Thomas Hobbes on the rights and duties of sovereign
In his seminal work “Leviathan,” Thomas Hobbes, a prominent English philosopher during the 17th century, expounded upon his perspectives regarding the rights and responsibilities attributed to the sovereign.
The concept of absolute authority, as posited by Hobbes, entails the notion that the sovereign ought to possess unbounded power, hence rendering their authority indivisible and devoid of any constraints.
The authority of the sovereign ought to be seen as absolute and impervious to questioning or opposition. Hobbes posited the notion that the preservation of social order and prevention of a hypothetical state of nature characterized by conflict and chaos necessitated the presence of a robust sovereign authority.
The concept of safeguarding natural rights involves the proposition put out by Hobbes that individuals voluntarily relinquish their rights to the governing authority through a social agreement, with the expectation of receiving protection and assurance in return.
The foremost responsibility of the sovereign is to guarantee the protection and conservation of the inherent rights of individuals, encompassing the entitlements to life, liberty, and property. The legitimacy of the sovereign’s power is contingent upon the agreement of the populace, with the primary objective of protecting their inherent and essential rights.
The enforcement of laws is a fundamental duty of the sovereign, who is entrusted with the task of establishing and implementing regulations that control the functioning of society. The formulation of these regulations need to be grounded in rationality and intended to foster the attainment of tranquility and constancy.
Hobbes posited the notion that the authority of the sovereign ought to encompass both the public and private spheres, thereby encompassing legislative processes, adjudication, and the administration of penalties for those who transgress the law. The primary responsibility of the sovereign is to uphold social order and facilitate conflict resolution by implementing and enforcing legal frameworks.
Hobbes posited that the sovereign ought to possess authority over religious matters as well, functioning as an arbitrator in this domain. He espoused the idea of promoting a cohesive and institutionalized religious framework in order to mitigate potential religious strife that may undermine societal cohesion. Hobbes argues that it is the responsibility of the sovereign to establish the official religion of the state and exercise control over religious activities in order to mitigate divides and foster societal unity.
Non-Accountability: According to Hobbes, the sovereign is not held accountable to the subjects or any external authority. Given the total nature of the sovereign’s power, there exists no obligation for them to provide justification for their decisions or actions to any entity. The sovereign possesses the autonomy to execute their authority in accordance with their own discretion, without being bound by legal limitations or the influence of public sentiment.
Hobbes’ viewpoint of the rights and obligations of the sovereign is indicative of his conviction in the indispensability of a robust central authority in order to mitigate the inherent chaos and strife arising from human nature. Although his ideas have encountered criticism and engendered controversy, his writings have exerted a substantial impact on the field of political philosophy and the comprehension of sovereign authority.