POL200Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Toleration, Thomas Erastus

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23 Mar 2017
Lecture: Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapters 1821
I. Sovereign Power by Institution and by Acquisition
A. Two Ways to Obtain Sovereign Power
Not a party to the social contract
We transfer our right of nature, unless there is someone enforcing the contract unless
someone is there to enforce the right of nature, it is useless, someone needs to be there to
enforce it with the right we transfer
Someone, entity, is not a party to the contract
We create a Leviathan, one with legitimate power, the sovereign, the only one with the
right of nature, the monopoly with the legitimate use of violence (distinct from
With a multiplicity of power, you have a state of nature (war), but with one power you
have peace, bringing in all the powers together and making one power is better
Indivisible right of nature, all wills becoming one will, one voice
Sovereign power now has the right of nature to do everything in their power to keep
peace, still in the state of nature
Every state deems what is in their interest to protect their citizens, so all sovereign states
are in a state of nature because there is no contract between the states, you basically have
several independent powers with right/state of nature
2 ways of instituting the contract
o 1st: natural force force itself submit or die
o 2nd: right by agreement
The argument why we need gov’t and why we obey gov’t doesn’t change
B. The Rights of the Sovereign by Institution
For Hobbes, it is a logical justification for gov’t
What does this absolute sovereign get to do?
Hobbes considers the rights of the sovereign in the gov’t by institution
The common power is transferred by giving all our powers to one person, our wills to one
will, our judgement to one judgement
Once we have a majority agreeing to one contract, everyone in the region is bound to
obey and authorize all the actions and judgements of the sovereign (even those few who
disagree) because we transferred our right of nature
C. Twelve Deduced Rights of the Sovereign
1 once instituted, the subjects have no right to change the form of gov’t
o No specific right to rebellion or revolution
o We are bound by the gov’t to own the actions and judgements in the covenant and
can’t own a new covenant without the judgement of the sovereign
2 there cannot be a breach of contract by the sovereign’s part
o Wouldn’t be possible to judge if the sovereign breached the contract anyway
3 requires the minority who did not consent to contract must abide by the sovereign
4 whatever the sovereign does cannot be considered unjust because it does everything
with authority
5 sovereign cannot be punished by the subjects
6 all opinions and doctrines, especially religious doctrines are subject to censorship
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