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Thomas Hobbes

According to Thomas Hobbes, life of man would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (p. 58) in the absence of a state that set laws and boundaries for human interaction. Hobbes argues that nature has made men equal and that “even the weakest man is strong enough to kill the strongest” (p. 58). Disregarding the knowledge about the sciences also makes every man equal in intellect. This equality in the nature man causes the war between each man in the absence of an authority to govern over their actions.

According to Hobbes, there are three principal causes of discord in the nature of man which are competition, distrust and glory accordingly. Competition pushes man to invade other properties for his own gain; distrust makes man seek for safety, and glory for reputation. Since in the state of nature, all men are equal, they will all be driven by their desire to invade other property, defend their own property from other that may invade it, and seek glory through conquering other men. Thus, every man will be enemies seeking only their own desires and benefit; a state of war between every man.

The state of war, which is brought by the absence of governing authority, will make the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short; solitary since every men are enemies of one another-every man for himself, poor because there will be no place for hard work due to the uncertainty that it will not be taken away by others; nasty and brutish for every man will be pushed by their desires to invade other property, and short because of the “continual fear and danger of violent death” (Hobbes p. 58).

On the other hand, John Locke argue that a mediating and regulating state is necessary for economic interaction even in a condition wherein individuals are able to respect each other’s life and property and act on basic moral rules. This is because in the state of nature, where there is no government, man has two powers according to Locke; “first is to do whatever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and of others” and the second is the power “to punish crimes committed against the law of nature” (p. 41). These powers are the reason why a system of government is necessary in order to preserve the good interaction between individuals.

It is mans nature to be bias and seek his personal good. Thus, even in the case that every respect each other and follow basic laws of morality, there will always be prejudices without the presence of a state. It is likely that he is to favor personal preservation rather than that of others if he is required to choose. The second power given to man in the state of nature makes it more necessary to have an establish state and government. It is very irrational that every man is to judge his own actions/cases. In such cases, it is likely that self-love will be stronger even in the case where that person has wronged the other.

Locke also argues that the punishment will be influenced by personal biases in cases wherein the family or friends of the judge are involved. Therefore, a state that governs, implements laws, and determine punishments for violating the laws is necessary. Both Hobbes and Locke give emphasis on the importance of having a form government in order to suppress the nature of man and to limit their actions. Without such government, man will be in the state of war against each and every man for his own.

Works Cited

Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. Locke, J. (1689). Second Treatise of Government.

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