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The state of nature is the idea of life
without a government, state or laws. Why
we should live under the rule of law and
why should we accept this?
Based on the S.o.N, philosophers argued
that the state is based on an agreement
between the people to live under laws.
Imagine if humans have never lived
without group rules and a leader to
enforce them. Is it beneficial and should
we accept it?
Philosophers object, as not only are we
imagining something false, but something
against human nature; we naturally live
together under laws.
Hobbes believes that it is possible to
imagine people as individuals prior to
social interaction. However to survive we
are born into social groups.
Perhaps the state will develop naturally,
not through consent.…read more

Slide 3

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Thomas Hobbes argued that to understand
political society we need to understand it
components; people. It is easier to
understand humans in their simplest forms
by imagining them in a state of nature.
"Self-preservation" is our most fundamental
desire; there is no law to overrule our acting
on this desire.
However our 2nd "natural right" conflicts with
others natural right. For example, if I have
the right to life, everyone has the duty not to
kill me and if I have the right to what I own,
everyone has the duty not to steal from me.
But each individual would judge what their
rights are differently; so an individuals right
to self ­ preservation conflicts with everyone
Each person must eventually rely on
themselves (on their strength and
intelligence). Which will lead to a "State of
War" as people will live in a state of
"continuall feare, and danger of violent
death".…read more

Slide 4

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Hobbes justifies his conclusion of Self-
preservation to a "State of War" by claiming that it
lies in human psychology and the conditions of
the S.o.N.
We desire `power'; is to now possess the means
to get want you want in the future. For example, if
people like us or if they are afraid of us, then they
may give us what we want.
Our desires are never-ending, once we have
fulfilled one desire there will be another.
In the S.o.N we are theoretically equal; no one
can dominate others & overpower all resistance.
Not everyone can have everything they want
(especially if this includes power to get what they
want in the future).
We are vulnerable; other people can cause us to
fail to achieve the power we need to satisfy our
We might not be inclined to attack other people,
but we know that some of them may attack us.
We will fight for gain (to get what we need), will
will fight for security (to get what we want in the
future) and we will fight for `glory' ­ the reputation…read more

Slide 5

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John Locke agrees with Hobbes that the
S.o.N is a state of perfect freedom and
Locke argues for a moral interpretation of
each term. Equality means no one has
the right to hold power over anyone else.
The L.o.N says that no person may
subordinate another, harm his life, health,
liberty or possessions (except in self -
defence), and that we should help each
other ­ then this does not harm
However laws are usually made by the
state and there is no state in the state of
nature. Locke argues that the L.o.N
comes from God; but if one does not
believe in God then Locke argues that it
can be discovered through reason.…read more

Slide 6

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John Locke agrees with Hobbes that the S.o.N is a
state of perfect freedom and equality; however Locke's
understanding of these terms are different from
Locke argues for a moral interpretation of each term.
Equality means no one has the right to hold power
over anyone else ­ however Hobbes believes equality
is about our ability to gain power.
While we have the right to Self ­ preservation there are
limitations on what we can do; given by what Locke
calls the Laws of Nature.
Hobbes argues that we need power and we act out of
fear created by the conditions of the S.o.N; even if we
should obey the L.o.N, we won't.
Locke disagrees with Hobbes about scarcity (one of
the conditions that leads to war). In the S.o.N there is
plenty of land for each person, which they can cultivate
to provide themselves with food and shelter. Most
people would prefer to do this than steal or attack; so it
is possible to live together peacefully. As long as there
is enough land for people, then taking land for
ourselves is no violation of the L.o.N.…read more

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