PHILOSOPHICAL ORIGINS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT by yurtgc548

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 18

									Hobbes & Locke
         Question for thought…

 Governments impose taxes on people,
  stop people from doing some things they
  want to do, and make people do other
  things they don’t want to do. Can this be
  justified? If so, by what kind of argument?
                Theories of Legitimacy
 The Divine Right of Kings: kings are authorized to rule
  on earth by God, which makes their rule legitimate.
   – “Delegation from above”
   – Rebellion against the king is rebellion against God.

 Consent of the Governed: legitimate governments are
  authorized to rule by the people.
   – “Delegation from below”

 Governments by their nature impose rules, prohibit
  activities, conscript people, levy taxes, and generally
  force people to do things they would not voluntarily do.
   – So we may have a paradox of consent: why would people
     consent to have rules, prohibitions, taxes, etc. imposed on them?
   – Answer: because the alternative (anarchy) is worse.
          Social Contract Theory -
                Background
 England during 1649-1700 was in a era of revolution,
  regicide, civil war, and political disorder.
   – Claims of divine right had largely lost their
     persuasiveness.

 Political philosophers sought a rational basis for legitimate
  government.

 Their basic argument:
   – social contract theory (“consent of the governed”)
           The State of Nature
 Both Hobbes and Locke begin with a
  “thought experiment.”
   – They imagine a state of nature, i.e., the
     complete absence of political institutions
     and laws.
      This is a state of “natural liberty.”
Thomas Hobbes
        Hobbes’ theories based on his
         belief that man was basically
         greedy, selfish, and cruel. Life
         would be a state of constant
         warfare without a strong
         government to control man's
         natural impulses.
        People would enter into a Social
         Contract to escape from this.
         People exchange most of their
         freedoms for the safety of
         organized society.
        Once people entered into this
         contract, there was no release.
         Hobbes supported the idea of
         absolute monarchs
             Hobbes: The State of War
… a time of war, where every man
  is enemy to every man, … men
  live without other security than
  what their own strength and
  their own invention shall furnish
  them withal. In such condition
  there is no place for industry,
  because the fruit thereof is
  uncertain: and consequently no
  culture of the earth… no arts; no
  letters; no society; and which is
  worst of all, continual fear, and
  danger of violent death; and the
  life of man is solitary, poor,
  nasty, brutish, and short.
          Hobbes: The Social Contract

 The solution to the state war is clear: a social contract or
  covenant between every man and every other man, in
  which everyone agrees to
   – renounce their natural freedom, and
   – authorize a single person (or perhaps a body of men) to act as a
     governor to enforce a state of peace.
        The governor requires resources, needs to impose taxes, enforce
         regulations, etc.

 Text of the social contract:
   – I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this
     assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and
     authorize all his actions in like manner.
                 John Locke

 John Locke -believed
   that all people had
   Natural Rights:
–life, liberty, property
 The purpose of
   government is to
   protect these rights
        Locke’s State of Nature
 Locke’s social contract theory is similar in basic structure
  and logic, but differs importantly in detail.

 In Locke’s view, the state of nature is “inconvenient” and
  does not promote safety and happiness, but it is not as
  disastrous as Hobbes’ state of nature.
   – People could do better (under a good government),
     but they also could do worse (under a bad
     government).
   – So consenting to establish a government could make
     people better but it could also make them worse off
     (depending on the nature of the government).
    Consequences of a State of Nature
   If man in the state of Nature be so free as has been
    said, if he be absolute lord of his own person and
    possessions, equal to the greatest and subject to
    nobody, why will he part with his [natural] freedom and
    subject himself to the dominion and control of any other
    power?

   To which Locke answer, that though in the state of
    Nature people have such rights, the enjoyment of them
    is uncertain and constantly exposed to the danger of
    others; there is no judge of equality and justice, the
    enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very
    unsafe, very insecure.

   The state of nature is simply another term for anarchy
    in its literal sense
       Locke on human nature

 Locke also based his theories on his assessment
  of human nature. He believed that people could be
  reasonable and moral. He explained that all men
  have Natural Rights, which are Life, Liberty, and
  Property, and that the purpose of government was
  to protect these rights.
 Locke supported a limited government that
  protected people's natural rights.
        Locke’s Social Contract
 In Locke’s theory, rational people in the state of nature
  will not agree to an social contract that (like Hobbes’
  contract) sets no limits on the powers of the government.

 But they will agree
   – to give up some (but not all) of their natural freedoms;
   – to delegate some (but not all) powers to the government; and
   – they thereby authorize the government to do some things (but
     not other things).

 In general, they will consent to a limited government but
  not an unlimited government (like Hobbes’ Leviathan).
                          John Locke
 Locke believed that people held
  the right to rebel if their natural
  rights were being denied
 [When] the legislature shall . . .
  grasp [for] themselves, or put
  into the hands of another, an
  absolute power over their lives,
  liberties, and estates of the
  people, . . . They forfeit the
   power the people had put into
   their hands… and it [passes] to
   the people, who have a right to
   resume their original liberty. . .
   — John Locke, Two Treatises on
   Civil Government
                Montesquieu
 (MAHN-tuh-SKYOO)
 The Spirit of the Laws (1748
 Devoted himself to the study of
  political liberty
 Studied Ancient Rome
 Felt that England was the best
  government of his time
 “Power should be a check to
  power”
 Separation of powers
        Voltaire

 Francois Marie Arouet
 Published more then 70 books
 Made frequent targets of the
   clergy, aristocracy, and the government
 Twice sent to French prison
 Fought for tolerance
 Exiled from France, returned after two years
  later fled another prison term
   Major ideas of the Enlightenment
 Locke- natural rights (life, liberty, property)
   – Fundamental to US Declaration of Independence
 Montesquieu- separation of powers
   – France and U.S. use it
 Voltaire- freedom of thought and expression
   – Guaranteed in US Bill of Rights
 Voltaire- religious freedom
   – Guaranteed in US Bill of Rights
           Mary Wollstonecraft
 Wrote an essay:
  – A Vindication of the
    Rights of Woman in
    1792
 Believed that woman
  should be educated
  like men

								
To top