Shouldn’t citizens have a say in how they are governed? Or is that just a recipe for extremism, division, and war? Do we need a ruler with absolute power to maintain peace? This week we’re thinking about Thomas Hobbes and his views about citizenship and the state.
What is it
Seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that without government to control our worst impulses, life would be 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.' Consequently, he thought that absolute monarchy is the best form of government. So is Hobbes’ ideal citizen simply someone who is willing to submit to absolute authority, or are there other features the ideal citizen must have? What flaws would make a subject bad, or worse, a threat to peace in the realm? And are there any lessons modern democracies can learn from Hobbes’ political philosophy? The Philosophers submit to Stanford political scientist Alison McQueen, author of Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times.