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Hobbes and Morality - Essay Example

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Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan is, as it was reviewed its contemporary age, a controversial and prolific treatise of the proper form of civil society and a critique of the nature of man. For Hobbes, the greatest threat to life was the conditions that were manifested in the state of nature, or the state without a social contract for civil government…
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Hobbes and Morality
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Download file to see previous pages 13, p. 84). The conditions that Hobbes outlined and feared in the state of nature had profound implications for his conceptualization of morality and what defined an individual as an equal to his or her fellow human being both in terms of morality and in rational self-interest.
The overriding principle in the state of nature is that man is inherently and perpetually condemned to a fate where his life is subject to a violent and brutish death or injury at the hands of others. Hobbes first defined man as being relatively equal in faculties to one another, in physical and mental abilities, and when there are such advantages of one holds over another in either physical strength or intellectual prowess, the threat of harm is always prevalent, so that any such advantages or disadvantages are not considerable enough to negate such threats of harm. Even if there is a more skilled warrior in the area, he or she is still subject to a violent death insomuch that others could band together to nullify such a threat (Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 82). It is because of this equal threat is how Hobbes is then able to define what his terms of morality are in the state of nature.
With an individual existing in the state of nature that is conditionally the state of war with every man against every man, and life al...
An individual has the moral authority to kill, maim or otherwise thwart another individual should they be deemed a threat to one's life and being. This also had prolific implications for actions themselves. One's actions to preserve their own well being are either amoral, or completely void of being judged right or wrong, or that such actions are morally defensible because the ultimate value and aim is that one's life ought to be defended at all costs and through any and all means disposable. Hobbes directly wrote, "to this war of every man against every man...is also consequent that nothing can be unjust," (Leviathan, ch. 13, 85).
The social contract and civil government Hobbes declared removed man from the state of nature and perpetual warfare into a civil society where the governing authority is charged with the responsibility of the preservation of domestic peace. In exchange for this protection of life, the subjects in this civil society must sacrifice their absolute freedom as they held in the state of nature in order to ensure that the war of every man against every man no longer exists. Hobbes directly argued that "a man be willing, when others are tooto lay down his rights to all things, and would be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself," (Leviathan, ch. 14, p. 87). The civil society is a voluntary contract where all citizens agree to what they are to compromise in terms of absolute freedom in order to have the right of life protected under a rule of law. Individuals are also equal in this respect that they rationally enter into such a social contract voluntarily and willing compromise whatever natural freedoms ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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