Compare Hobbes and Locke on the foundation of social contract? I need to write a long essay on this subject.
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and John Locke (1632–1704) were two influential English philosophers. The concept of the social contract was crucial to both men's political philosophy. They both strongly rejected the divine right of kings theory, but their ideas about the foundation of the social contract were very different. Although both men had a profound and lasting impact on political thought, Locke's ideas had a much greater impact on the American and French Revolutions of the late-eighteenth century.
Hobbes's political thought was heavily influenced by the English Civil War (1642–1651). A peaceful and cautious man, Hobbes loathed the violence of that conflict and the subsequent execution of King Charles I. He desperately wanted England to avoid another disastrous civil war in the future. A strong government is essential. Without government, people live in a state of nature characterized by chaos and bloodshed. Hobbes wrote that the life in the state of nature was "nasty, brutish, and short."
In other words, he believed people were naturally avaricious and violent. People need to be assured of their personal safety above all else, Hobbes thought. Therefore, the people should agree to forfeit their freedoms in exchange for this safety. They must obey imperfect and even wicked rulers: revolutions are only justified if the monarch tries to kill his subjects.
Locke expected much more of kings, and he had a a more positive view of human beings in the state of nature. According to him, monarchs had to do much more than merely provide personal safety: they also had to be just. Men had "natural rights" that the monarch had to respect. (For example, people had a right to private property.) A monarch who failed to respect those rights should be overthrown.
Some of Locke's ideas appear in America's Declaration of Independence: "all men are created equal." Also, men had a right to life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." In other words, the American colonists had the right to declare independence because Britain's King George III was denying them their natural rights.
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