Comparing Hobbes And Locke's Power In Relation To Society

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Hobbes and Locke find themselves at a standoff upon the question of the benefits surrounding absolute sovereign power in relation to society. Hobbes argues against Locke that absolute sovereign powers will rule without malevolence toward their subjects, and power should not be spread beyond one person. He says the idea of sovereign power being “divided” (Leviathan, 29:12) “against the essence of the commonwealth” (29:12) since “powers divided mutually destroy one another” (29:12). Division goes against Hobbes’ definition of a commonwealth – where creating power to defend people and their property “is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices unto …show more content…
Hobbes’ state of nature is not peaceful the way English civil society is for Locke. One must keep in mind that, Locke grounds this claim about the state of nature not being as violent as it is for Hobbes in a claim about human nature, reason, and temperament itself. Locke believes that an ability to perceive and follow natural law is universal, even in a state of nature. A transition to a sovereign state is necessary to integrate interpretation and enforcement of natural law. Hobbes claims people are naturally more passionate and selfish in an immediate, material sense, more afraid of physical harm and thus motivating striking first. Hobbes might make empirical or historical arguments, like this estimate of murder rates since the Middle …show more content…
While monarchs put down rebellions by peasants and aristocrats alike, for Hobbes this is expected, and is both good and right. Hobbes can point to Locke’s state of nature where people are not really prevented from forming first local and then provincial coalitions to rob and pillage their neighbors at ever-increasing range. What prevents bands of marauders from taking whatever they want by force? The psychological insecurity of wondering when such a band will arrive at one’s village is exactly the state of mind Hobbes means in his version of state of nature. Hobbes says that is why we need kings, to ensure alleviating constant fear. Locke’s claim such disorder will not happen is doubtful, more than Hobbes’ claim kings will rule benevolently. For Hobbes, the risk of kingly tyranny compares to the rare onslaught by a mythical creature, versus constant assault from numerous threats in a state of nature. Notice the way when Locke frames this issue in comparing his stance to Hobbes, his language implies that a just will against another unjust will in a state of nature will somehow be one-on-one: “men are not bound to submit to the unjust will of another: And if he that judges, judges amiss in his own, or any other case, he is answerable for it to the rest of mankind” (Second Treatise 213). Even if for Locke I am not bound morally to submit to the unjust will of a new band of marauders, (on Hobbes’ naturalistic

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