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Define Comprehensiveness

citizens can be politically obligated with respect to a wide range of areas.
e.g., duty to obey drug laws


Significant content-independence

the duty to obey the laws of the state is not tied to the laws having a particular content, i.e., they don’t bind only if they have ‘correct’ content (relative to some independent standard, e.g., a moral standard).

There is a broad range of alternative possible laws that citizens could/would be obligated to obey



Unconditionalists about political obligation claim that there is complete content-independence, i.e., no matter what the content of the laws, there is always some duty to obey



Citizen's duty to obey the laws are owed only to the state that controls the territory



All or most citizens have a duty to obey the laws


Pro tanto

the ‘duty’ to obey the laws of the government can in some circumstances be overridden by other, e.g., moral, considerations. Nevertheless it is not easily overridden
Breaking the speed-limit to save someone’s life.


Moral Duty

The duty to obey the laws of the government is moral in nature.

e.g., the SEP on ‘Political Obligation’ claims that there is “almost complete agreement among political philosophers” on this point


Social Contract Theory

Social Contract Theorists argue that there are political obligations.

We have political obligations because, in some sense, we have agreed or consented to undertaking them


Hobbes: State of Nature

In ChXIII Hobbes introduces the State of Nature – human beings without a state or civil government.

For Hobbes, the State of Nature is a state of perpetual war.


Empirical Assumptions

According to Hobbes, individuals in the State of Nature are in a state of rough equality.
i.e., even though some people are a bit stronger or a bit smarter than others, they don’t have a decisive and secure natural advantage over time.
Due to this no-one is secure from invasion by others.


Hobbes on human nature. According to Hobbes, human beings are:

Are valuing beings – but our value judgments are simply expressions of or about our desires.
Are constantly in ‘motion’ - motivated by desires.
Have a fundamental desire/impulse to avoid death and to preserve themselves.
Seek the continual satisfaction of our desires: felicity


Hobbes on Power

We are in situation of scarce resources.
In order to attain Felicity (and to avoid death), we need Power.
Power is our present means to secure future goods, e.g., resources, riches, reputations, friends.
An individual’s Power, is however, relative to the power of others, e.g., my riches only count as genuine riches relative to how much others have...
Due to this, we need to be continually increasing our power


Hobbes: 3 general sources of conflict in the state of nature

1) Competition – people will fight for gain of resources.
2) Glory – people will invade others to gain reputation and inspire awe.
3) Diffidence – people will pre-emptively attack others or prepare for defence and safety
These are exacerbated by differences in value judgments



Everyone gets sucked into the Power struggle.
Hobbes does not think that human beings are naturally cruel.
The key point for Hobbes is that it is prudent to be diffident in the State of Nature.


Normative features of the State of Nature

The Rights and ‘Laws’ which exist in the State of Nature:
1) The Right to Self-Defence
2) The Right of Nature
3) The Laws of Nature


The Right of Self-Defence

We have an inalienable Right of Self-Defence.

-in a sense it is reasonable that we protect ourselves given our fundamental desire/impulsion to avoid death.
- no-one is obligated to do anything that tends to their destruction.
- I can never be rationally interpreted as agreeing to something that would tend to my destruction


The Right of Nature

The liberty to do anything, which in our judgment, is conducive to preserving our lives.
More or less anything, in principle, could be required for this, e.g., another person’s life, goods, resources...
Can be thought of as a Right of Self-Government, i.e., in the absence of other authority, you are entitled to rely upon your own judgment.


1) The Laws of Nature

In Ch XIV, Hobbes also introduces the Laws of Nature.
'theorems’ of reason based upon our fundamental desire/impulsion to self-preservation.
They pick out the implications of the desire to preserve ourselves – things we are rationally bound to do.
Given how awful the state of nature is, we are rationally bound to seek peace.


2) The Laws of Nature

The Fundamental Law of Nature: seek peace and follow it.

The Second Law of Nature: lay down your Right of Nature when others are too.


3)The Laws of Nature

It’s all very well to say that you are rationally bound to seek peace, keep your agreements etc, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will follow the rule.
Indeed, in many cases, following a Law of Nature would be disastrous – and wouldn’t appear rational at all.


Fifth law of nature

This says that you should strive to be accommodating to other people’s desires/be cooperative.
However, in the State of Nature, following this could be catastrophic


In foro interno

Being obligated in foro interno (internally), you are only obligated to want the relevant thing to take place


In foro externo

Being obligated in foro externo (externally), i.e., you must perform the action


2) fifth law of nature example