Thomas Hobbes Paper Essay, Research Paper
Thomas Hobbes Paper – What is the difference betweenobligations in foro interno and in foro externo, and when do wehave such obligations? According to Thomas Hobbes, there are certain laws of nature whichexist in the absence of an organized government. These laws are extremelycut throat, and place people in extremely dangerous situations where theirlives are in danger. Government is the answer to this dangerous situation,but it is here that the question of obligation comes into question. Doesone have an obligation to take a chance and follow the laws set forth forthem, or should they only think of themselves, and follow the laws ofnature? This is a vital question which I will explore. According to Hobbes, the overriding law of nature is kill or bekilled. Hobbes believed that, “every man has a right to everything, even toanother man’s body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of everyman to everything endureth, there can be no security to any man(how strongor wise soever he be) of living out the time which nature ordinarilyallowith men to live.” However he also believed, “that a man be willing, when others areso too as far-forth as for peace and defense of himself that he shall thinkit necessary to lay down this right to all things, and be contented with somuch liberty against other men, as he would allow other men againsthimself.” The question now is, when do we have an obligation to strivetowards peace when it means giving up our natural rights? According to Hobbes, we always have an obligation to work towardspeace, and have an obligation in foro interno, but not always in foroexterno. The difference between there two are that in foro interno meansinside you, or you believing in something. In this case, it would mean thatinside you, you would want to strive for peace because it would mean an endto worrying about your life. No longer would you have to walk around in astate of nature where any one can come and take your life. Hobbes believedthat a person always has an obligation to strive towards peace in forointerno because every man wants one thing more than any other, and that isto live. However, Hobbes did not believe that you always had an obligationto work towards peace in foro externo. The reason for this, simply put, youcan not trust other men to do the same unless you can be sure that they
will not turn on you and take your life. Hobbes felt that, “For he thatshould be modest and tractable, and preform all he promises, in such timeand place where no man else should do, should be make himself prey toothers, and procure his own certain ruin, contrary to the ground of alllaws of nature, which tend to nature’s preservation.”3 Hobbes felt that one’s obligation in foro externo ended whenfulfilling the obligation would endanger the life of the person. Every lawof nature is geared for the preservation of the life of the self, andtherefore, every man has the right to not do something should it mean thathe would have to give up his or her life. In the case of in foro externoobligation towards peace, you do not always have to do it. If you decide you are going to give up you right to everything, anddo so, but another person does not, they will most likely kill you. Therefore, before one can oblige in foro externo, there must be some sortof safeguard or higher power which will ensure that everyone will give uptheir right to everything. That is where governments come in. Their job isto make sure that when all men agree to a covenant, in which they give uptheir rights to everything, that they do not decide to break that covenantand take what they want when they want it. To make sure this breaking of the covenant does not happen,governments set up institutions such as the police to make sure everyonefollows the rules of the government. It is only then, when a person can besure that they will be protected from others, are they obliged in foroexterno to strive towards peace and give up their right to everything. Personally, I agree with what Hobbes is saying in this matter, itmakes a lot of sense even though it was written so long ago. It still hasmuch relevance today. Take for example the U.S., where most people haveobliged in foro externo to strive for peace and give up their naturalrights. This is only possible because people are not afraid (for the mostpart) that others will take advantage of the situation and take what theywant. However in other countries where this safety is not felt, there ismany instances where people take what they want, when they want it, andoften at the expense of the people who have given up their right toeverything. So as you can see, what Hobbes said so long ago, still has muchmerit today.