Hobbes, Locke, And RousseauPresentation Transcript
Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau
The State of Nature (SON): a state of affairs in which man is at his most natural.
Everyone is happy to do whatever they wish.
Safety an issue
Personal possessions almost impossible
Kill or be killed
Wrote Leviathan in 1651, near the end of the English Civil War.
Seeing the violence and behavior of people gave him a dim view of human nature.
For Hobbes, the SON is a violent place, one of “war of every man against every man.”
In the SON, people have the inclination to fight and to take preemptive action against others.
Cooperation among people is nearly impossible because nobody will keep their agreements – it’s not in your interests to keep contracts
In fact, it is in your interests not to keep contracts
There is no police or law in the SON, so nobody is there to keep you honest.
In other words, every human MUST look out for #1 and not worry about others or make agreements with others.
In the SON, this idea that it is best to try and sell out anyone before they can sell you out is often expressed as theoretical game called the prisoner’s dilemma .
Let’s say there are two prisoners who were accomplices in a crime and they’ve made a pact to stay silent and not rat out the other person. They’re being interrogated separately by the police so neither knows what the other person is going to do.
If he rats out his friend and his friend stays silent, he’ll go free and his friend will do 10 years (and vice-versa).
If both stay silent, they’ll each do six months.
If both rat out the other one, they’ll each do two years.
So if his partner stays silent, his best option is to rat him out. If his partner betrays him, his best option is again to rat him out. Either way, his best (and rational ) move is to betray his partner.
In the same way, in the SON, nobody will ever keep their agreements because it’s in their best interests not to do so.
In the SON, everyone also has the right of nature, which means that you may do whatever you see fit to protect your interests, especially your life.
Everyone is also roughly equal. Sure there are bigger guys, but they have to sleep sometime. So everyone’s equal in the sense that anyone can kill anyone else.
For Hobbes, the only way to get out the SON is to have a sovereign , somebody who will enforce contracts and punish wrongdoers.
You must form a social contract with others around you in which everyone agrees to give up their rights of nature to someone.
This sovereign will exercise violence on your behalf should you be wronged. He will create laws and enforce contracts.
Only when there is a sovereign do you have a commonwealth and is there such things as justice and injustice.
For Locke, the SON isn’t the nasty place it is for Hobbes.
In the SON, all people have perfect freedom to do what they want, but are still bound by God-given laws of nature. Moreover, everyone is equal because God made them so.
Everyone, being equal with equal freedom, may also punish those who break the natural law.
A state of war exists when somebody is aggressive towards another’s freedom (which could be enslavement, taking property, or his life) and the victim defends himself (and he has a right to this self-defense).
So people form a social contract to create a sovereign and get out of the SON.
Although the SON is a rosy place with lots of freedom, people are willing to give it up in order to have some security from aggressors.
People form societies in order to protect their property: their life, liberty, and property.
People may rebel, though, if the sovereign is not keeping up his end of the social contract. If he’s not keeping up his end, the social contract is dissolved and people may rebel. Hobbes didn’t think people could rebel.
For Rousseau, the SON has unlimited freedom, but we must give up that freedom for the same reasons that Locke said.
However, here is where Rousseau differs with Locke.
“ Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”
He says that people create societies to gain freedom from lawlessness, and many times those societies we create don’t give us the freedom we originally asked for.
In other words, society has a tendency to repress some while benefiting others.
He says the social contract must be made among all the participants. The sovereign is the popular will of the collective whole of which all individuals are a part.
Legitimate political authority, he suggests, comes only from a social contract agreed upon by all citizens for their mutual preservation.
Individuals help make the general will and agree to abide by what it says.
If they don’t, they will be compelled by the majority to do so. As Rousseau says, “that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free ; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence.”
Rousseau’s society seems to be a society with much less class distinction. Everyone is equal because they all have an equal say in the lawmaking process.
Hobbes Locke Rousseau Thoughts People create gov’t in exchange for law and order People are born with natural rights, but give up some freedom to protect these rights The only good gov’t is one formed out of free will by the people, to protect the people Gov’t favored Absolute Monarchy Self-gov’t Representative Democracy Self-gov’t; Direct Democracy Quotes “ In a state of nature, Life is solitary, poor, nasty brutish, and short” “ All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” “ Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. “