Thomas Hobbes And John Locke

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are widely considered to be the most influential political philosophers of the classical liberal viewpoint, as they both believed that a government should exist, but that it should exist only for the purpose of preventing members of society from harming each other, not from harming themselves, therefore maximizing liberty in society. Although they agreed on the general purpose of government, which would today be considered to be a libertarian viewpoint, one critical issue on which they disagreed was on the nature of rights. In Hobbes’ view, people have no natural or inherent rights, and that in a state of nature, people would have no obligation to respect the rights of others. As a result, Hobbes argues that …show more content…

The key component of Hobbes’ theory of government is social contract theory: that people give up some of their freedom to a government that protects their safety; as a result, rights are granted by the government, as this social contract is the only protection that people have over their rights. Hobbes’ social contract theory stems from his view of the state of nature, or what would occur if no government existed. In Hobbes’ view, the state of nature is extremely chaotic, or as he writes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” This chaotic state occurs because people have no incentive not to harm each other, since “if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end endeavour to destroy or subdue one another.” In addition, Hobbes argues that there is no morality or rights in the state of nature, saying “The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice.” Since Hobbes believes that people have no inherent rights in a state of nature, and that no one has any incentive to respect the rights of others, he believes that a government is necessary in order to

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