The 's Claim That Freedom Within Nothing More Than The Absence Of Physical Or Legal Constraints

1730 Words Mar 15th, 2016 7 Pages
Critically assess Hobbes 's claim that freedom consists in nothing more than the absence of physical or legal constraints.

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes attempts to set up the stage for the understanding of the nature of freedom. The account holds much significance, because, what people understand freedom to be matters a great deal to their past and present life. According to Hobbes, freedom implies “the absence of opposition (by opposition I mean external impediments of motion) …” (Hobbes, 2005, P157). However, Hobbes understood this to have had political implications and he talks of liberty (freedom from legal constraints) in contrast with obligations that act as constraints. He suggests that legal constraints do not make it physically impossible to do something, thus, he denies that there is anything more to freedom within a state than this absence of legal restrictions. Having argued this, he emphasizes the duty to obey the laws issued by the sovereign. However, Hobbes’s account has rightly been challenged in a number of ways. Suitably, in this paper, I will confront and critically assess the argument to show how it is ineffective in its attempt to provide an account for the nature of freedom.

For Hobbes, freedom consists in the absence of external impediments and the absence of external impediments to motion. Hobbes believes that if my movement towards what I want is unimpeded, then I am free. Yet, if my movement is prevented in some way, then I am not able to act…
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