Liberty in Leviathan from Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes and Liberalism

Thomas Hobbes is a philosopher who is thought to have liberal traits, but he was also a totalitarian. By studying Hobbes' knowledge of government and justice, this essay seeks to express Hobbes as a libertarian philosopher who championed classical liberalism. Hobbes is placed in the perspective of contemporary political philosophy in this study. Textual evidence supports Hobbes liberalism in evaluating key features of his philosophical writings on freedom. As a result, the study is seeking to counter previous claims that Hobbes' philosophical works lacked liberal ideas. Hobbes has several reasons as to why liberty is fundamental to what it means to be human. First, Hobbes defines the right of nature as every individual is entitled to use his authority to safeguard his life. He knows that liberty means the absence of impediments thus it cannot be a freedom from things that cause harm to one's desires. Therefore, because people's passion is the protection of their bodies, then the government works to safeguard people from any acts which may put their bodies in jeopardy. Therefore, it is clear that the liberty that Hobbes Leviathan addresses is freedom from the state of nature. The liberty works to safeguard an individual who may be attacked and harmed by people who have the opportunity to inflict harm on him/her (Skinner 23). One could argue that in this situation a person may lose other forms of liberty offered by nature. Indeed, past the fundamental rights of a person not harming his well-being and do not oblige in combat, every different type of freedom depends on the silence of the laws. In instances where freedom has not offered any rules, individuals are therefore obliged to do as per their directions or wish. Hobbes, thus, suggests that are many liberties that the government cannot forbid its subjects.

Hobbes' View on Government and Obedience

Hobbes states that people can only obey the laws provided by the government so long that the government is competent of guarding them against the state of nature. According to Hobbes, this situation is a basic common sense in that when a sovereign has no authority to safeguard its people; then it is no longer in control. The argument helps us understand that when a state is not doing its job, the people have all the reasons and rights not to obey it.

Hobbes' Concept of the Third Party and Commonwealth

From the Leviathan, Hobbes states that there should always be a third party which acts as a moderator between people who are under contract. As seen in Hobbes writing, it is evident that the third party is portrayed as another person. The third party in the real sense it is a body which deals with the breakages of contracts not to the interest of one side but according to the provision of the contract. According to Hobbes, the third party is referred to as a commonwealth. The Commonwealth acts a great multitude of symbiotic agreements between people.

Hobbes' Perspective on Government and Liberty

It is therefore clear that Hobbes sees liberty as fundamental to the well-being of a state. Hobbes does not portray the ruling body as liberal always. He does not state that the agency dictates every aspect and nature of its subjects. According to his understanding of the government, he says that it must have absolute power to rule over conflicts and natural state fear. The government must be the unquestioned judge who deals with a dispute between two or more disagreeing parties or individuals. He continues and depicts the government as always acting in goodwill, without selfish interest and should not make its judgments in favor of any particular side.

The Role of Government in Upholding Peace

The Leviathan is entitled to the drafting and implementation of laws, but it is not a subject of the rules. The body has the authority of interpreting social matters such as education and religion. The agency may order an individual to anything provided he/she does not harm his/her well-being. The government is, therefore, a fundamental body created by a multitude of people to guard their interests as a group. Government bodies conduct their workings to protect, safeguard and uphold peace and to secure the validity of their people covenants. It is therefore clear that Hobbes portrayed the existence of governments as a fundamental premise of classical liberalism but not a body that works for it selfish purposes as stated by other scholars.

The Importance of Liberty in Government

Liberty should be integral in the arrangement of power failure to that the United Kingdom under the international law gives people under its jurisdiction effective remedy to domestic laws. According to Hobbes, a government is supposed to possess unlimited power and the power should not in any case be shared or partial. The authority to make laws, judgment, implementation, and taxing its subjects, as well as war-making, is merged in manner that losing either causes ineffectiveness to the others. For instance, making laws without analysis and enforcing the desired rules cannot oblige to normalize conduct.

Influence of Hobbes' Approach to Liberty

Furthermore, a government which does not involve liberty in the arrangement of power causes a sense of resistance among its subjects. People supposed to be safeguarded by the state turns against the government which in turn may create several strains to the running of the country. Only a management which possesses all the sovereign values depicted by Hobbes can be efficient in its conducts (Hobbes, John & Chappell 36). It is therefore clear that a government should always involve liberty as a fundamental virtue in the formation of a ruling body failure to which people will not obey its powers.

Hobbes' Impact on Modern View of Freedom

Hobbes' approach to liberty has significantly impacted how people view freedom in the current generation. Many scholars term him as a philosopher who advocated for a government with absolute powers. Hobbes evidently outlined a framework which would help people to rise above their natural state of conflicts and distress to form a prosperous and industrious society. Examining Hobbes time of existence and the political disputes as well as religious disagreements in his era, it is clear that his goal was to provide stability. It is therefore evident that Hobbes helped the current generation to know the importance of having a government rather than the State of Nature since the latter allows its people to pursue their happiness to be successful.


In conclusion, it is clear that this work has analyzed and examined Thomas Hobbes work in his approach to liberty. The work has answered to why democracy is fundamental to what it means to be human. The view of freedom as being integral to the proper functioning of the state is also depicted in this paper. Finally, this work has discussed how people have been influenced by Hobbes approach to liberty in the current generation and their views to freedom as impacted by Hobbes writing.

Works Cited

Hobbes, Thomas, John Bramhall, and Vere C. Chappell. Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

Skinner, Quentin. Hobbes and Republican Liberty. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

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