The Influence of Locke and Hobbes on Government Essay

The Influence of Locke and Hobbes on Government Essay

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have authored two works that have had a significant impact on political philosophy. In the “Leviathan” by Hobbes and “Two Treatises of Government” by Locke, the primary focus was to analyze human nature to determine the most suitable type of government for humankind. They will have confounding results. Hobbes concluded that an unlimited sovereign is the only option, and would offer the most for the people, while for Locke such an idea was without merit. He believed that the government should be limited, ruling under the law, with divided powers, and with continued support from its citizens. With this paper I will argue that Locke had a more realistic approach to identifying the human characteristics that organize people into societies, and is effective in persuading us that a limited government is the best government.
Thomas Hobbes believes that the optimal form of authority is one that has absolute power over its people, consisting of just one person who will retain the exclusive ability to oversee and decide on all of society’s issues. This Sovereign will be constituted by a social contract with the people. With that, the Sovereign will hold all of the citizens’ rights, and will be permitted to act in whichever way he or she deems necessary. The philosopher comes to this conclusion with deductive reasoning, utilizing a scientific method with straightforward arguments to prove his point.
The foremost aspects to consider from the Leviathan are Hobbes’s views on human nature, what the state of nature consists of, and what role morality plays. Hobbes assumes, taking the position of a scientist, that humans are “bodies in motion.” In other words, simple mechanical existences motivated solely to gain sati...


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...y will consent to this, and bring in a sovereign that will also operate under the law. Also, that sovereign will have to operate with checks and balances, under a government with divided powers. The difference with Hobbes is that if any powerful invader that takes over the land that you reside with the intent to be the sovereign is not allowed. As mentioned, such an action permits the people to declare war with this presumed authority. That also extends to the situation in which those citizens were unsatisfied with the government that they had initially consented to.



Works Cited

Feinberg, Joel, and R. Shafer-Landau. Reason and Responsibility. 10. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1999. 493-494

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 84. Print.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge: University Press, Cambridge, 1960. 271. Print.

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