Hobbes vs. Locke Essay

2026 Words Dec 27th, 2012 9 Pages
Ashlyn Brunk
Parson
POS 352
October, 2012
Exam 1: Hobbes/Locke
1. Compare and contrast Hobbes and Locke on political power? In answering this question explain Locke’s argument against Hobbes’s understanding of “paternal” and despotical power.
On the discussion of power and social structure, both John Locke and Thomas Hobbes introduce their theories on paternal and despotical power in Second Treatise of Government and Leviathan respectively. Both men believe that social order is constructed artificially and not by a divine being.
In Leviathan, Hobbes’s discusses the differences between paternal and despotical power. Even though he recognizes these differences he explains that power claimed by institution and power claimed by force
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Thomas Hobbes has a pessimistic view of a State of Nature. He views it as a state in which all humans cause conflict and war with each other to make gains. Human nature is mechanistic and a struggle for power, which is the natural conflict and the only aversion to conflict is the fear of death. In this state “the life of man [is] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes 186). This fear leads mankind to give up their rights, such as the right to kill someone, for safety, so that they do not kill you. This is the contract that all men adhere to in Hobbes’s State of Nature. John Locke explains his State of Nature in a more optimistic view than Hobbes as “a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions, and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man” (Locke 8). In his account all of mankind is equal, no one has more power or jurisdiction than another. He believes people are generally bound to the law of nature, laws that regulate what is morally acceptable and “teaches all mankind… no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possession” (Locke 9). God is the primary limiter of universal moral law and he designs these laws. Without these moral laws there is only self-interest that leads to war. When there is someone who breaks the law of nature we are all judge, jury and executioner to enforce it to where the

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