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

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Introduction

´╗┐BARBADOS COMMUNTIY COLLEGE DIVISION OF COMMERCE DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL STUDIES ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN ARTS GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL STUDIES GOVT 100: INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THOUGHT AND ANALYSIS Compare Hobbes and Locke?s views on the obligation to obey the law. October 15, 2012 The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is best known for his political thought, and deservedly so. His vision of the world is strikingly original and still relevant to contemporary politics. His main concern is the problem of social and political order: how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and political issue). Otherwise what awaits us is a ?state of nature? that closely resembles civil war a situation of universal insecurity, where all have reason to fear violent death and where rewarding human cooperation is all but impossible. John Locke (1632?1704) is among the most influential political philosophers of the modern period. In the Two Treatises of Government, he defended the claim that men are by nature free and equal against claims that God had made all people naturally subject to a monarch. ...read more.

Middle

We might say that as long as someone has attitudinally consented to a state (and the majority attitudinally consent to the present kind of state) then that person has consented to this kind of state and so is obligated. But how do you know whether in a given society people do attitudinally consent in the way required? You would have to be able to look into their hearts. Also, political obligation would last only as long as the attitudinal consent so would be precarious, and would not apply at all to e.g. anarchists, since they lack the necessary attitudinal consent. Yet Locke wants to demonstrate that all citizens are under a moral obligation to obey the law, not just some. (this is a fundamental problem for all consent theories, for if consent is voluntary then there must be the possibility that some will not consent, in which case those people will not be under political obligation.) So instead Locke argues that tacitly consented. Locke?s argument is effectively, that anyone who remains in the country tacitly consents (by omission) to the laws, because they have chosen not to emigrate. The standard critique of Locke?s argument: the background moral assumption in the argument is that if you consent to do something then you are under a moral obligation to do it (like a promise). ...read more.

Conclusion

Both of the two men?s philosophies included religion Hobbes and Locke both acknowledged the existence of God. Beyond this, both agreed that God played only a small part in the foundation of their philosophies. Each of these men had an impact on the world around them, and the people to come later on in the world. Hobbes influenced the people of his own time by refuting England?s parliament and France?s papal system. In the same way, Locke affected the revolutionists of the United States. Locke?s idea of a people run government held a great influence over the United States Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, and Constitution. Both philosophers impacted others, but the way in which they impacted them varied. Although these two philosophers disagreed upon certain subjects, they did occasionally agree with one another. Locke believed that government should base itself on the people, while Hobbes said that only a king should reign; yet they agreed that someone should rule over a country. Philosophically, Hobbes suggested that people needed controlling like animals in order to survive, while Locke thought that people had to experience something in order to understand it; yet again, they both believed in God, but they had little use for Him. Hobbes influenced the people in and around his time period, while Locke influenced people a few decades later but both men did influence the political and philosophical notions of their time. ...read more.

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