 10 Pages
Locke and Hobbes on the Social Contract: Small Contrasts, Noteworthy Parallels John Locke and Thomas Hobbes are often viewed as opposites, great philosophers who disagreed vehemently on the nature and power of government, as well as the state of nature from which government sprung. Hobbes’ Leviathan makes the case for absolute monarchy, while Locke’s Second Treatise of Government argues for a more limited, more representative society. However, though they differ on certain key points, the governments envisioned by both philosophers are far more alike than they initially appear. Though Hobbes and Locke disagree as to the duration of the social contract, they largely agree in both the powers it grants to a sovereign and the state of nature that compels its creation. Where Locke and Hobbes most obviously split is the issue of whether a social contract can be constructed to bind future generations. Hobbes believes in a self-perpetuating sovereign, one where “the disposing of the Successor, is alwaies left to the Judgment and Will of the present Possessor” (Hobbes 249). This, notably, is one rare area where Hobbes admits that democracies may have an advantage over his preferred monarchical system, as in a democracy “questions of the right of Succession, have in that forme of Government no place at all” (248). Hobbes still prefers monarchy for a variety of reasons, and so settles on the solution of providing several suggestions to ensure a peaceful succession, even in the…
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