POL200Y5 Lecture 8: POL200 S2 L8 HOBBES

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The sovereign or sovereign power is not a party to the contract.
Imagine us in a state of nature and we want to seek peace. To seek peace we have to give up our right to
anything and everything (right of nature).
This is an agreement where we transfer our right of nature (because someone needs a right of nature to enforce
the contract) to someone (the sovereign) through the seat of government upon which the government rests.
We basically create the throne.
This someone is not a party to the contract. The transfer of our rights is us creating the power (the sovereign, the
one with legitimate power, the only one with legitimate right of nature, the monopoly of the legitimate use of
violence (the state is distinct from government)).
The sovereign then is created by combining all our rights of nature and all our power to create one power, a great
When you have a multiplicity of power you have war with one power and no combative power you get peace.
You want a single, indivisible right of nature. A single power with a single will.
The sovereign power is made up of various individuals who created one power.
The sovereign has the right of nature to do anything in its judgement to keep peace.
We leave the state of nature and instead live in a political society. The contract removes us from our natural
condition and the sovereign power always remains in the state of nature especially when it comes to international
politics (because every state deems what is right for their interests; each has the right of nature).
So all sovereign states are in a state of nature because there is no contract or agreement between them.
Now that we have the contract, there are two ways of instituting the contract and obtain sovereign power.
First is by natural force; submit or die. This is by conquest.
There is also one by agreement; the contract.
The agreement why we need government doesn't change. Whether its a contract, institution, or acquisition.
For Hobbes, it is a scientific or logical justification for sovereign power/government. However, what are the rights of
the sovereign? What does this sovereign get to do?
Now that we have transferred our rights of nature, we reduce all our wills to one will and all our judgements to one
The rights of the sovereign power is determined by this right alone. Once we have agreed to this contract,
everyone is bound, even those against it. Everyone is bound to obey because we transferred our right of nature.
All rights of the sovereign come from the institution of the sovereign.
Once instituted, the subjects have no right to change the form of government. There is no right to rebellion or
revolution. This is because we are bound by the covenant and we authorized the sovereign. So our will became the
sovereign will and all our judgements are the sovereign judgement. We authorized the judgement of sovereign and
these rights the sovereign has is our will as well. Once we enter into the contract we are permanently bounded.
There cannot be a breach of contract by the sovereign. The sovereign is not a party to the contract and is not
bound by it; so therefore they cannot breach it. You are responsible for what is done. If this submission can
become an evil, its still a lesser evil then the state of nature; therefore it is better to have an evil government.
The minority that did not consent to the sovereign now must consent to the sovereign authority. You cant have
people saying they're not a part of the sovereign. You can rebel but there is no outside society so then you will
only be a part of the state of nature which the sovereign is also a part of so therefore you will be going against
the government which is unsafe for you.
Since everyone is author of all actions and judgements of sovereign, whatever the sovereign does cannot be
considered unjust; it does everything with authority.
The sovereign cannot be punished by the subjects because the subjects cannot punish someone else for what they
have authorized. When you have that right of nature then you cant be considered unjust because you do what you
deem necessary; this follows suit with the sovereign.
All opinions and doctrines (especially religious doctrine) are subject to censorship and restraint from the sovereign.
They do what is necessary to maintain peace. Arastianism: religion must be subordinate to the state because you
cant have two powers because peace will not be obtained and conflict will occur.
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