• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast some of the ways in which major political thinkers have tried to draw the differences between authority of the state and freedom of the individuals.

Extracts from this document...


Question.1: Compare and contrast some of the ways in which major political thinkers have tried to draw the differences between authority of the state and freedom of the individuals. A state is an ancient political institution whose role is to regulate human relations in the society living under its laws. The state is the supreme law making (legislative) and law enforcing body, deriving its acknowledgement as a sovereign institution.' State sovereignty ' emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries used by Bodin and Hobbes to mean the state has supreme authority and power over all other social institution like families, associations, union or educational bodies. Freedom (right) is the ability of individuals to do whatever they want to without being limited. There are a number of political thinkers who by their arguments tried to draw the boundaries between authority of the state and freedom of individuals. This essay with reference to the question provided will only focus on Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau. It will be structured in a way that will give the three theorists' arguments then latter compare and contrast their arguments in respect of; * State * Human nature * Social Contract * Individual As follows below; THOMAS HOBBES Thomas Hobbes a staunch royalist born in1588 lived mostly with noblemen; it is no wonder he became a friend and amanuensis of Francis Baconi. Due to the English civil war he spent a lot of time in exile. ...read more.


It is due that situation that Locke argued for the need of the political authority to ensure orderly and lawful process that could not be achieved in the state of nature (similar to Hobbes'). But Locke puts it categorically clear that individuals should be prepared before they entrust their liberty to the body (government) so that they willingly more so on majority basis (social contract) and thus the entrusted government should only work for the interest of the citizens that is to say executing their rights of nature as was enjoyed before the formation of civil government. According to Locke the civil state's (political government) authority is subject to the conditions of the trust and that individuals are only obliged to obey the state when it (state) fulfils its contractual conditions as evidenced by 1'.... The authority and power of government is limited by its central under lying purpose - to respect and defend the natural rights of the individual. (such that) ...... if government fails to discharge its responsibilities to its subjects, or abuse those powers in an oppressive or tyrannical manner, or rules without obtaining the consent of the governed, then under all those circumstances the individuals who form civil society may exercise their right of rebellion ...' In other wards to Locke individuals should not be ruled with out consent that is the state has no absolute authority. JEAN- JACQUES ROUSSEAU Rousseau born 1712 in Calvinist Geneva and was destined for the life of an artist. ...read more.


Rousseau on the other hand, emphasizes the general will, to him it's every right, which practically may not be the case because different perceptions of self-interests or groups can occur. So it is quite irrational to strike a balance between the parties involved. Human nature, to Hobbes is egotistic and selfish, in other words self-seeking, to Locke; human nature is rational and moral. In fact to him in the state of nature, men did not live in fear because they treated each other freely and independently, so is Rousseau's argument (human nature-rational). However, Rousseau in the general will ignored the fact that different opinions (interest) exist, that may lead to self-seeking behaviour just like Hobbes. And indeed this is true human nature is selfish. Individuals are possessive (unrestricted pursuit of human goods) implying that their rights are unlimited. So to avoid collision of rights, the civil society is established in which, the civil law will apply. Meaning that freedom will lie in their obedience of the law while the state authority is granted by individuals' consent thus transferring their rights and power . In conclusion, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau draw the boundary between the state authority and individual freedom, basing on the concept of social contract through which the civil state is established. More so is what (social contract) entrusts the authority to the governed. Individuals who are also obliged to obey the state because they gave it their rights and power for it to offer security. Therefore, individual freedom lies in heir obedience to the civil government. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Compare the views about the nature and development of Carl Rogers and George Kelly. ...

    It can be assumed that Rogers' belief of humans as basically good with an innate tendency towards self actualisation, can be described as only hopeful thinking (Winter, 1996). Another negative aspect to Rogers' theory is that certain characteristics of personality have been ignored, which could pose a problem to this particular client (Maddi, 1996).

  2. How and why does Locke explain the creation, value and protection of property?

    it the "labour put a distinction between them and common" (Locke, 1688 p. 251). By causing a change in the land with our property we take it out of "the hands of nature" (Locke, 1688 p. 252) and make it our own.

  1. Notes on John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

    (The government might reasonably try to convince me that what I am doing is a mistake by means of advertising and education, but this is very different from government compulsion.) So, I should be trusted to judge when it is reasonable to wear a seat belt because I am the one in a position to best make that judgment.

  2. Power and Politics in Organizations: Public and Private Sector Comparisons

    Ability to mobilize support Diplomacy, skill at negotiation, willingness to compromise, and due care for the interests of minorities may not be enough, however. Leaders must also be adept at mobilizing support, outside as well as inside the organization. In the political realm, this quality is considered the sine qua non of effective leadership.

  1. How have political sociologist understood globalization? Globalization is perhaps the central concept of ...

    It engages in the concept of crystallization of four main components of the "global-human circumstance": societies (or nation-states), the system of societies, individuals (selves), and humankind; this takes the form of processes of, respectively, societalization, internationalization, individuation, and generalization of consciousness about humankind (Robertson 1991: 215-6; 1992: 27).

  2. Marxism - political theory

    Workers are alienated from their human potential, as the transformative potential of labor is lost under capitalism. The Structures of Capitalist Society Marx wrote in response to the rapid changes taking place in Europe in response to industrialization, particularly in Germany.

  1. Extent of key political ideas in directly influencing change and development .

    But it is hard to envisage Mussolini's success without it. Similarly important was the sense of aggrieved nationalism in Italy, which Mussolini insisted he alone could redress. Thirdly, the economic problems of the Italian State were of major importance. Not only were inflation and unemployment, problems in themselves, but they exacerbated Italian's perceptions of the communist threat.

  2. Compare Hobbes and Locke's views on the obligation to obey the law.

    (2) support your state in other ways. For example, by enlisting to fight when there is a voluntary conscription. Here I shall focus on (1). (some have also interpreted ?political obligation? to mean ?a moral obligation to be political, to engage in the political realm in some way, not necessarily to support one?s own country e.g.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work