Nature of Society: Hobbes and Locke

Some of you have been commenting on human nature (or, as suggested in your wonderful summaries, our ‘innate tendencies’ or ‘basic inclinations’ or ‘natural disposition’) in your GP arguments. Broadly, some of you might think we are naturally evil and asocial (e.g. the greed of humans being the persistent cause of inequality?) or, well, naturally good and instinctively social (e.g. the provision of foreign aid? the benign intentions of governments?).

Two philosophers that might be of interest are John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, 17th Century English thinkers of outstandingly contrasting ideas about man, society and the role of the state.

Here’s a helpful table that summarizes their key thoughts on these areas.

Whose ideas are more reflective of our world today?


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