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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Hobbes II

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Political Science
Sophie Bourgault

March 3, 2014 HOBBES Essential readings: Ch. 4 (Boetie on language), 8, 10, 13-15, 17-19, 21 “Powers divided mutually destroy each other” (p. 214) “The power of the mighty has no foundation but in the opinion and belief of the people.” -Hobbes, Behemoth, Leviathan ch. 30 “Hobbes was the true founding father of liberalism.” -Leo Strauss • Conflict/factions (p. 154) • dangerous books (p. 215) • vain-glory as source of conflict (p. 194) I- Why do we need the sword to live in peace? (human nature) • P. 106 – the laws of nature of themselves, without the terror of some power for them to be observed, our contrary to our natural passions. • Coercive power = SWORD • Covenants without coercive power are useless • Why do we need the sword? We are not privately interested in the public interest: 1) We all want respect (we envy one another), we are proud and self-interested creatures. 2) What we want as private individuals (eminence) tends to go against the public interest of all. We need coercion to care for the public interest. • 3) It’s impossible for statesmen to rule… • 4) Speech • Politics – with speech, very eloquent men can present ideas in such a way that we will be motivated to take up arms against the existing regime. • When men are too idle, trouble begins (Machiavelli) • Human beings are naturally selfish and anti-social • P. 109 – create the commonwealth by way of a covenant – we ought to confer all our powers and strength upon 1 man or upon 1 assembly of men. The commonwealth is 1 great body • Every one of us will be the author of this objective – by this contract we will authorize the sovereign to act on our behalf – do everything necessary to ensure public security and peace. • If all of us are bound by this contract, the sovereign is not. • I give up my right to the sovereign • Submit will and judgment to the sovereign • 2 ways to create a commonwealth 1) voluntarily – commonwealth by institution 2) • Legal and political consequences; we are all bound to obey • The legitimacy of a regime comes down to (not how a regime is instituted) how the government provides security and peace • Where safety ends; you are only obliged to obey as long as the sovereign protects you II- The right of the sovereign (ch. 17) Ch. 18 –Absolutism defended • The political consequences of the commonwealth • Good science is about the knowledge of consequences • The covenant takes place between every man • The sovereign is not part of the covenant - significant because you cannot blame the sovereign for breaking the covenant (injustice) • 4) Ch. 16 - we are all the authors of all the actions and judgments of the sovereign because we authorized him in the beginning – you cannot complain of injury caused by your own self. • The rights of the sovereign extends to appointing positions and rewards • All legislative and judicial power • Judge of doctrines and opinions that are delivered to citizens • No doctrines hostile to peace are tolerated • All these rights are inseparable and incommunicable; all power concentrated in one place • Concentrating power is a small price to pay in exchange for conflict and corruption (civil war) • There’s no greater power on earth than the commonwealth • There is some incommodity with this system, but the estate of man can never be without some incommodity. • The worst possible incommodity would be a civil war • Abit of abuse is better than blood and violence • P. 118 – sovereign have an interest in keeping their subjects happy – not in their interest not to • Relationships between states III - The best regime (ch. 19) *the advantages of monarchies • Ch. 19 – old question of political theory – what is the best regime? • There is no such thing as a best regime because any regime is better than none • Any regime will do as long as sovereignty is undivided; concentrated in one place • As long as it provides peace and order • P. 18 – challenges the old distinction between good and bad regimes (Machiavelli) • Tyranny and oligarchy – at the end of the day, they’re just words used by grumpy people who are ruled by regimes they don’t like. • Hobbes dismisses the distinction between monarchy and tyranny – just a monarchy that is disliked • Monarchy is most often disliked by the ambitious – tend to deprived the ambitious the opportunity to shine • Your desire for power manifesting itself • UnlikeAristotle, Hobbes is not convinced that there is a link between he regime type and the virtue of citizens. Uninterested in the moral or
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