Class Notes (834,932)
Canada (508,829)
York University (35,167)
POLS 2900 (130)

Jan. 15- Hobbes' covenant.doc

3 Pages
Unlock Document

Political Science
POLS 2900
Stephen Newman

1 POLS 2900 Tuesday, January 15, 2013 HOBBES AND THE COVENANT Covenant • Creating a power among us strong enough so that no one can harm us- creating something that can protect us • There is a greater chance of stability when there is one will • In the creation of a sovereign, people in the public become subject to the sovereign power. This sovereign power then by association becomes a commonwealth. • When people covenant with one another, they transform their powers to one source- forming a commonwealth (the state) • This is the generation of the great Leviathan (the mortal God) • Leviathan is a literary illusion- it is from a book in the Bible. It depicts a sea monster. Leviathan is “king of the proud”. Leviathan and Sovereignty • From where Leviathan is rooted- when Joe asked God “why?” God answered, “where were you when I created the heavens?” • Power- owing power to obedience • Hobbes chose his literary illusion deliberately to be in sync with his message • Sovereign power is indivisible and irrevocable- otherwise it is self-contradictory. The definition of sovereign power is power of the highest realm. o Sovereignty can be no more divided than a single person is able to have two wills- it is a symbol of an artificial person, and the artificial person can only have one will o Sovereignty is irrevocable- cannot be taken back; unconditional. Either you give power unconditionally to the sovereign. Otherwise, you have not created sovereignty. • Rules of propriety- laws issued by the sovereign; civil laws • Absolute power allows the sovereign to enforce the laws absolutely • Sovereign has power to decide the outcome of controversy (adjudicating laws) • Sovereign has three powers: creating laws, adjudicating laws and enforcing laws • Securing peace involves no law-breaking because no one can escape the sovereign power • The Hobbesian sovereign is a human being. It is passed as sovereign. It is to establish laws, and in so doing, it is to establish just and unjust law. o What are rights? Rights are judged from the individual’s view in a state of nature. o But once there is a commonwealth, the sovereign gets to define rights. • The sovereign gets to decide what is right and what is wrong- it is translated through laws and holds absolute power. It functions like a justice machine. Are there limits? • No. There are no limits to what a sovereign can do. The sovereign does not forfeit its power if it commits some act that displeases its subjects. The sovereign has promised 2 them nothing, and thus is not subject to the covenant. • In making the covenant with one another, they all pre-approve everything that the sovereign does. • Hobbes defines tyranny as “monarchy misliked”- people who do not like the king call him a tyrant. A sovereign cannot abuse his power. Nonetheless, he may treat one or more of his subjects badly, where he is guilty of inequity. But he is not to be unjust. • The law of nature tells us to not interfere with those who mediate peace- sovereign may in fact impose a law of nature (thus, being wicked, but nonetheless, not unjust) • Sovereigns are not under the law- though wicked actions can be committed, it cannot be unjust • Hobbes: the worst abuse of sovereign power is nothing compared to the miseries and calamities that accompanies a civil war • The sovereign has n
More Less

Related notes for POLS 2900

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.