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1651 HOBBES AND THE LEVIATHAN.  How is social order possible?  Foundation of Western political philosophy, social contract theory, right of the individual.

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Presentation on theme: "1651 HOBBES AND THE LEVIATHAN.  How is social order possible?  Foundation of Western political philosophy, social contract theory, right of the individual."— Presentation transcript:

1 1651 HOBBES AND THE LEVIATHAN

2  How is social order possible?  Foundation of Western political philosophy, social contract theory, right of the individual.  Materialism: human beings composed of matter and motion, obeying physical law. HOBBES’ QUESTION

3  People have the capacity to reason  They weigh the costs and benefits  They consider the consequences of their actions HOBBES’ ASSUMPTIONS

4  People are self-interested  They seek to attain what they desire  Security (avoid death and injury)  Reputation (status)  Gain (possessions) HOBBES’ ASSUMPTIONS, CONT’D

5  Their ability to attain what they desire depends on their power  Because men want a happy life, they seek sufficient power to ensure that life  All men have a “restless desire for power” ASSUMPTIONS, CONT’D

6  Hobbes’ approach: a theory of political obligation grounded in human rationality  When is it rational for us as self-interested individuals to obey a ruler?  When are we obliged to do so? HOBBES: NEW APPROACHES TO AN OLD PROBLEM

7  Hobbes’ solution: we must learn to recognize that our obligations to obey the sovereign are rationally justified, and hence to respect the sovereign power  “Internal” focus  Assumes people are not educable  Assumes a certain amount of rationality and self-interest HOBBES: NEW APPROACHES TO AN OLD PROBLEM

8  What is our natural condition? Are people naturally equal?  Aristotle: No, some are masters and some are slaves according to the degree of rationality  Christian philosophy: yes, they are all equal in that all have an immortal soul  Hobbes: yes, they are all equal in one important respect: equality to kill THE STATE OF NATURE

9  People are insecure, and live in a constant fear of injury and death  There is no place for industry, because the fruit of it is uncertain  Hence, no agriculture, navigation, building, culture, science  Life is short and unpleasant CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ‘ STATE OF NATURE ’

10  Everyone is strong enough to kill the strongest  Everyone thinks him/herself above average in practical intellectual ability (prudence)  But prudence is merely experience  Ergo, there are no natural distinctions distinguishing masters from slaves, or rulers from ruled EQUALITY

11  What is our most important natural desire?  Aristotle: the desire to have a good life  Hobbes: the desire to avoid violent death THE STATE OF NATURE

12  Do our most important natural desires lead to social integration or disintegration?  Aristotle: our important natural desires lead to the creation of small communities and then to larger communities. We need and desire to be with others.  Hobbes: our important natural desires lead to social disintegration, given our natural equality in the ability to kill or be killed. THE STATE OF NATURE

13  Are our most important desires naturally integrative or disintegrative? THE STATE OF NATURE

14  Natural causes of conflict:  Distrust: I do not trust you not to kill me, so I try to kill you first  Love of gain (a natural desire): I know myself equal to you, and I want your things  Love of glory (a natural desire): I think myself (erroneously) better than you are, and think I deserve reparation THE STATE OF NATURE

15 Trust and cooperate Do not trust, attack Trust and cooperate We gain from cooperating: arts, sciences, etc. One of us gets killed, the other lives and takes your property Do not trust, attack One of us gets killed, the other lives and takes your property One or both of us may get killed THE STATE OF NATURE

16  “In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Chapter 13)Chapter 13 THE STATE OF NATURE

17  Is there a right to self-preservation? How far does it extend?  “even to one another’s bodies” in the state of nature  The justification of this right comes from the universal interest in preserving yourself RIGHTS

18  Because everyone has the same right to everything, there can be no justice or injustice in the state of nature  Justice is a human construction that we have to make possible RIGHTS AND JUSTICE

19  Is Hobbes right?  Are there any places in the state of nature today? RIGHTS AND JUSTICE

20  There is an empirical problem: states actually exist  The problem is not only empirical but also normative: are we obligated to obey existing states?  We can only appeal to what is rational for us to do, not to God or some other agency ESCAPING THE STATE OF NATURE: THE PROBLEM

21  Could the problem be solved through the prospect of future cooperation?  The stakes are always too high; death prevents future cooperation  Repeated cooperation does not solve the problem of how we come to have obligations to the state HOW DO WE ESCAPE THE STATE OF NATURE?

22  Hobbes’ solution: we all together transfer (most of) our right to everything to a specific person to act in our name to preserve ourselves  This person is then authorized (we are its “authors”) to use all means necessary to preserve the peace (to use “us”) THE SOVEREIGN

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24  Why is this a solution?  The sovereign has enough power (all of us) to prevent attacks by any of us individually THE SOVEREIGN

25  Why is this a solution?  With the sovereign in place, what can be reasonably expected of others shifts: we can now expect that they will not attack us, so we can now speak of justice and injustice THE SOVEREIGN

26  Why is this a solution?  The act of transferring our right to everything to the sovereign creates a presumptive obligation to obey the sovereign THE SOVEREIGN

27  The Sovereign is an artificial person  It can be a single natural person (a monarch)  Or a collection of people that can act in a unified way (an assembly) THE SOVEREIGN

28  For Hobbes, the most important thing is that there be a sovereign, not so much the form it takes  For Aristotle, the more important question is the form of government SOVEREIGNTY AND POLITICAL REGIMES

29  For Aristotle, the purpose of politics is to realize man’s highest good  The best regime most fully realizes the highest good, but other regimes also realize it to a smaller extent  For Hobbes, the purpose of politics is to avoid the worst of evils  Any regime avoids the worst of evils (war) POLITICS

30  Hobbes wants to remind us that our obligations to obey the state are rationally justified  They are obligations (i.e., they apply generally)  They are in accord with our self-interest, and in particular with our interest in avoiding violent death  Conflict arises ultimately from error and irrationality, but it does not require extensive education to solve it  Focuses on the internal problem of conflict, leaving the external problem unresolved HOBBES’ APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM OF CONFLICT


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