Hobbes: The Limitations of Absolute Sovereignty

4 April 2015
A discussion of collective sovereignty versus individual freedom.

This paper analyzes Hobbes’ philosophy of collective sovereignty versus individual freedom: Should you follow your own own beliefs and risk harming the collective or not? It uses a modern-day example of two workers who are asked to perform a non-ethical task that could jeopardize the company they work for.
The first moral dilemma occurs in the collision of Ted and Margaret’s duty to their company and their duty to their own honor. While and Hobbes agrees it is the chief duty of subjects to obey without question the authority of their sovereign (in this case, the company) in order to maintain the peace and order of the collective, there are certain limitations. Indeed, this law of obligation should more correctly read, subjects must obey the authority of the sovereign provided that it does not require them to sacrifice their lives or their honor for an end that does not utterly support the collective

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