1. Where do you find that Machiavelli and Hobbes coincide, and where do you find that they differ, in their accounts of human nature?
Hobbes’ and Machiavelli’s views often overlap on their understanding of human nature. One relevant fact to that is this essay questions inquires about the differences of the two thinkers. Both of them had views of human nature that agreed on some points but disagreed on others. Hobbes had one many characterize as a negative view on human nature, that the natural state of affairs for a person is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” In comparison, Machiavelli was perhaps advocating for such an individual in order to ursurp political power.
Hobbe’s Leviathan is named after a sea monster in several places in the Old Testament. It is appropriate then that the image of human nature that he pains parallels such a monstrous state of affairs. Basically with Hobbes everyone should be continuously out for themselves. He writes “The right of nature is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life” (Hobbes, XIII) A man, looks after himself and uses every advantage a s he can over the people around him. Machiavelli for his part, would have agreed with that same depiction, but he would have instead seen that as a hopeless end as a justification for why it is preferable to act selfishly. This justifies a very destructive way that he thinks he should govern. Hobbes’ saw man’s alones as a depressing realization, while Machiavelli saw no problem with tyranny and cites the selfish state of natural affairs as the moral premise of that conclusion.
2. Discuss the approaches of Winstanley, Locke, and Rousseau to the question of property, and the implications of those approaches for treatment of the natural environment.
Long before some laws are put on the books, there are philosophers that inspire a political movement with a philosophical thought. Winstanley, Locke, and Rousseau are all philosophers of the latter category. Their views on private property especially led to big changes in law.
Locke’s view of private property mirrors that of the document it inspired, the US constitution. Locke sees property as having two different types. The first is what he considered the self evident property of a man’s self. Obviously, this could become complicated, since at the time of his writing slavery was still legal in many parts of the world. But it is beyond the scope of this question to address that. The second form of property comes in the form of extensions of a man’s body, or the things that he creates by mixing things in the natural world. An example would be an axe that a man made from taking a rock and a branch and tying them together. This, in Locke’s view, intuitively belongs to the man and he is able to do with it as he sees fit.
Locke’s theory or natural law has implications on the current environmental debates happening in various political arenas.
When Locke states that nature has a law to govern it (Locke, 637), he is referring to natural law. This law comes from nature. Under Locke’s observation things in natural, left to be how they were meant to be tend to thrive. Just as Locke would see the natural state of a trout would be to be happy and free in some idyllic stream, he see humankind’s natural state of affairs in a state where people are able to have freedom to do with their lives, their livelihoods, and the products of both as they want to do. He calls this a ‘state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and person, as they think fit.” (Locke, 637).
Rousseau saw property as a hindrance to the natural state of man’s affairs. Like laws, this was something that stood in the way of man achieving his full potential, or becoming fully actualized. The state of nature was what Rousseau advocated and as a result all consequences of society, property including, were evils. Property is not a need for Rousseau. The implication of his thinking on the environment is one in which the basic structures of society that are polluting it, like property, are in the category of evils by being the product of society—the social contract that yanks man unnaturally from the environment he was meant to thrive in.
Winstanley was mostly advocating against the English aristocracy he saw around him and property due to a biblical interpretation. WInstanley’s ideas have a similar implication as Rousseau, but without the abolition of the society so much or it’s laws, but on wages and owning. His outcomes could be compared to Marx’s philosophy but the philosophical road to get there differs in these cases. Winstanley therefore might not necessarily be against industry that is polluting the environment. Especially depending how literaly he would have interpreted the Bible verse in which man is given “Dominion over the animals.”
3. What does Rousseau see as being the basic purpose of government? To what extent do the views of Rousseau, Smith and Madison accord with the idea that law expresses “the interests of the stronger”?
Rousseau has very libertarian ideas of what government’s role should be in the life an individual citizen. Rousseau would have a problem with any government that was controlling its citizens and preventing them from doing what they desired. He was very firm about governments not being able to pass property laws since this would result in a state of more restrictions than a state of nature, which he saw as the best state of affairs for a person.
His view of government is a drastic departure than most governments, as we know of them today, since on of the primary reasons for society forming in the first place was to protect freedoms such as property rights. In this sense Rousseau sets up a system in which “the interests of the stronger” are protecting, since the stronger in a society without property laws would be able to seize property of the weaker.
Adam smith would have disagreed with Rousseau on this point and advocated a philosophy, which protected the rights and interests of the weaker. For him a society without enforced property laws was not even a society at all. One of Smith’s most quoted lines is ““Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” Smith than advocated very egalitarian laws that did not distinguish between rich in poor when it came to their rights. One of the consequences of Smith’s philosophy is a completely unregulated free market system. As a result, though Smith’s philosophy claims to advocate for everyone equally, how it plays out in reality is the rich tend to stack the deck of life in their own favor, which it could be argued protects “the interests of the stronger.”
It would be hard to paint James Madison’s philosophy in any other light than once that separates human beings into two very distinct casts. His view on blacks was that they were an “unnatural race” and that while they were human beings, their roles in life were to be a slave. Madison in believing in people as property advocated one weaker group’s oppression by a much stronger group. He did believe that it was both the job of the government, since slaves were human, to protect whatever rights the government had allotted them. He believed that the owner’s interest in protecting a slave would be out of the same impulse to protect them as one does their property. But he also at the same time believed that the government was in a position to protect the slaves from their masters.
Hobbes, Thomas, and J. C. A. Gaskin.Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.