The aim of the present essay is to compare and contrast the political philosophy of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, eminent thinkers whose ideas defined the further development of early modern political thought. The comparison between their theories will be made through detailed expositions of their general arguments and contrast between them…
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Lockean political philosophy In his Essays on the Law of Nature, which he composed in 1663-1664, Locke concentrated on the duty of men to serve the others both for God’s rewards and terrestrial happiness. Locke argued that all men were basically united in friendship and had a duty of ‘liberality’ to each other . Locke specifically lambasted a notion of ‘every man’s own interest’ as the basis for natural law, claiming that pursuit of private advantage alone could not provide a lasting basis for society’s unity . In Essays Locke observed that “the inheritance of the whole of the mankind is always one and the same” , decrying fraud and competition over the necessarily limited natural riches as the original basis of all social ills. At the same time, Locke directly tied service to society and obedience to natural law with the security of property, maintaining that it was this obedience, rather than arbitrary egoism, that created solid basics for property preservation.
In Essays Locke for the first time came to conclusion that rights of property are predicated upon natural law, even though he still did not explain the mechanism of their formation. Other themes of Essays which were later continued in Locke’s mature writings included the notion of purposeful creativity of human beings, with a presumption that God created men to engage in productive labor, rather than pursuing idleness.5. Locke also noted that society was formed out of “pressing needs” of men and that “inward instinct” of human beings made them seek their self-preservation, so that self-preservation became an innate obligation6. The Lockean political theory was eventually laid down in Two Treatises on Government, written in the 1680s with an aim to refuting the arguments of supporters of divine right of the kings. The First Treatise presents a comprehensive rebuttal of absolutists’ argument by setting out logical limits to the powers of royal authority, recognizing the right of political community to evaluate whether the sovereign transgresses his powers. Here the problem of property is also decisively dealt with, which played important part in development of liberal doctrine. According to Locke, the application of labor distinguishes private from communal property. Locke believed that product of labor constitutes the inherent property of the laborer, and that in applying his labor to the natural reaches, whether by hunting, gathering or agriculture, the right of man to the product of his labor is acquired. The necessity of individual labor thus leads inescapably to the formation of “private possessions”7. According to Locke, even though God gave the Earth to men “for their benefit, and the greatest conveniences of life they were capable to draw from it”8, men are obliged to use natural reaches and land itself in a rational manner, and those whom Locke termed “the industrious and rational” fulfill this duty much better than “the quarrelsome and contentious”, which means that the former are provided with greater share in initially communal property than the latter9. The industrious and rational are at the same time obliged not to waste land and its resources, and should avoid arbitrary use of their riches. Therefore, the right to
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