Thomas Hobbes begins The Leviathan by establishing the idea that all men are created equal, although every man perceives himself as smarter than the next. As Hobbes says: "[men] will hardly believe there are many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance" (25). He then argues for psychological egoism, describing mankind as driven by self-interest and, ultimately, only self-interest. This leads mankind to a constant state of war where human beings will pit themselves against each other in competition because "if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies: (25). Hobbes explains that in a natural state of war, chaos ensues and man will do whatever is necessary to preserve their own lives and genetics, even if it means lying, stealing, murder, or rape. He also approves of such actions in a state of war, because, according to Hobbes, it is every human being's Right of Nature to seek self-preservation. The only thing that prevents people from going about doing these things are the Laws of Nature. A Law of Nature is a general rule discovered by mankind through reason that forbids a person from doing anything self-destructive and gives them the right to self-preservation. Hobbes' Laws of Natures are the means by which, in a state of chaos, order can be established, giving each person their best chance at survival.
Hobbes' First Law of Nature is "that every man, ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it" (28). In other words, human beings should seek a state of peace, because it will give them the best chance at survival. To establish peace...
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...peace where one can live without fear and conservatively maximize their utility. What's more, there is something to be said for being moral for the sake of being moral. Although Hobbes would disagree, I believe in the concept of maintaining moral standards, but not for the fear of punishment by a commonwealth or a higher being. There is a genuine happiness that will come to every man and woman that lived their life with morality when they look back upon their own lives and realize that they treated every other person they came across with kindness and humanity. There is an altruistic satisfaction that comes with this sort of lifestyle, knowing that you posed no threat to, and may have in fact aided the happiness and maximization of utility of others.
Sher, George. Moral Philosophy: Selected Readings. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomas Learning. 2001.
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