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Poli 1223 - Hobbes debates Locke

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Tony Litherland

on 9 February 2016

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Transcript of Poli 1223 - Hobbes debates Locke

Positive Law replaces traditional reasons for Gov
Modern Applications
All eyes on Hobbes - Leviathan
Thursday, February 27, 1975
Vol XCIII, No. 311
King accepts Hobbes' ideas
Hobbes declares that tradition is over
Hobbes argues in favor of the Executive
Locke declares Hobbes did not go far enough
Locke wins the debate 13 to 0
Global Implications are huge
Hobbes' argument in brief
Political Principles at work in Hobbes
Locke is even more of a proponent of the scientific method and how to understand politics via science.

Because men are inherently good, you can trust the legislature. No taxes without representation in the legislature.

The government is a tool to be used by people to govern themselves.

Life, liberty and property?
In a state of nature:
life is difficult but not unbearable (American Wilderness).
• Yes, I can
my way to a better life.
• Yes,
I need government. It is indispensable.
• Yes, I want a
I need government but with my
• I am willing to
surrender some
of my natural rights to the government is the government can give me security, prosperity and dignity.
• I always keep some rights: the right of self-defense, right to property, right to think for myself.
• What kind of government should I have?
• A
parliamentary system:
the legislature is the only one who can decide what is good for the country through open debate.
• The representatives must guard the diversity of interests at work in a polity.
Right to Revolt
Political Principles at work in Locke
American colonies pay close attention to the logic of Hobbes and find his assertions unacceptable.
Constitutional monarchy is the best way to govern
Locke prefers Legislature over Monarchy
Colonialists: The Legislature is the best way to go
British Colonies world wide await events back home
Critics worry about too much power
Hobbes debates Locke
Background Briefing
Scientific Understanding of Politics and government
• In a state of nature:
life is short, nasty, and brutish.
• I can
my way to a better life. Parable of the
Game Warden.

I need government.
• I want a
I need government but with my
• I am willing to
surrender some
of my natural rights to the government is the government can give me security, prosperity and dignity.
• I always keep some rights: the right of self-defense, right to property, right to think for myself.
• What kind of government should I have?
• A
constitutional monarchy:
the king is the only one who can decide what is good for the country.
• The Executive or President is the only one who can decide for the whole country.
Observe real phenomenon (test)
People world wide yearn for good government but are desperate for a strong leader.
The only logical conclusion is that I never want to live without a government. (
Mayflower Compact
Birth, property or Grace are rejected.
Social Contract
or agreement is accepted.
Limited government is created by consent.
Hobbes preferred a constitutional monarchy. Why?
First Article of the Constitution.
Which is better: one or many voices?
Track Record: Republics all around the world: do they perform better than other forms of government?

UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland
Argentina, South Africa, ....
Locke's Argument in brief
Contrast the state of nature between the two
Locke prefers the Legislature

The most critical difference is the right to revolt

Compare that right to the Christian right to resist evil.
Hobbes Wrote the LEVIATHAN in the 17th century
Read it
Read all about it
Even though Hobbes defends the monarchy, he does so with the new positive ideas of government. The justification for government is reason, power and science not tradition and especially not God.
The reason one supports an old institution is with the new idea of science. According to Hobbes, the only way to know something is to gain knowledge through the senses and no other way.
Which one did the Founders prefer?
Which one do post modern Americans prefer?
We are theoretically supporters of Locke but operationally, we are Hobbesian?
We expect the president to act like an elected King: Has the president become ad hoc king of the whole world?
Front cover of the Leviathan
King Charles I
Hobbes was trying to save the monarchy. He did it by justifying the monarchy through reason and evidence. Since mankind is happy to sin, they need a centralized and tough minded administrator to keep the bad guys under control.
"The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom."
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"
Thomas Jefferson paraphrases Locke
Wiltshire - Hobbes' birthplace
First Law:
Every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it, and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war. (Levaithan,

Second Law:
That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far-forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things, and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself. (Leviathan, xiv.5)
His belief is that the primary state of
nature is a state of war.
Because we cannot
all have what we want we
need to compromise and he
thinks we are incapable
of compromising.
His belief is that people could
do whatever they considered to
be fit with their actions
and possessions.
The State of Nature
Brute Force
Hobbes - the glass is half empty - people are terrible and need a strong government
Locke - the glass is half full - people are peaceable and need government to expand their options.
Are you a Hobbesian?
Are you a Lockean?
Lost his head.
Scepter of Justice
Sword of Power
The people are the chain link armor
Both men agree on the need for government
Who thought this?
Who thought this?
covenant, combine ourselves into a civil body politick
"For being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions" JL
-"If man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body; why will he part with his freedom?"

-"The enjoyment of it [property] is very uncertain and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he...the enjoyment of the property of he has in this state is very unsafe."

-"This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join society with others" JL
Examples of a state of Nature
Lord of the Flies
Examples of Strong Government
NSA searching for terrorists
US uses drones to kill US citizens
Examples preferred by Locke
Wild West
Cattle Barons
Wall Street
US arrests Japanese Americans
US forces Native Americans
Gilded age of America
How would Hobbes react to modern Libertarians?
And Locke?
Are you Hobbesian?
Are you Lockean?
Thursday November 27, 1975
Thursday May 27, 1976
74 years of marriage ???
January 5, 1978
Full transcript