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Hobbes’ Political Philosophy

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Essay title: Hobbes’ Political Philosophy

Hobbes argues that the state of nature is a state of perpetual war of all against all and consequently, the life of man in the state of nature "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" (xiii, 9). In this paper I will explain Hobbes' arguments that support his claim to the state of nature. I will also assess these arguments and state that they are not valid and, therefore, not sound. I will then talk about the most controversial premise, relative scarcity of goods, and how Hobbes would respond to the objections of this premise. I will then talk about his response to this objection being unsuccessful. Finally, I will assess whether it will be possible to leave the state of nature given the factors Hobbes describes that create the state of nature. I will show that Hobbes' argument on how men will leave the state of nature is a valid and sound argument.

According to Hobbes this war of "all against all" comes from three key points. First, Hobbes states that there is a rough equality among men. Hobbes means by equality of men, that one man is not strong or intelligent enough that he can overpower two men. Secondly, because of this equality between men, if there is competition for the same goods, men will begin to distrust each other. Lastly, Hobbes states that because of this mistrust there is a cascade effect. The anticipation of one man being attacked causes them to attack the other because they consider it a better option to attack, rather than wait and be attacked. According to Hobbes this leads to a war of all against all.

This is an invalid argument and therefore unsound. I will show that this argument is invalid by showing that because of the equality of men there is a fear among men. The premise dealing with the equality of men makes this argument invalid because if all men were considered equal, then men would be in constant fear of one another. This is due to the lack of ability to overpower each other. They would be unwilling to attack each other because there is no assurance that they would win because of this.

The most controversial premise is the one dealing with the competition between goods. The scarcity of goods does not necessarily have to lead to a competition amongst the goods. An example of this is the Native Americans. They could be considered to have lived in the state of nature, but they did not live in a state of a war of all against all as described by Hobbes. Some tribes had goods that other tribes did not have and vice versa. The tribes realized this and traded their own goods with each other.

Hobbes might respond to this objection by saying that this is an invalid argument because it is relying on the premise that everyone is going to keep to their covenants in the state of nature. If people behave rationally and act on their own self-interest it would make sense that people would break their covenants after the other party has completed their side. They would break them because they would have more to gain

This response would not be adequate because Hobbes also states in Leviathan, that if one side completes their part of the covenant then the other side should keep their part, even in the state of nature. If one were to not keep their covenant, then they may not be trusted to keep covenants by another group because of their previous breaking of covenants.

Hobbes' description of the state of nature as a state of a constant war of all against all is that it is not a literal state of every man against every man but more like a war of several

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