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Why Does Hobbes Describe the State of Nature as a State of War?

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Sample Exam Question: Why does Hobbes describe the state of nature as a state of war?

Before answering the question why Hobbes describes the state of nature as a state of war it is to be clarified what is meant by those two terms. For Hobbes, as pictured in his work “Leviathan”, the “state of nature” is the condition before the foundation of the state. In this condition of anarchy, literally everybody has the freedom to do everything he wants. The state of nature is also a “condition of war a war of every one against every one” (p. 189). For Hobbes, “war” is not only the situation of actual battle, but also the immediate thread that a battle might occur (p. 186).
Analyzing Hobbes’ argumentation, one can find three main reasons why the state of nature is a state of war: 1. Men are motivated to use force, 2. Literally every man is able to do so, 3. Nobody hinders them therein.
As for the motivation, Hobbes identifies three main reasons to use force (p. 185): The first is “competition” to gain something that belongs to someone else – such as his wife, cattle, land, etc. The second reason is “diffidence”, or the will to violently defend something from a competitor. The third cause of quarrel is “glory”: men seek reputation and therefore fight over even the most insignificant things, such as words, a smile, etc.
The second condition why Hobbes identifies the state of nature as a state of war is that men are always able to use force as a means of resolving conflict. The reason for this is that men are more or less “equal” in their physical or mental power (p. 183f). While acknowledging that there surely are differences in the distribution of those powers, Hobbes points to the fact that these differences are too small to stand in the way of conflict. In fact, even the weakest man will have a chance to succeed over the strongest – for instance by…...

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