Natural Law: Philosopher Thomas Hobbes Leviathan

2148 Words 9 Pages
Student ID: 20388703
Ethics. Dr. Fisher
Natural Laws (Hobbes) - Critical Essay #1

“Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes, 78), is how Philosopher Thomas Hobbes would describe his state of nature in his 1651 book, the “The Leviathan”. In Hobbes’ state of nature, also know as the state of war, there consists of no central government. Without this governing body or set of laws, the individuals within this state of nature are competing for scarce resources and resorting to anything as long as it assures them food, shelter, and mates. Individuals will always live in fear in this state of war, scared to progress or enrich their own lives with the fear that they could be killed or have their possessions stolen at any given moment. For
…show more content…
These extreme conditions and casting of individuals to fend for themselves in an all out war makes the state of war an undesirable place to live. Fortunately for these individuals, there are opportunities to guarantee their well-being in this state of nature. Hobbes notes that the social contract theory is an agreement among two individuals within a society built on trust and verbal agreement. Whether this be an agreement to not steal each other 's crops, or stealing money, or even killing each other, social contracts allow individuals to form a bond that will help each other to succeed within their society. Hobbes elaborates by explaining that “he which declares he thinks it reason to deceive those that help him can in reason expect no other means of safety than what can be had from his own single power” (Hobbes, 90). In other words, two individuals would understand that this is in the best interest for the both of them in the long run, since breaking the social contract would make themselves vulnerable to thievery and murder, there is more incentive to abide by the social contract you form, since the benefit of safety and the ability to flourish far outweigh the consequences. Bonds formed by …show more content…
Hobbes’ state of nature is of neutral morality. Since the environment is amoral, only the individuals within it can disrupt this neutrality. Individuals can choose to act immorally by lying, stealing, or committing murder since there is no culture to indicate to them that it is wrong. However, if they choose to not abide by their natural rights, they are prone to the same consequences from the acts they commit. While cultural relativism looks back at the culture to decipher right and wrong, Hobbes’ viewpoint suggests that individuals are right until they commit a crime and then they are deemed wrong. The issue is in a state of nature, we cannot look back to a culture to decide for ourselves what is moral and immoral in a state of war when there are individuals who are not bound by laws or a governing body to oversee them. Additionally, Hobbes would agree that the idea of cultural relativism itself can serve as its own governing body over a culture. It can serve as a set of invisible rules that are followed within cultures when the individuals within them question the morality of an act. Similar to the state of war, social contracts help to anchor the relationships and common interests of individuals. Culture in itself serves as

Related Documents