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Political Theory

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Roland Löchli

on 18 November 2016

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Transcript of Political Theory

Political Theory
GOAL!
Thank you!
Political Theory

involves the analytical study of
ideas
and
doctrines
that have been central to political thought and action

it has taken the form of a history of political thought, focusing upon a collection of
major thinkers
(e.g. from Plato to Marx) and a cannon of
classic texts
The outcome of (Western Liberal) Political Theory

in its classic guise,
liberalism
assumes that individuals are for the most part motivated by
self-interest

it sees the material aspect of interest as best realized through exchange in a
market
economy, to the benefit of all

politics enters when interests cannot be so met to mutual benefit

politics is therefore largely about how to reconcile and aggregate individual interests, and takes place under a supposedly neutral set of
constitutional
rules
Key Questions

as it studies the ends and means of political action, it is clearly concerned with
ethical
and
normative
questions:

'why should I obey the state?', 'how should rewards be distributed?', 'what should be the limits of individual liberty?'
Place of Political Theory within the Scientific World

for a long time, the challenge for the identity of Political Theory has been how to position itself productively in three sorts of locations: in relation to the academic disciplines of (1) political science, (2) history, and (3) philosophy

between the world of
(1) politics
and the more abstract, ruminative register of
(2) theory

between
(1) canonical political theory
and the
(2) newer resources
on which political theorists increasingly draw
The (Dead?) Antagonist of Liberalism: Marxism

Marxism scorned liberalism's individualist ontology, pointing instead to the centrality of
social classes
in political conflict

the
market
was seen not as a mechanism for meeting individual interests, but as a generator of
oppression
and
inequality
Key Concepts in Political Theory

(1) Democracy

(2) Sovereignty and Authority

(3) Justice

(4) Liberty

(5) Relationship between the Individual and the State
The Ancient Greeks | Mind Games
before
Political Theorizing

(1) speculation about the gods | (2) how should a properly conducted household be run | (3) what moral instructions did the Homeric poems contain | (4) what is the essence of the natural world | (5) what are the duties and limits of hospitality
The Ancient Greeks as Pragmatic Thinkers

How?
before
Why? | how should a stranger be treated | how should war be waged | how should the work of a farm be organized

connection between
thought
and
action
| thinking about the proper or best way of doing something
Homer | The
Iliad
and
Odyssey

if read properly, they could answer almost any conceivable question about how a man should act towards his fellow men and towards the gods

the poems also depict how the gods act towards men | 'natural' disasters, plagues, thunderstorms, contrary winds at sea

a Homeric system | the
(1) world of nature
, the
(2) world of men
, and the
(3) world of gods
| explains and justifies almost everything that goes on in the world and which answers almost any questions that someone living in the world would care to ask
Plato and the Stability of Class Rule | a Totalitarian Programme?

(1) strict division of classes

(2) fate of the state tied to the fate of the ruling class | deep interest in the unity of the ruling class

(3) ruling class has a monopoly on military virtues and training | right to carry arms

(4) censorship of all intellectual activities of the ruling class

(5) the state must be self-sufficient | it must aim at economic autarchy
Plato's
Republic


concerned with
man
in
action
, occupied with the problems of moral and political life | it is also a philosophy of
man
in
thought
and of the laws of his thinking | complete philosophy of man

what is a
good

man
and how is a good man made? | what is
justice
? | why should a person be
just
? is it always better to be
just
than unjust? | is
justice
only for the weak? | how does the good, best, or
ideal city
look like? | which social institutions should regulate the ideal city?
Preliminary Answers to the Main Questions of the Republic

a good man must be a member of a city, and could be made good only through membership of a state

a good man must be possessed of
knowledge

moral philosophy ascends into political science | second question | what is the good state and how is the good state made?

third question | what is the ultimate knowledge of which a good man must be possessed in order to be good?

fourth question | by what methods will the good city lead its citizens towards the ultimate knowledge?
Plato on Justice

Justice as a quality of the soul, in virtue of which the irrational desire to taste every pleasure and to gain a selfish satisfaction out of every object is set aside, and accommodated themselves to the discharge of a single function for the
general
benefit | direct critique to the Sophists preaching self-satisfaction

now longer should individualism infect the city | a spirit of
collectivism
should permeate the individual | the city should demand of the ruler the sacrifice of his private ends to the interests of the general welfare | harmony of the interests of the state and the individual?
Plato's Mission in the Republic

prove that the eternal laws of morality are no mere 'conventions', which must be destroyed to make way for a regime of 'nature' | the eternal laws of morality are rooted in the nature of the human soul and in the system of the universe

show that the city
CANNOT
be regarded as a chance congeries of individuals, to be exploited by the
strongest
individual

show that the city is a communion of souls rationally and necessarily united for the pursuit of a moral end, and rationally and unselfishly guided towards that end by the wisdom of those who know the nature of the soul and the purpose of the world
Plato on the deficiencies of Athenian democracy

(1) ubiquity of ignorance masquerading in the guise of knowledge | need to create efficiency in the place of amateur incompetence | need for
specialization

(2) political selfishness and civil discord | need to be replaced by harmony | need for
unification
Plato on Democracy

ignorance is the especial curse of democracy | instead of the professional, the amateur was predominant

in Athens, democracy seemed only to mean the divine right of the ignorant to govern wrong | parade of a false equality | unjust system

a man who attempts to govern his fellows, when at best e is only fit to be a tolerable craftsman is mistaken and unjust
Basic Political Systems in Ancient Greece

rule by (1) One, (2) the Few, or (3) the Many

nature of politics | oligarchy a conspiracy of the rich to rob the poor? democracy a conspiracy of the poor to rob the rich?

nature of power | was power there to be used to further one's interests or the interests of the group to which one belonged?
Plato's Writings

35 dialogues and 13 letters have come down to us as Plato's writings

Socrates, Plato's teacher, is the chief character in most of the Platonic dialogues

Plato's dialogues as a monument to the life of Socrates? | they all show how Socrates engaged in his most important work, the awakening of his fellow men and attempting to guide them toward the
good

life
which he himself was living

only three dialogues indicate by their very titles that they are devoted to political philosophy/theory |
(1)
Republic
, (2)
Statesman
, and (3)
Laws
(Possible) Setting of the Republic

in the Republic, Socrates discusses the nature of
justice
with a fairly large number of people

we may assume that the dialogue takes place in an era of political
decay
of Athens, that at any rate Socrates was thinking of the restoration of political stability
Book I of the
Republic

the discussion points to the view that justice is the art which gives to each man what is good for his soul

i.e., in a broader sense, justice is full dedication to the common good | justice means public-spiritedness, full dedication to one's city as a particular society which as such is potentially the enemy of other cities

i.e., justice is inseparable from philosophy, the medicine of the soul

i.e., there cannot be justice among men unless the philosophers rule
The Theory of the City-State

most modern political ideas began with reflection of Greek thinkers upon the institutions of the city-state
Social Classes in the City-State

as compared with modern states the ancient city-state was exceedingly small both in area and population

three main classes | (1) forced laborers | (2) metics (resident-foreigners) | (3) citizens (farmers, artisans, tradesmen)

their (3) political activities took place in such time as they could spare from their private occupations
Citizens in the City-State

members of the city and entitled to take part in its political life

it was a privilege attained by birth, for a Greek remained citizen of the city to which hos parents belonged
Political Rights in the City-State

attending town-meeting < eligibility to a narrower or wider range of offices (according to the degree of democracy)
Political Institutions in the City-State

the whole body of male citizens formed the
Assembly
, a town-meeting (regularly ten times per year) which every Athenian was entitled to attend after he had reached the age of 20

the
Magistrates
and the
Council
(permitted in a given case or for a short term, usually without re-election, to act in the name of the people) were responsible to the Assembly and answerable to its control

the
Magistrates
were a board of ten
the
Council
(of 500) and the
courts
with their large popular juries formed the key to popular government
Purposes of
the Republic

study the concept of
justice
through the good/best state

demonstrate in
the Republic
that
justice = happiness
and injustice = misery

result | the just citizen is
always
happier than the unjust citizen

establish Plato's value system at a time when competing value systems existed
Historical Circumstances

city-states (
polis
) as main political units

Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta 430-404 BC

vicious infighting in Athens between oligarchic and democratic factions for control over the city-state
Plato's Unequal Conception of the Citizen-Body as the Basis of his Class Society

a three-partite human soul based on

(1) reason |
ruler(s)

(2) spirit |
guardians/soldiers

(3) (different kinds of) appetite |
workers
Plato's Conception of Justice

Justice is the
integrating principle
in the good/best city-state, because it (1) binds social classes to each other and is the (2) basis for the unity of the ruling group

Education
is the means to cultivate justice within citizens
Plato's Good/Best/Just City

citizen-body divided into three classes ((1) ruler(s)/ruling guardians, (2) soldiers/auxiliary guardians, (3) workers

organic unity of the parts

ruled by a philosopher, the wisest individual in the city

ruling is for the good of the object not of the practitioner (analogy between doctor and patient)

education and training for both sexes
Equality in the Just State

Plato believed that rifts within the elite endangered the unity of the city-state

no private families
in the two ruling classes

radical limits on property
in the ruling classes

common meals and mating festivals
Basic Political Systems in Ancient Greece

Rule by
One
for the Common Good |
Monarchy

Rule by
One
for Self-Interest |
Tyranny

Rule by
Few
for the Common Good |
Aristocracy

Rule by
Few
for Self-Interest |
Oligarchy

Rule by
Many
for the Common Good |
Polity/Democracy

Rule by
Many
for Self-Interest |
Mob-Rule/Democracy
Aristotle
The Virtue of Justice

For Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
justice
is the
first

virtue
of individual human beings

Aristotle argues in the
Nicomachean

Ethics
that
justice
counts as the
whole

of

virtue
and that it is the virtue that expresses one's conception of oneself as a member of a community of
free
and
equal

human

beings
: as a
citizen

justice
concerns the
proper treatment
of
other people

I. Comprehensive/Universal Justice = Lawfulness

II. Particular Justice
| (1) distributive justice | (2) corrective justice | (3) reciprocal justice
= Fairness | Equality
Relationship between a Whole and its Parts

citizens
, as
parts
, take their bearing from the
polity
, as
a whole
, and also that a
polity
, constituted by its
citizens
, takes its bearing from them

Aristotle explores the nature of the polity by way of his investigation of citizenship
Distributive Justice
| a legislative matter concerning who, in a polity, should get honor, wealth, power, offices, and other divisible goods and benefits
| officials

Corrective Justice
| a matter for the magistrates, concerned with correcting voluntary and involuntary wrongs
| officials

Reciprocal Justice
| fair exchange of goods and services | bond and 'salvation' of a polity | it is ast work in cementing friendship and social harmony
| members of a polity
The Scope of Particular Justice

External Goods or Goods of Fortune | (1) friends | (2) wealth | (3) political power | (4) good birth | (5) satisfactory children | (6) personal beauty...

...but most importantly (1) honor | (2) wealth | (3) safety | things one might want
more

than one's fair share of

possible vices | avoiding military service | cheating on taxes
Aristotle and Ethics

we study ethics to
improve
our lives

the principal concern of ethics is the
nature of human well-being

virtues
are central to a well-lived life

what we need to live well is a proper appreciation of the way in which such
goods
as friendship, pleasure, honor, and wealth
fit together as a whole

Aristotle's Ethical Works

Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises
|
Nicomachean Ethics
|
Eudemian Ethics

they begin with a discussion of
happiness (
eudaimonia
)
and turn to an examination of the nature of
virtue (
arete
)
and the character traits that human beings need in order to live life at its best

Solon's dictum | no man should be counted happy until he is dead
The Human Good

there are differences of opinion about what is
best for human beings

to profit from ethical inquiry we must resolve this disagreement | ethics = theoretical AND practical discipline

Aristotle's search for
the
good is a search for the highest good and he assumes that it has three characteristics |
(1)
it is desirable for itself |
(2)
it is NOT desirable for the sake of some other good |
(3)
all other goods are desirable for its sake
The Highest Good = Living Well = Happiness

no one tries to live well for the sake of some further goal

being
happy
is the highest end and all subordinate goals, health, wealth, and other resources, are sought because they promote
well-being

which goods does
happiness
consist in?
The Function (
Ergon
) of a Human Being

the function of a human being consists in
(1) activity of the rational part of the soul
(2) in accordance with virtue

human beings are the only species that has a rational soul

the good of a human being must have something to do with being human | our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason

using
reason
well
over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in
Two Kinds of Virtues

I. Pertaining to the part of the soul that engages in reasoning |
intellectual

virtues
| virtues of mind or intellect

I.1 Intellectual virtues that pertain to
theoretical
reasoning
I.2 Intellectual virtues that pertain to
practical
thinking

Particular intellectual virtues | (1) practical wisdom | (2) theoretical wisdom

II. Pertaining to the part of the soul that is capable of
following
reason |
ethical

virtues
| virtues of character

Particular ethical virtues | (1) justice | (2) temperance | (3) courage | (4) generosity

Book III of Aristotle's Politics

Principal task of Book III | classifying political systems and comparing their merits and deficiencies

Fundamental concept |
common good
in
correct constitutions
as opposed to the
own good
of the ruler(s) in
deviant constitutions

What is the practical import of the distinction? | a guide for those who wish to found a new city? | whether to become a citizen of this or that already existing city? because existing cities can change their constitutions?

if it is deviant, they might favor a revolution that transforms it into a correct constitution | or transform a correct system into one that is even better?
The Common Good

Is the common good served if some citizens are singled out for better treatment? | YES | he opposes that land be divided equally | high offices should be filled only by those most qualified | equal rule ONLY among equals

A different form of egalitarianism is built into his concept of the common good | he advises oligarchies and democracies to achieve a more nearly equal balance between the rich and the poor

Equality of opportunity | conditions favorable to the development of good citizens and good human beings | 'the city wishes to be composed of those who are equal and alike, so far as it can'

a constitution that promotes the common good is an 'equal constitution'
Liberty
Liberty

Political literature is littered with proclamations that humankind should break
free
from some form of enslavement

yet the popularity of freedom is often matched by confusion about what the term actually means

is freedom an
unconditional goal
or does it have
costs
or
drawbacks
? |
how

much

freedom
should individuals and groups enjoy? | what does it
mean
to be
free
?

Does freedom mean (1) being left alone to act as one chooses or (2) does it imply some kind of fulfillment, self-realization or personal development?
Liberty in Philosophy

In philosophy, liberty is examined as a
property of the will

Do individuals possess
free
will
or are their actions entirely determined?
Positive and Negative Liberty

distinction between being
free to
do something and being
free from
something
Value-Free Concept of Liberty

Form | X is
free

from
Y to
do
or
be
Z

the apparently deep question 'are we free?' is meaningless, and should be replaced by a more complete and specific statement about
what
we are
free

from
, and
what
we are
free
to
do

while we may be free from physical assault, we are NOT free from laws which prevent us assaulting fellow citizens
Liberty and License

Being
free
suggests the absence of constraints or restrictions

However, few people are prepared to support the removal of all restrictions or constraints upon the individual

The liberty-license distinction begs the question | which liberties are we willing to approve (e.g. freedom of speech; but to what extent?), and whioch ones are we justified in curtailing (e.g. freedom to murder)

License means the
abuse
of freedom | it is the point at which freedom becomes
excessive
|
JS

Mill'
s
harm

principle

Whereas (1) liberty is usually thought to be wholesome, desirable and morally enlightening, (2) license is oppressive, objectionable and morally corrupt
Robinson Crusoe's Liberty

Robinson enjoyed the
greatest
possible measure of
negative

liberty
since no one else on his island could check or constrain him, but he was a stunted and
unfree
individual, deprived of the social relationships trough which human beings achieve fulfillment (Marx's concept of alienation) and are embodied in
positive

liberty
Machiavelli
Il Principe
Structure of The Prince

Chapters I-X | cover various types of states and how to acquire them

Chapters XI-XIV | address military matters

Chapters XV-XVIII | discuss princely conduct

Chapters XIX-XXIII | contain more advice on maxims

Chapters XXIV-XXVI | revolve around the humiliation of Italian states and redemption through (1) the ministrations of the Medici and (2)
fortuna
Main Themes of the Prince

From the very beginning and throughout
The

Prince
, there is the vision of
greatness
(power) and
territorial

aggrandizement
| from a (1) city-state principality to a (2) territorial republic

Machiavelli as a Renaissance
political

realist
?
The

Prince
| A Mirror for Princes

neither a scholarly treatise nor a utopian vision,
The

Prince
is a
manifesto
of action

What action? | Militarist prince who will (1) conquer territory with a (2) popular army and then seek to (3) incorporate conquered cities and provinces into his domains via indirect rule

Machiavelli believed that the study of concrete events could generate political knowledge and be used to cure present and future ills
Historical Background | Tuscany as a Territorial State?

Restored by
Spanish

arms
and in command of the papacy, the House of Medici in Florence was ideally positioned to assemble a territorial state large enough to act as a barrier to invasion

Cardinal Giovanni de
Medici
was elected to the
papacy
and took the name Leo X in 1513

To Machiavelli, the Medici had the opportunity of a lifetime to redeem Italy
The New Prince |
Tyrant
or
Founder
?

Machiavelli needs a prince to (1) organize a popular army, (2) expel the barbarian invaders, and (3) acquire a territorial state

Rather than a founder or tyrant, the ideal prince could well be described as an
innovator
Machiavelli's Independent Variables |
Fortuna
,
Virtu
&
Necessita

Fortuna
|
if we depend on
fortuna
to raise us up, we are liable to fall more terribly when she turns against us, as she is almost certain to do in the end |
fortuna
only shows her power when men of
virtu
fail to stand up to her | fortuna likes to follow an even wait upon virtu, and generally smiles on those who exhibit it

Virtu
| the quality which enables a prince to withstand the blows of fortuna, to attract the goddess' favor, and to rise in consequence to the heights of princely fame, winning honor and glory for himself and security for his government

Necessita
| a prince will be guided by the dictates of necessity | if he wishes to maintain his power, he must always be preapred to act immorally when this becomes necessary | in order to maintain his power, he will often be forced by necessity to act treacherously, ruthlessly, or inhumanely

Aristotle on Justice

Different conceptions of justice | (
1
)
Universal

Justice
= Lawfulness | (
2
)
Particular

Justice
= (2.1) Distributive Justice | = (2.2) Corrective Justice | = (2.3) Reciprocal Justice

Distributive Justice | distribution of divisible goods and benefits

Corrective Justice | correcting voluntary and involuntary wrongs

Reciprocal Justice | fair exchange of goods and services
Aristotle on Liberty

Nicomachean

Ethics
| human beings are political and social animals | they are free to pursue the good life/happiness/well-being (as an end) through reasoning and acting well (as a means)

Politics
| Liberty (= freedom) can only be preserved in the correct forms of rule (Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Polity)

The corrupted forms of rule (Tyranny, Oligarchy, and Democracy) are illiberal (= unfree) because its rulers have their own interests and NOT the common good in mind

Aristotle
against
freedom | justification of (3) forced labor/slavery and acceptance of (2) metics/resident-foreigners as non-citizens | in Aristotle's Politics,
only
(
1
)
citizens
enjoy political freedom and take turns in ruling
Aristotle on Authority

Politics
| Aristotle elaborates that either (1) one, (2) few, or (3) many can hold political authority

A clear and detailed conception in which specific institutions political authority is translated in

In Aristotle's best practicable form of rule (
Polity
), political authority is
divided
between the few rich and the many poor

Aristotle as the first empirical political theorist | he is credited with compiling more than 100 constitutions that existed during and before his lifetime of which only the
Constitution

of

Athens
survived until today
Aristotle on Democracy

Politics
| Aristotle describes democracy as mob-rule in which the many poor rule for their own benefit and rob the few rich

What we in modern times mean by democracy is referred to by Aristotle as
Polity

The Polity is the
best

practicable
form of rule where the many (consisting of the few rich and the many poor) rule for the common good and take fixed-term turns in ruling and being ruled
Aristotle on the Relationship between the Individual and the State

Human beings are
social
and
political

animals
| the city-state is their natural environment | an intimate link exists between the individual and the state

the individual can only attain the good life/happiness/well-being (= the ultimate end in life) by living in the city-state where he finds an environment to reason and act well
Machiavelli on Justice

The

Prince
| ends justify the means | a good ruler must sometimes do what is perceived as unjust to achieve his ends (= build a strong and stable principality) | the prince stands above the law | Machiavelli breaks with past views on justice | and stands in stark contrast to Aristotle's forms of particular justice

The prince has to imitate the fox and the lion which symbolize the beastly arts of force and fraud

The

Discourses
| a strong republic must be governed by good institutions and laws | this conception of justice resembles Aristotle's conception of universal justice = lawfulness

In international affairs, justice (= today we would refer to it as international law) counts little | the republic has to rise to greatness and
outpower
its unpredictable rivals
Machiavelli on Liberty

The

Prince
| the prince acts as a lawmaker | the extent of liberty which the population enjoys is a function of the prince's will

The

Discourses
| a republic can only rise to greatness (be stable and expand) if its people live in liberty

Liberty in a republic has to be defended at all costs | laws | institutions | civic virtues | eternal vigilance of the people to avoid corruption | strife between the rich and the poor short of revolution | religion | = mixed government which distributes political authority among all social classes
Machiavelli on Authority

The

Prince
| the prince enjoys absolute political authority comparable to the absolutist sovereigns of early modern times | the prince is lawmaker and ruler of the citizen army

The

Discourses
| in order for a republic to rise to greatness, political authority has to be shared among the ruler(s), the noblemen, and the people | = mixed government

Authority is bound by laws and institutions to preserve the liberty of the republic and enable it to rise to greatness
Machiavelli on Democracy

The

Prince
| Machiavelli discounts democratic principles at the
moment
in time
when
a principality or republic is
founded
| a new entity must be organized by one men

The

Discourses
| while Machiavelli does NOT use the term democracy, he envisions
at
a
later

stage
a republic with a
mixed

government
in which a broad set of
popular

controls
guarantees its liberty

a republic can only preserve its liberty and rise to greatness if elected elites are controlled by the people | popular controls ensure that elites rule for the
common

good
and not for their own interest
Machiavelli on the Relationship between the Individual and the State

The

Prince
| the rise to greatness of a principality is closely linked to the virtue of the prince

The

Discourses
| the rise to greatness of a republic is closely linked to civic virtues
BUT
also to the laws and institutions that preserve the republic's liberty and prevent its individuals from exploiting the state
Thomas Hobbes
Major Political Writings

1650 |
The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic
1642/1651 |
De Cive/Government and Society
1651/1668
| Leviathan
1655
| De Corpore
1658 | De Homine
1679
| Behemoth
(history of the English civil war)
Historical Background of Leviathan

Leviathan
is the greatest masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language

What stirs the mind of Hobbes is 'grief for the
present

calamities
of [his] country,' a country torn between those who claimed too much for
liberty
and those who claimed too much for
authority

In the late 1630s, by the approaching civil war, Hobbes joined the arguments then raging about the
rights of sovereignty
and the
duties of subjects
Purpose of
Leviathan

Hobbes sought to discover rational principles for the construction of a civil polity that would
NOT
be subject to
destruction
from within

Because virtually any government would be better than a civil war, people ought to submit themselves to an
absolute

political

authority

Hobbes' political writings were designed to support absolute government and in Hobbes' intention this meant
absolute

monarchy

He sincerely believed that monarchy was the most stable and orderly kind of government (however, his views were consistent with any
de

facto

government
)

Having lived through the period of political disintegration culminating in the English Civil War, he came to the view that the burdens of even the most oppressive government are 'scarce sensible, in respect of the miseries, and horrible calamities, that accompany a
Civill

Warre
'
A Mechanical Cause-Effect Relationship?

Hobbes aimed to demonstrate the reciprocal relationship between...

...
CAUSE
| political obedience >
EFFECT
| peace
Hobbes and the State of Nature |
Natural

Equality of Men

The condition of men living
without government
Hobbes calls state of nature, and he paints a memorably
bleak picture
of it

Men without government would all be roughly and
naturally equal
| No man is so much stronger than another by nature that he could not be killed by him by stealth

This natural equality of human capacities leads men to be suspicious of one another
Hobbes and the State of Nature |
Security

Competition among Men

Security for his life
would be the prime consideration, and each man would begin to ask himself what the conditions would be in which he would not be in constant fear for his life

It would soon occur to him that the only way he could feel would be if he could
dominate all other men
and make them fear him more than they feared each other

Domination over others would be the
ambition of all men
in the state of nature

While every men dreamt of
domination
over others
no

man
could ever achieve it because every man was roughly equal in physical strength and cunning
Hobbes and the State of Nature |
The Right of Nature

Hobbes calls the
preservation

of

life
the right of nature

Unlike the situation in an ordinary society where human behavior is reasonably predictable, nobody in the state of nature would ever know what to expect of other men, so the
right of nature
must be
unlimited
by definition
Hobbes and the State of Nature |
A

State

of

War


Hobbes calls the state of nature a state of
'war

of

all

against

all'

The question then arises as to how men managed to get themselves out of the awfulness of the state of nature into civil society with its law and its reasonable degree of social stability

Need to go back to Hobbes' rational egoists contemplating the miseries of the state of nature

Each man wished that he could dominate other men to the extent that other men would be too frightened to touch him, but each man also knew that one man could never achieve that by himself

Law
was needed to achieve that
Frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes'
Leviathan

The State of Nature as a
State of War
The Social Contract

Social contract was invented to support the case for disobedience to authority

But in
Leviathan
, Hobbes makes out a social contract case for the absolute government which social contract had been invented to undermine

Social contract theory almost always imagined what things must have been like at the beginning before civil society, that is society and the state, existed

The Rule of Law

Need to find a way to subject men to laws, the fear of punishment for breaking which would be strong enough to secure obedience, then all might be well

But men's natural diffidence in the state of nature makes it impossible that they could ever come together to make law

Two problems | (1) who would be the first to obey; (2) who would enforce the law

The way out of the difficulty is not to try to make law by agreement, but to choose a law-giver and law-enforcer by agreement
The Moment of the Social Contract

Choice of one man (or body of men), make him or them the sovereign, and authorize
all
he or they do

The choice of a law-giver and law-enforcer is the moment of contract | the sword and the crozier are placed in the sovereign's hands

Limitless Sovereignty

Sovereignty must be (1)
absolute
and (2)
undivided

Sovereign NOT a party to the social contract at all

Before Hobbes, the whole point about social contract theory was to argue that there was some kind of bargain between rulers and ruled which rulers could sometimes break and thus absolve their subjects from their obligation to obey
Deductions from Hobbes' Thought

Any distinction between society and the state is a mere confusion

Any distinction between the state and its government is a mere confusion

Any distinction between law and morals is a mere confusion

Hobbes calls his sovereign a 'mortal god' and unite in his hands both the sword and the crozier

For Hobbes, there is only the choice between (1) absolute power and (2) complete anarchy
Liberty & Equality

If men were originally free and equal, then surely they would be unwilling to give it all up when they entered civil society by voluntary contract!? | Hobbes argues the opposite

The original right of nature, by which a man may do anything which to him seems good to protect his own life, is for Hobbes not a blessing but a curse

If everyone has that same equal and unlimited liberty to do as he pleases in pursuit of the end of self-preservation, then without law every man is a menace to every other man

Hobbes | allow the maximum amount of natural liberty conceivable in the state of nature and you end up with absolute sovereignty if you think the matter out proper
Democracy

Hobbes knows his ancient political theory well enough to understand that states are either monarchies, aristocracies, or democracies

Sovereignty which is exercised by a sovereign is the same sovereignty, no matter how that sovereignty is constituted

Democratic sovereignty would have the same attributes as the sovereignty of an absolute monarch

Essential distinction | how is sovereignty (1) exercised and how is sovereignty (2) legitimized?
Limitations on Sovereignty?

What is to stop the sovereign running amok (totalitarianism) in civil society?

Leviathan
as a mortal god

Hobbes is only attacking the possibility of formal-legal, contract-type constraints on sovereignty

Efficiency of law-enforcement constrains Hobbes' sovereign
The Sovereign Remains Above the Social Contract

By choosing one man (or a body of man) to be sovereign, men make the sovereign a beneficiary of the contract, NOT a contracting party

Hobbes' social contract is an agreement between contracting parties to make one man (or group of men) sovereign

In the transition from the state of nature to civil society, everyone except the sovereign makes the transition
Sovereigns and War

Like Machiavelli, Hobbes knows that most of the sovereignties were acquired through conquest

Hobbes' sovereigns, remaining in the state of nature, are perfectly entitled to go to war with each other if they feel threatened (including preemptive strikes)

War would occur but not the whole time | every time a sovereign went to war he would risk losing his sovereignty to another sovereign| a sovereign would therefore be a fool (sovereigns sometimes make mistakes though) to risk his own sovereignty in the uncertain trial by combat
Attaining International Peace

The only way there could be a guarantee of international peace would be if all sovereigns of the earth, or an overwhelming majority of them, were voluntarily to give up the right of national self-defense to some kind of super-sovereign whose word would be law to all the nations of the earth

Hobbes likely comment on international law | covenants without the sword are but breath, without any power to bind a man at all
The Law of Nature

The
state

of

nature
has a law of nature to govern it | which obliges every one | and
reason
, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his (1) Life, (2) Health, (3) Liberty, or (4) Possessions

law of nature =
reason

reason
= refrain from harming others

law of nature = willeth the Peace and preservation of all Mankind

the great law of nature = who so sheddeth Mans Blood, by Man shall his Blood be shed

Self-Ownership

For Locke, the foundation or ground of rights is self-ownership

Human beings possess rights o life, liberty, and property as a direct consequence of the fact that they own themselves

Historical Background

The medieval tradition that reached Locke, and the constitutional ideals followed in the settlement of the
Glorious

Revolution

1688
, held that
government
...

...the king specifically but not less parliament itself and every political agency...

...is
responsible
to the people or the community which it governs
Full transcript