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Learn about social contract theory and what some important thinkers from the 1600s onward had to say about it.
Thomas Hobbes was a 17th century English philosopher who is on hand to guide us through one of the thorniest issues of politics: to what extent should we patiently obey rulers, especially those who are not very good – and to what extent should we start revolutions and depose governments in search of a better world?
Hobbes’s thinking is inseparable from one major event that began when he was 64 years old – and was to mark him so deeply, it coloured all this subsequent thinking (remarkably he died when he was 91 and everything he is remembered for today he wrote after the age of 60).
This event was the English Civil war, a vicious, divisive, costly and murderous conflict that raged across England for almost a decade and pitted the forces of King against Parliament, leading to the deaths of some 200,000 people on both sides.
Hobbes was by nature a deeply peaceful and cautious man.