Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Spence On Hobbes

"A central argument that provides ethical support to the new laws is the social contract argument. First raised by Plato 2500 years ago, it was developed in its modern form by the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes said the legitimacy of the state and its citizens is rationally and ethically mandated by a notional social contract under which individuals agree to constrain their "anything goes" unlimited freedoms for the sake of security, safety, civility and public order which the state guarantees on the basis of mutually acceptable moral principles.

However, the state only holds power in trust for the collective good, and its legitimacy is ultimately founded on the implied consent of its citizens. Whereas the state has an obligation to protect and preserve the security and safety of its citizens, the citizens have an obligation to abide by the ethical and legal principles upon which the state is founded.

When individuals through deeds or words threaten the security of the state and the safety of its citizens the government has a legal and ethical obligation to do whatever is needed to protect its citizens. A government that fails to do so would rightly be deemed negligible and held culpable for such negligence." - 'Freedom, if others are restrained', Sydney Morning Herald (November 21, 2005).

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