Why Government Hobbes and Locke Answer Key

Why Government? Hobbes and Locke Answer Key


The concept of government has been a subject of discussion and debate for centuries. Philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke have provided key insights into the purpose and justification of government. Their theories have shaped our understanding of the social contract and the relationship between individuals and the state. In this article, we will explore the ideas of Hobbes and Locke regarding the necessity of government and how they differ in their perspectives. Additionally, a FAQs section at the end will address common queries related to their theories.

Thomas Hobbes’ Perspective:

Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher of the 17th century, believed that without government, human life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. In his influential work, “Leviathan,” Hobbes argued that individuals in a state of nature would constantly be in conflict with one another, driven by their self-interests. According to Hobbes, this state of nature is a war of all against all, where life is uncertain and chaotic.

For Hobbes, the primary purpose of government is to prevent this state of nature and establish order. He believed that individuals should willingly surrender their natural rights and freedoms to an absolute sovereign, in what he called the social contract. The sovereign, in turn, would be responsible for maintaining peace and security through the exercise of absolute power. According to Hobbes, this authoritarian rule is necessary to protect individuals from their own destructive instincts.

John Locke’s Perspective:

John Locke, another influential English philosopher of the 17th century, had a different perspective on the purpose of government. Locke believed in the natural rights of individuals, which include life, liberty, and property. Unlike Hobbes, Locke argued that individuals in a state of nature could coexist peacefully, as they have a moral obligation to respect one another’s rights.

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For Locke, government exists to protect these natural rights and promote the common good. He proposed a limited form of government, where power is divided and individuals have the right to rebel against an oppressive ruler. Locke’s theory of government is based on consent, emphasizing that the authority of the government comes from the consent of the governed. He viewed the social contract as a mutual agreement between citizens and the government, rather than an absolute surrender of rights.

Differences between Hobbes and Locke:

The theories of Hobbes and Locke have distinct differences in their understanding of government. Hobbes advocates for an absolute and authoritarian sovereign, while Locke promotes a limited government that respects individual rights. Hobbes believes in the necessity of an all-powerful state to maintain order, whereas Locke argues for a government that serves the people and can be challenged if it fails to do so.

The FAQs section:

1. Are Hobbes and Locke’s theories relevant today?
Yes, both Hobbes and Locke’s theories are still relevant today as they provide insights into the fundamental principles of governance and the relationship between individuals and the state. Their ideas continue to shape political philosophy and influence democratic societies.

2. Which theory is more applicable in the modern world?
The applicability of Hobbes or Locke’s theories depends on the specific context and perspective. Some argue that Hobbes’ theory is more applicable in times of crisis or instability, where a strong central authority is needed. On the other hand, Locke’s theory is often seen as more appropriate for democratic societies, emphasizing individual rights and limited government.

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3. Can aspects of both theories be combined?
Yes, it is possible to combine aspects of both theories to form a more comprehensive understanding of government. Many political systems today incorporate elements from both Hobbes and Locke’s theories, aiming to strike a balance between order and individual liberty.


The theories of Hobbes and Locke provide contrasting views on the necessity and purpose of government. While Hobbes argues for an absolute sovereign to maintain order, Locke advocates for a limited government that protects individual rights. Both theories have had a profound impact on the development of political philosophy and continue to shape our understanding of governance. Understanding these perspectives helps us analyze and evaluate different forms of government, ensuring a more informed and engaged citizenry.

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