In the theory of the liberal stateit is often said that citizens concede to the state a monopoly on the use of force. This is certainly true in a particular way, but it is actually not generally true, and the impression of general truth that the statement makes leads to false and dangerous implications. The state is never conceded a real monopoly of force because every citizen retains a default right of self-defense.
Kraynak, Colgate University For many centuries, natural law was recognized as a type of higher law that spelled out universal truths for the moral ordering of society based on a rational understanding of human nature.
As a higher moral law, it gave citizens a standard for determining if the written laws and customs of their nation or any other nation were just or unjust, right or wrong, humane or inhumane. Today, natural law is not discussed very much, at least not explicitly.
This negative view of natural law can be traced to Thomas Hobbes —whose writings are largely devoted to showing the anarchy and civil wars caused by appeals to natural and divine laws above the will of the sovereign.
Hobbes rejected traditional higher law doctrines and encouraged people to accept the established laws and customs of their nations, even if they seemed oppressive, for the sake of civil peace and security. His critique has been a leading cause of the demise of natural law and the acceptance of positive law as the only reliable guide Hobbes hume and human nature political authority.
One may be equally surprised to learn, however, that many people today embrace a different and seemingly contradictory view of natural law, and this too is traceable to Thomas Hobbes.
The protesters usually deny that they are following natural law, but they obviously are asserting a belief in universal moral truths that are grounded in human nature—in this case, the natural equality of human beings that underlies human rights. How is it possible for Hobbes and his followers to embrace seemingly contradictory views of natural law, rejecting one form as intolerant, self-righteous, and anarchical, while embracing another form as the universal ideal of social justice?
Let us turn to Hobbes for an answer to this puzzle, and, in so doing, uncover the sources of our modern conceptions of law, rights, and justice. Felicity is a continual progress of the desire, from one object to another. According to the classical view, man is a rational and social animal who has a natural inclination to his proper end, happiness, which can be attained by the virtues or the perfections of mind and character.
Hobbes rejects the teleological view of human nature as a false and dangerous illusion. Instead, he sees human nature as the restless striving for power after power that has no end and therefore no happiness or perfection. One argument that Hobbes uses to justify the rejection of natural teleology is metaphysical: This view is developed in Leviathan, Part I, which gives the materialist account of man as a creature of appetites and aversions: The materialist account supports the view that no natural end for man really exists, only the ceaseless motion of a complex machine.
The materialist account also strengthens the case against the Aristotelian-Thomistic view of man as a rational and social animal naturally suited by language and friendship to live in a political community.
The mechanical model of man, however, is not sufficient to refute classical natural law. In historical writings, Hobbes shows how the passion of vanity has undermined traditional political authority where kings have relied on higher law to gain obedience from the people.
The defect of this arrangement is that traditional higher law doctrines are easily exploited by vain and ambitious men who claim superiority to the sovereign because of privileged knowledge of divine, natural, and common law.
King Charles I was overthrown by Puritan clergymen, democratic Parliamentarians, and lawyers of the common law who sought recognition for their superior knowledge of higher law, yet who could not agree among themselves about whose doctrine was right, producing sectarian wars that reduced English society to the anarchic state of nature.
For though they that speak of this subject used to confound jus and lex right and lawyet they ought to be distinguished, because Right consists in liberty to do or forbear, whereas Law binds to one of them; so that law and right differ as much as obligation and liberty.
Hobbes acknowledges that these moral attitudes are social virtues, but they are aimed at the minimal good of civil peace rather than the perfection of mind and character; they also make obedience to positive law the primary duty of natural law, removing any pretext for rebellion in the name of higher law.
Yet, once the shift to limiting the scope of government to the security of rights was widely accepted, a movement away from the absolute monarchy favored by Hobbes to the constitutionally limited government favored by LockeHume, Montesquieuand the Federalist was the logical outcome of the Hobbesian revolution from classical natural law to modern natural rights.
Cornell University Press,32—Hobbes, Hume and Human Nature The essence of human nature has been questioned time and time again throughout history. Because of this uncertainty many have theorized about what the essence or driving force might be. Footnotes.
1. In the lectures of and Berkeley was passed over by Hegel; in both courses Hume follows directly after the Scottish and French philosophers, and thus comes immediately before Kant; in the course of the French philosophy precedes the Scottish also.
A selection of philosophy texts by philosophers of the early modern period, prepared with a view to making them easier to read while leaving intact the main arguments, doctrines, and lines of thought.
Texts include the writings of Hume, Descartes, Bacon, Berkeley, Newton, Locke, Mill, Edwards, Kant, Leibniz, Malebranche, Spinoza, Hobbes, and Reid. In contrast to Rousseau, David Hume was a critic of the oversimplifying and systematic approach of Hobbes, Rousseau, and some others whereby, for example, all human nature is assumed to be driven by variations of selfishness.
Psychological Egoism. Psychological egoism is the thesis that we are always deep down motivated by what we perceive to be in our own self-interest.
Psychological altruism, on the other hand, is the view that sometimes we can have ultimately altruistic motives. Suppose, for example, that Pam saves Jim from a burning office building.
What ultimately motivated her to do this? Print PDF. THOMAS HOBBES: FROM CLASSICAL NATURAL LAW to MODERN NATURAL RIGHTS Robert P. Kraynak, Colgate University.
For many centuries, natural law was recognized as a type of higher law that spelled out universal truths for the moral ordering of society based on a rational understanding of human nature.