Essay Compare And Contrast Hobbes And Locke S Accounts Of The State Of Nature

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Compare and contrast Hobbes´ and Locke´s accounts of the state of nature The state of nature is the idea of a life without laws, without government and without a state. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, two of the most important philosophers of the 17th century, had different conceptions of this state. Even though both philosophers agree on the dangers within a state of nature and the equality that men had in this state, their theories differ. When it comes to the state of war, Hobbes is much more pessimistic while Locke sees potential benefits in it. Both of these aspects will be reviewed.
Dangers within a state of nature
Equality men had in this state
The laws of nature
State of war  Hobbes is pessimistic  Locke sees potential benefits in it

Both philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke agree on the dangers within a state of nature. They both identify this issue. But for Hobbes a man in a state of nature is a man in a state of war. Hobbes claims that if two men disagree with each other, they automatically become enemies and want to destroy one another. Hobbes´ says that men enter a commonwealth to exit the “miserable condition of war” (Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes, Chapter 17, Of The Causes, Generation, And Definition Of A Common-Wealth, First Paragraph). Whereas Locke recognizes this as well but says that without laws of nature, every men does whatever he wants and this will automatically lead to a state of war. They definitely both have the same opinion that the state of war exists in the state of nature, bellum omnium contra omnes, war of all against all.

From Hobbes´ point of view men are equal in body and mind and every man has a right to every thing. Men are supposed to be completely free and they have the universal right to self-preservation. His opinion on the state of nature is the state of equality between men. Locke describes the whole state of nature as a state full of equality in between the citizens. Locke´s state of nature though is not an established, settled or known law; men often ignorant the law of nature.

Locke claims that the law of nature, given from god, governs the equal rights of liberty, estate, life and property in the state of nature. Everyone is determined to preserve themselves and the rest of mankind. Furthermore, everyone has the right to punish transgressors of the law of nature. It should be a state of perfect freedom, but no license. The state of nature is in the want of a common judge with authority. Furthermore, there is no known and indifferent judge and no effective power to execute punishment. He says if men are uniting into commonwealths and are putting themselves under government, then this is what leads to the preservation of their property. They first agree to form a political community and then this community establishes a government. But the rights of the government are limited by the law of nature and by intentions of contractors. Because the laws are only designed for the good of the people and they cannot raise taxation without consent of people. It must govern by declared laws, not by arbitrary decrees because only a group of people can assign the form of the Commonwealth.

Whereas Hobbes declares that if men would “confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will…” (Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes, Chapter 17, Of The Causes, Generation, And Definition Of A Common-Wealth, 13th Paragraph) and the sovereign has exactly this power. In the sovereign there are no obligations to subjects, only laws of nature. And these laws of nature cannot be overthrown; they can do anything necessary to secure peace. The “law of nature” is a general rule by which men are forbidden to do what is destructive of their…