Thomas Hobbes Personal Freedom

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Thomas Hobbes, one of the pioneers of modern political thought, in his book “Leviathan” thoroughly discusses the concepts of individual/personal liberty. He makes clear distinctions between one’s scope of liberty in the state of nature and in the commonwealth, emphasizing the trade of individual liberties in exchange to security in the commonwealth. In a Hobbesian world, before entering the commonwealth, people live in the state of nature in which they are also not capable of exercising perfect freedom as they are governed by the law of nature. One might wonder how significant is the law of nature (compared to the civil law) in regards to personal freedom. In my essay I will answer the question to what extent does natural law curb people’s personal liberty. I will argue that the law of nature is the main constraint on one’s personal…show more content…
According to Hobbes, personal liberty is the absence of external impediments , which means that the less a person is constrained by rules or regulations, the more personal freedom he is able exercise. The distinction between natural and political law is that the latter is artificially created by the sovereign and is imposed on mutual accord (in other words, it “is to every subject those rules which the commonwealth hath commanded him (by word, writing, or other sufficient sign of the will) to make use of” , whereas the former comes from within each rational individual and, thus, could be regarded as “not properly laws, but qualities that dispose men to peace and to obedience.” In this sense, it seems that civil law is superior to natural law in regards to limiting one’s personal liberty: natural law appears to be non-binding whereas civil law has to be imposed. It appears that personal liberty is more restricted in the commonwealth than in the state of

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