Hobbes, Locke, & Hume

We are in this together now.

Lesson Objectives

• Understand how Hobbes' approached morality in a whole new way

• Appreciate the need for government as a guardian against the State of Nature

• Understand how the Social Contract works

• Understand why Locke promotes the right to revolution in modern government

• Appreciate why early modern Brits promoted the notion of tabula rasa

• Understand what's at stake with Hume's Fork and Skeptical outlook

Key Terms

Divine Right of Kings

State of Nature

The Social Contract

Court of Public Opinion

The Right to Revolution

Life, Liberty, & Property


Tabula Rasa

Subjective Idealism

Impressions vs. Ideas

Hume's Fork

Relations of Ideas vs. Matters of Fact

Hobbesian Political Theory

Thomas Hobbes

• 17th Century Conservative Political Philosopher

• Deeply affected by nine years of English Civil War (1642-1651)

• Hobbes was a peaceful man who thought deeply about peace

• 1651: Hobbes publishes The Leviathan

Hobbes in my Ethics Course

Before Hobbes: The Divine Right of Kings

• Medieval Period: God placed kings on their thrones

• The Early Modern Wars of Religion made this obsolete

• Over time, political thinking shifted to the idea that the power of the throne came not from God but from the People

Hobbes' New Approach

• Erase all previous assumptions about morality

• Assume no God to give commands (cf. Relgious Wars)

• Assume no natural purpose or law (cf. Religious Wars)

• Assume Psychological Egoism: we are all naturally selfish

• We pity people because we fear the same could happen to us

• What then is the basis of our morality?