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PSIR 1A-10.4 Thomas Hobbes – Previous Year Questions & Answers

Previous Year Questions (2013-2022)

1] Individualism is inherent in Hobbes’ absolutist ideology. Comment. [2022/15m/200w/3c]

2] Comment on Hobbesian notion of political obligation. [2017/10m/150w/1e]

3] How would I and my fellow human beings behave if we were to find ourselves in a state of nature, and what does this behaviour tell us about our innate predispositions? Thomas Hobbes. Discuss. [2016/10m/150w/1a]

4] Comment: ‘Covenants without swords are but words and of no strength to secure man at all’. Hobbes. [2013/10m/150w/1c]

5] Comment on the assertion of Laslett that Filmer and not Hobbes was the main antagonist of Locke. [2013/15m/200w/4c]

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Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2022)

1] Individualism is inherent in Hobbes’ absolutist ideology. Comment. [2022/15m/200w/3c]

Hobbes is often criticized for giving absolute rights to the state. However, what many fail to understand is that the end goal of Hobbes is not the absolutism of state, but rather the protection of right to life.

Hobbes supports the social contract theory which demolishes the divine rights of the king. This social contract is drawn by free men of the state of nature who have a natural right to life and liberty. But, adds Hobbes, the state of nature is a war of every man against every man in which the life of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. And every man is on the lookout to increase his power.

To ensure security, these rational individuals come together to constitute a state and gave up their right to liberty to an absolute monarch. The individuals will keep the right to life with themselves and can resist the monarch when his right to life is under threat. Hence, it is on the basis of radical individualism that Hobbes builds his theory of political absolutism.

Modern commentators like Oakeshott and Gauthier believe that “Hobbes’s political doctrine has greater affinities with the liberalism of the 20th Century than his authoritarian theory would initially suggest”.

Natural right is the basis of Hobbes’ theory; it is not its conclusion. Hobbes starts with the natural rights of the individual but severely restricts the rights to found a viable civil society. Unlike liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill, he does not espouse an individual’s right to limit or resist the authority of the state. [261 words]

The post contains answers to the last 5-year papers i.e. (2022-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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