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Thomas Hobbes’ Beliefs

by Expert Dr Josephine | 23 May 2017

Thomas Hobbes believes that “rational, self-interested individuals” will be willing to transfer some of their liberties to a common power because of the presence of “social contract” (Bennagen, 2000). Technically, the “social contract” is an “agreement or covenant among men that they will transfer their natural right to preserve themselves to some sovereign entity” (Bennagen, 2000). “Rational, self-interested individuals” will be willing to transfer some of their liberties to a common power because of the “social contract’s characteristics” (Bennagen, 2000).

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These include the following:

First of all, it is voluntary (Bennagen, 2000). Thomas Hobbes believe that since men are rational, they will come to their senses and recognize that it is required to be in agreement with one another voluntarily for the purpose of achieving their objective of “self-preservation” (Bennagen, 2000).

Second, it entails a mutual transferring of rights (Bennagen, 2000). This means that “if I decide to give up my rights to self-governance, you must also do the same” (Bennagen, 2000).

Third, the contract is “an agreement among the subjects themselves and does not involve the sovereign power, therefore, the sovereign is not a party to the contract” (Zagorin, 1968). This is the reason why the sovereign does not have any responsibility to the subject that he or she governs (Zagorin, 1968). It is the subjects who have the responsibility and this entails obeying the sovereign (Zagorin, 1968).

Last but not least, “it is said that the institution of the political association or the commonwealth does not have to be unanimously agreed upon because the majority has the right to determine the form of government” (Frost, 1962).

This is the reason why the “social contract does not have to be based on unanimity; meaning the majority rules” (Frost, 1962).

References

  • Bennagen, P. (2000). Social, Economic, and Political Thought. QC: UP Press.
  • Frost, S.E. (1962). Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers. NY: Anchor Books.
  • Zagorin, P. (1968). Thomas Hobbes. NY: The Macmillan Company and Free Press.
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