Natural Rights Theory According To Burke And

СОДЕРЖАНИЕ: Marx Essay, Research Paper Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, claims that peace and unity can best be achieved by setting up a society by having humans agree to a covenant (Hobbes: Ch.18 pg.548). A sovereign who is in charge of protecting the society or state rules Hobbes?s society. In his introduction, Hobbes describes this commonwealth as an “artificial person” and as a body politic that mimics the human body.

Marx Essay, Research Paper

Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, claims that peace and unity can best be achieved by setting up a society by having humans agree to a covenant (Hobbes: Ch.18 pg.548). A sovereign who is in charge of protecting the society or state rules Hobbes?s society. In his introduction, Hobbes describes this commonwealth as an “artificial person” and as a body politic that mimics the human body. Hobbes portrays the state as a gigantic human form built out of the bodies of its members, the sovereign as its head (Hobbes: Introduction pg.492). Hobbes calls this figure the “Leviathan,” which means “sea monster” in Hebrew and is the name of a monstrous sea creature appearing in the Bible. Hobbes tries to prove that a sovereign is necessary for preserving peace.

John Locke, author of Second Treatise of Government, places sovereignty into the hands of the people. Locke claims that people are equal and has natural rights in a state of nature where they are free from outside rule. In the state of nature, people have the right to judge someone and execute the law against someone who violates their rights. People take what they need from the earth but usually take more than they need. Then they develop a common currency in order to trade their extra goods.

Hobbes claims that everyone is equal (Hobbes: Ch.13 pg. 531), everyone should fight for self-preservation (Hobbes: Ch.14 pg. 533), and everyone has to give up some rights to be able to enter a society (Hobbes: Ch.17 pg.547-548). Locke claims that everyone is equal (Locke: Ch.2 ?4 pg.626), everyone has the right to self-preservation, everyone has the right to punish (Locke: Ch.2 ?8 pg.627), and everyone has to make a contract or promise before entering a society (Locke: Ch.8 ?95 pg. 650).

Hobbes claims that freedom is the lack of impediments . There are two types of freedom: positive and negative. Positive freedom is the ability to do what you want to do and what you should do without any restrictions. Negative freedom is the ability to do what you want to do but with consequences. According to Hobbes, natural rights include the right of self-preservation, equality, and the ability to punish.

Hobbes defines natural rights with three natural laws. He claims that natural law is used so that people know what to do so that they do not compromise their own reason. Hobbes does not believe that divinity has anything to do with natural law or rights. The first natural law (Hobbes: Ch.14 pg. 534) is that everyone should be peaceful but if one has to go into war to get peace then they should go into war. The second natural law (Hobbes: Ch.14 pg. 534) is derived from the first natural law. It states that a human has the right to self-preservation by defending oneself even if it means going to war. As long as humans are protecting themselves and as all as they want to attain new things, they will always be in a state of competition or war. The third natural law (Hobbes: Ch.15 pg.538) is that humans must obey agreements or covenants. If a person is to break a law then that is considered unjust. According to Hobbes people keeping agreements defines justice (Ch.15 pg.538). If justice cannot be kept in state of nature then no justice will be found.

People would join together in a society and be willing to give up some rights in order to have security (Hobbes: Ch.17 pg. 546). Hobbes believes that people have to exchange some of their natural rights in order to enter into a society with other people. People give up there right to sovereignty (Hobbes: Ch.17 pg.548). Once they enter the society they are protected by common laws and a common executive power (Hobbes: Ch.17 pg.548), which enforces the laws.

According to John Locke, human beings all have the same natural rights; all people are equal in nature (Locke: Ch.2 ?4 pg.626). Everyone has the right to self-preservation. People know they have that right by using reason and listen to God?s revelation. People have the right to judge and punish people (Locke: Ch.2 ?8 pg.627). Locke claims that nobody has the right to destroy oneself (Locke: Ch.2 ?7 pg.627). It is possible to have natural rights before people enter a society.

Before a political society is formed among human beings, a promise or covenant is made and they will have to keep it (Locke: Ch.8 ?95 pg. 650). People enter a society out of need and convenience (Locke: Ch.7 ?77 pg.645). The join a society because they want common law that will help with the preservation of their life, the lives of ours, their freedom, and their property (Locke: Ch.9 ?123 pg. 657-658). The rule of a sovereign over a state is different from the rule of a man in a house in that the sovereign?s rule involves capital punishment and the making of laws (Locke: Ch.7 ?88 pg.647). The political society is created in order to set down laws and punishments, and also to protect its members. People exchange some of their natural rights to enter into a society with other people, and be protected by common laws and a sovereign. People give up there own sovereignty to join together as one body under one leader (Locke: Ch.7 ?89 pg. 647-648). They also give up the right to judge and punish others (Locke: Ch.9 ?130 pg. 658). The sovereign has to protect the society?s life, liberty, and property (Locke: Ch9 ?131 pg. 659).

Locke and Hobbes differ on a couple of points concerning natural rights and the society, According to Locke a person has no right to destroy oneself but if the person?s life is threaten then the person has the right to judge and punish the other. Hobbes claims that punishment is allowable in a society and in nature for those who have violated a law. Hobbes believes that natural rights/laws have nothing to do with divinity just reason. On the other hand, according to Locke natural rights have to do with some reason and with God?s revelation (Locke: Ch.2 ?8 pg. 627).

In Hobbes? society the legislative branch is the most important because it is the branch that makes the laws. The state?s job is to make and enforce laws. Locke and Hobbes are similar in that they claim that a society has to make commons laws and enforce but Locke?s society has to protect the three most important natural rights of the members of that society: life, liberty, and property. Locke?s state allows the people to overthrown the government if it ceases to protect the people (Locke: Ch.19 ?211 pg. 680). Unlike Hobbes claims that the government cannot be overthrown because people would not want to return to a state of nature. Locke differs from Hobbes in that Locke believes that God is a factor in politics. He believes that individuals were born with certain natural rights given not by government or society, but by God.

Hobbes and Locke each developed differing versions of the social contract. Hobbes?s perception of the original state of nature is what would exist if there were no common power to execute and enforce the laws to restrain individuals. In this case, the laws of the jungle would prevail where only the fittest survive. Man?s desires are insatiable. Since resources are scarce, humankind is naturally competitive, inevitably creating jealousy and hatred, which eventually leads to war. This constant state of war is what Hobbes? believes to be man?s original state of nature. According to Hobbes, man cannot be trusted in the state of nature. Limits must be put on freedom and inalienable rights. Hobbes believed that by creating a state there would be an end to war. On the other hand, John Locke believes the original state of nature is a state of perfect freedom where men do whatever it is in their will and ability to accomplish. Every man has the liberty to arrange his life in the manner he chooses, however no man has the liberty to kill himself. Unlike Hobbes? nature of constant war, Locke?s state of nature is peaceful, based on the fact that men do not want to risk their lives by constantly fighting. Man, according to Locke, is governed by reason in the state of nature. Stability was the central assumption of his thinking. Hobbes reasoning was from the assumption that man was naturally vicious or wicked, while Locke was more optimistic about man?s nature and reasoning. Preservation of mankind is the law of nature established by Hobbes, and Locke. In order to abide by this law, people enter into an agreement, forming the social contract. It is an agreement by which people are said to have abandoned the state of nature in order to form a society. Hobbes believes that people surrender their natural rights and submit to the absolute authority of a sovereign, who attained power through the collective submission of the people. Even though the power of the sovereign is accumulated from the people, the sovereign has absolute power. According to Locke a government where the power is limited and used to secure individual rights is necessary. The people run the government. Locke is opposed to Hobbes? view of royal absolutism. Locke believes people should make a social contract in order to preserve their natural rights, including that of property.

A government is formed with the basic purpose to serve the rights of the common good of the people. Locke justifies overthrowing the government if the government is not protecting the rights of the subjects. The job of the legislature is to represent the will of the majority. If the rights of the people are not protected, the legislature is not representing the will of the majority and should be replaced. According to Hobbes, continual war is inevitable if there is no government. Since individuals in the state of nature do what is in their best self-interest, at one point they decided to voluntarily and mutually transfer their rights to a sovereign in an attempt to get out of the miserable, constant state of war. Hobbes interpreted government to be a single governing body, made up of the power of the masses. Hobbes contends that if there is no power to keep people in fear, they will continually be in war against each other. For this reason, the power of the sovereign must be absolute.

Hobbes and Locke constructed their own versions on what kind of government should prevail within a society in order for it to function properly. They agree that before people came to govern themselves, they all existed in a state of nature, which lacked society and structure. The two philosophers developed differing versions of the social contract, but all agreed that certain freedoms had been surrendered in order to improve the way of life.


Morgan, Michael L, ed. Classics Of Moral And Political Theory. 3rd Ed. Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, 2001.



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