The State Of Nature By Thomas Hobbes

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“During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.”1 Here Thomas Hobbes portrays the state of nature; in which life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.2 He then proposes a social contract where people of the state enter into a commonwealth governed by an absolute power. Through this social contract, the people give up their right to “everything” to the sovereign in exchange for security, thereby, giving the sovereign absolute authority over the entire commonwealth. However, Hobbes’s theory presents an exception to this “unlimited power.” He states that Leviathan, the sovereign, does no wrong unless he violates a subject’s right to self-preservation.3 In other words, a subject of the sovereign is not obligated to obey that sovereign if that sovereign threatens the life or person of the subject. But isn’t this retained right of self-defense incompatible with the absolute sovereignty that Hobbes claims for the commonwealth? Susanne Sreedhar argues that with the help of varying interpretations of Hobbes’s theory, in addition to the Razian model, she can find a solution to this puzzle. By treating the sovereign’s commands as “exclusionary reasons,”4 Sreedhar maintains that instances of disobedience can be justified in cases where subjects have nonexcludable first-order reasons for an action.5 However, her Razian model is in some measure too
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