Thomas Hobbes and John Locke on Natural Rights Essay

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke on Natural Rights Essay

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Hobbes and Locke on Natural Rights


According to the natural right theory, the state of nature is the original condition of human beings in regard to any common authority. In the state of nature, according to Thomas Hobbes, each individual has a right to everything, even the body/life of the other. The state of nature can lead to the state of moral chaos. Moral chaos produces physical chaos or war, thus the state of war, the war of all against all. The reason this is because no one has any connection to the other, everyone has the right to everything, just to satisfy his or her appetites. There is no rational rule to resolve conflict, in order to get around this you have to get an agreement, thus the need for a social contact. The social contract is how governments are legitimated, or given the political right to rule. The social contract is the establishment of a sovereigns right to rule over subjects, you have to give up your right to everything except the right to life, that's the only thing you retain when you make an agreement with other subjects. The sovereign is above the social contract; it's not a party to it, but an enforcer of the rules that it applies. The agreement is useless unless there is a sovereign to govern the will of an agreement. We decide what we give our rights to, and then the sovereign carries those rights out, without the interference of the people as a whole.
According to John Locke, the government is legitimated in a similar means. Except that in the state of nature not everyone has the right


to everything. For Locke you can't just go into the state of nature and just kill someone; unlike Hobbes, you have to preserve your neighbor unless it's your life at stake, then you must p...


... middle of paper ...


...ht to life and property. You can see these ideas in many societies today. These concepts of no one can take away your life or property, they were directly used in our government, Jefferson put them right smack in the middle of the bill of rights. And in my view that is one of the more important documents our government was founded on, but what do I know. As far as weak points, I still don't like this idea of implied consent. I just don't see how it is that anyone can actually consent without doing it physically. I understand the concept behind it; I just don't like it. I never agreed to anything, I like forced consent better, if you think about it. I never had any other choice, it's either use this form of government or be forced to live your life in back of a jail cell. But I guess Hobbes and Locke would say why disagree with the government if it working.

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