Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Thomas Hobbes, Thought Experiment, Rationality
Course CodePolitical Science 1020E
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The State of Nature: Hobbes
State of Nature
The Road to War
The Laws of Nature
Sample question - According to the preferred definition of politics from the last lecture, politics:
a. Necessarily involves violence
b. Required strong leaders
c. Is a way of dealing with conflict - correct answer
d. Is best left to the experts
e. Involves less than two people like sex
What is a failed state?
• No recognized authority with a monopoly on legitimate use of force
• Cannot ensure order and security= a condition of civil war
• States near collapse or failure are sometimes called fragile
• Political tells us how it’s going to do down the line
What is the State of Nature?
Why do we need a state?
• Thought experiment
• Imagine life without a state and political power (nothing that says what you have to do)
Who is Hobbes?
• Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679
• Leviathan (1651)
• Behemoth (1679)
What are Hobbesian Themes?
• Fear (people’s reactions to things, trump- fear, civil war)
• War (people fights with each other, fear comes from war, conflict)
• Peace (how do you get to peace? He's inside the civil war and people who also are (syria) will
What does Hobbes Claim?
• Worst scenario: no state protection
• Powerful state= needed to avoid disastrous interpersonal conflict (when you are with a
sibling and a parent leaves you start fighting and then when parents come back everything
changes and goes back to normal)
• Main premises: human nature (scientific based, how two human being things interact
together. Once people keep going, it’s very difficult to pull them off the path)
What does Hobbes say about human nature?
• Individuals are engaged in introspection- they worry about themselves
• Human beings are materialists- humans want a house, cars, power, food
• People seek felicity- individuals want things and they want them no matter
what. You gotta do what you gotta do.
• People want power- ability to have power over others and yourself (force people to do
How we think about ourselves:
• Predominantly self-regarding
• Seek to enhance reputation
• Averse to our own death (we develop strategies for our survival, we protect ourselves)
• Equally vulnerable, equally able (at some point we are too tired, too hungry, too sleepy and
at that point we are vulnerable no matter how big and strong you are)
What is the Road to War?
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