Thomas Hobbes VS John Locke

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John Locke and Thomas Hobbes: A Comparative Analysis

John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were the most influential political theorists of their day. Both produced extensive philosophical books that aid in depicting government's duties in human existence, as well as their perspective of a person's condition of nature. Hobbes felt that a society might function without rules. On the other side, John Locke maintained that government should be run in the best interests of the people. Locke and Hobbes were unquestionably outstanding theorists whose political viewpoints were influenced by their personal experiences. This essay will investigate how the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke reflect the human nature, liberty, capitalism, revolution, and the relationship between citizen and the state.

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke's Perspectives on Society

Thomas Hobbes believed that a society could operate with no rules. On the other hand, John Locke argued that government must operate for the citizens' interest. Locke and Hobbes were certainly two great theorists whose political perspectives were impacted by their individual experiences. This essay will investigate how the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke reflect the human nature, liberty, capitalism, revolution, and the relationship between citizen and the state.

The State of Human Nature: Hobbes vs. Locke

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke had different beliefs on the state of human nature. Hobbes believed that when a man was placed in a state of nature lacking a governing power, then they would be in a regular fight for power in an everlasting rivalry. In contrast, John Locke had a belief that everyone is bestowed with natural rights. The granted natural rights incorporate property, life, and liberty. Locke supposed people might be denied their natural rights in a state of nature lacking the protection of the government. Locke's foundational belief is derived from the Bible's Genesis, where Adam was given natural rights by God. Locke lays emphasis on the significance of property that incorporates natural rights.

Understanding Natural Law and Property Ownership

Regarding the natural law, Locke argues that humans are aware of what is appropriate and inappropriate. They can determine what is just and not just, and sufficiently find solutions to settle their conflicts. Humans have distinct capabilities to separate their belongings from what other people own. Surprisingly, most people do not subscribe to this knowledge of the law of nature, which according to Hobbes is a common experience. Property ownership exclusively exists by the desire of state, and men are rebuked to the endless conflict to secure the best portion of their belongings. The liberty to dispute against absolute power by the pretenders of political prudence is animated by false doctrines and continuously a half of the fundamental laws. Besides, regarding the relationship between citizen and state, Locke asserts that men are more often than not fulfilled by their vows to conform to state duties; albeit insecure, which was mainly peaceable, decent, and appealing. In contrast, Hobbes believes that no organization is evil to the extent of instilling fear of harm or death to its members. These differences are sufficient enough to heed and respect the different forms of government in our societies. A person who attempts to get his fellow into an absolute power does put himself into a state of war with the other party; this can be understood to the point of declaring a design upon the other person’s life.

Government's Role in Justice and Decision Making

Locke desires are vested on offer to retain the right to life in which case justice should be supported by overwhelming energy. Locke further asserts that when a leader obtains total power and acts both as a judge and a political leader, there is a higher possibility of getting into state conflicts. The only important duty of the state is to make sure that justice prevails to everyone in the society, which according to Locke, authorization has no meaning in peaceful treaties. According to Hobbes, this is the difference from an idea that people should remain silent in the event of the official rule of going against government directives can result in more harm. Based on these facts, it is important to understand the role of government in areas of decision making and policy development.


Dzelzainis, Martin. "Ideas in conflict: political and religious thought during the English Revolution." In The Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution, 2001.

Hagos, Desta. "Conceptual Analysis on the Competing View of Social Contract Theory." PhD diss., AAU, 2016.

May, Larry. "Hobbes Against the Jurists: Sovereignty and Artificial Reason." Hobbes Studies 25.2 (2012): 223-232.

Theriault, Sawyer A. "John Locke and the Second Treatise on Government." Inquiries Journal 1.10 (2009).

May 02, 2023

Philosophy Science

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