What Is The Status Of Liberty Is It?

958 Words Oct 5th, 2014 4 Pages
Manleen Singh
October 6th, 2014
Question 2: What is the status of liberty in Hobbes’ argument? What kind of liberty is it?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, liberty is defined as, “the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely (Merriam-Webster).” Very similarly, In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes defines liberty as a man who can act freely. It is significant to note however that Hobbes’ definition of theory is not stagnant. Hobbes’ theory of liberty changes under a sovereign (state of society) and he rejects the existence of true liberty in a state of nature (no ruler). Thus, he only defines liberty in a state of society and defines it as the ability to act according to one’s will without being physically hindered from performing that act (Harrington, 2005). More specifically, this form of liberty that is explained by Hobbes is negative liberty, which Merriam Webster dictionary defines as freedom from intrusion by exogenous forces. Negative liberty principally deals with freedom from external limitation in the Leviathan (Harrington, 2005).

According to Hobbes, the status of liberty is contingent upon the existence of a ruler. Under a sovereign leader all subjects have absolute liberty. Hobbes says that subjects are completely free because the only chains restraining them are laws passed by the ruler and the social contract, which to both they prescribed powers and willingly gave up rights to for security.). However these stipulations…
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