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Thomas Hobbes Notes

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*Cross-reference - PO201 Studying the History of Political Theory; Edmund Burke & Historical Legitimacy; Rousseau: Freedom & its
Corruption // PO219 Realism & Neorealism

Thomas Hobbes: Conflict in the State of Nature
QUESTIONS

1. Is Hobbes' account of life in the 'state of nature' convincing? [2017, 2015]
Did Hobbes rightly identify the 'state of nature' with a 'state of war'? [2013]
'Hobbes' Leviathan is deeply flawed - if the 'state of nature' is a constant state of war, it is inescapable; if it is not,
the sovereign cannot be justified'. Discuss.

2. Does Hobbes demonstrate than an absolute sovereign is necessary in Leviathan?

3. Did Hobbes succeed in demonstrating that 'concord against men is artificial'? [2014]

4. In what sense, if at all, are Hobbes' laws of nature a source of obligation? [2014]
Why does Hobbes distinguish between an obligation to the laws of nature in foro interno and an obligation in foro externo? [2015]
Do the subjects of Hobbes' Leviathan have a moral obligation to obey him? [2016]

QUOTES FROM LEVIATHAN, 1651
'The liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature... which in his own judgement, and Reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto'
'A precept or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same'.
'Covenants without the sword are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all'
'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 his right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself'
'For he that should be modest and tractable, and perform all he promises in such time and place where no man else should do so, should but make himself a prey to others, and procure his own certain ruin, contrary to the ground of all laws of nature which tend to nature's preservation'.
'Every man is his own judge and differeth from others concerning the names and appellation of things'
'In such a condition, there is no place for Industry... no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short'
'The Commonwealth may use the strength and means of them all as he shall think expedient, for their Peace and Common
Defense... is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby'.
'It is the unity of the Representer, not the unity of the Represented that maketh the Person One'
'Whereas some men have pretended for their disobedience to their sovereign a new Covenant, made not with men, but with God; this also is unjust, for there is no covenant with God but by meditation of somebody that representeth God's person, which none doth but God's lieutenant who hath the sovereignty under God'.

DEFINITIONS

Right - A 'liberty or freedom'; not in the positive sense of a right guaranteed by law, but simply the absence of a particular prohibition or impediment.
˃
Natural right (Jus Naturale) - 'The liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature... which in his own judgement, and Reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto'. This right is inherent by virtue of human nature, and universally discernible through reason.

Laws of Nature (Lex Naturalis) - 'A precept or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same'.

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