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What were the beliefs of Thomas Hobbes?

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Quick Answer

Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher, believed that people are naturally selfish and cruel, and governments are needed to protect them from each other. He also believed that people let themselves be ruled by dictators and kings because they make society more orderly and stable. The fear of a violent death also would motivate people to surrender their rights and submit to absolute power.

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Hobbes' 1651 book, "Leviathan," established the foundation for much of Western social contract theory, which addresses the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the government over the individual. He believed that political power is based in the consent of the people and that people should be free to do whatever the law, government or ruler does not explicitly forbid.

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