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Presentation on theme: "POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS 101"— Presentation transcript:


2 PHILOSOPHERS Thomas Hobbes John Locke Baron de Montesquieu
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Thomas Paine

3 HOBBES English philosopher who stressed governmental power as seen in “Leviathan”, his major work. Sovereign’s power should be unlimited. The STATE originated in a “social contract”. Individuals protected from “brutish” instincts.


5 LEVIATHAN (1651) Imaginary “state of nature”, in which people live without government. People would be in constant war with one another. People would be free to do what they wanted, but nobody could enjoy this freedom because others would have the right to trample those very freedoms. All citizens agree to obey a single power that is strong enough to force everyone to follow the rules and live in peace. This grants the sovereign absolute power.

6 JOHN LOCKE English philosopher who accepted and revised the social contract theory. A major influence to the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist.

Attacks the theory of divine right of kings and the nature of the state by Hobbes. Sovereignty did not reside in the state but with the people. The state is supreme, but only if it is bound by civil and “natural” law. Many of Locke’s political ideas about natural rights, property rights, the duty of government to protect those rights, and the rule of the majority were later embodied in the Constitution.

8 Revolution is not only a right, but an obligation.

9 He advocated a system of checks and balances.
Government should be comprised of three branches, of which the legislative is more powerful than the executive or judicial. He also believed in religious freedom, the separation of church and state, and the right to unionize.

10 BARON de MONTESQUIEU (1689-1755)

11 French political philosopher who argued for a separation of governmental powers into executive, judicial, and legislative bodies. Abuse of power, slavery, and intolerance were evil. Government can avoid these evils by separating power, by governing with honor rather than through fear, and by upholding human dignity. His ideas inspired our Constitution and France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man.

12 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78)

13 Science, art, and social institutions have corrupted humankind.
The natural, or primitive, state is morally superior to the civilized state. He defended the popular will against divine right. In “Emile” he believed education should be focused upon expression, not repression in order to produce a well-balanced, freethinking child.

There is a social contract but that it supported an unlimited government subject to democratic control. Combines absolutism with democracy. If government is necessary, then only consent could make government legitimate. But the government cannot have only limited powers, because who defines limits then? Government actions should be guided by the “general will”. Or, majority vote.


16 COMMON SENSE On January 10, 1776 he published his most important work, “Common Sense”, a pamphlet that asserted that Great Britain was exploiting the American colonies. It was just common sense to become independent and establish their own republican form of government.

17 WHO SAID IT? Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain. In the state of nature…all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the law. Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us. Words are the money of fools. Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

18 John Locke Baron Charles de Montesquieu Thomas Paine Thomas Hobbes Jean-Jacques Rousseau

19 FINAL THOUGHTS Thus, social contract theory basically states that in order to live in a society, humans agree to a social contract. They sacrifice some freedoms in order to obtain certain rights. The state is created in order to enforce the contract. What freedoms would you surrender and which rights would you demand in return?



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