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John Locke and Thomas Hobbes Perspectives on Slavery (Essay Sample)
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John Locke and Thomas Hobbes Perspectives on Slavery
John Locke views on slavery have been hugely debated especially from a theoretical perspective and his political views. On one hand, he called for the abolishment of slavery and advocated that slave owners should set their prisoners free except those acquired in war. On the other hand, he was involved in the slave trade in America albeit him being an Englishman. Therefore, a critical analysis of Locke’s slavery belief that would influence his advice for Moses would be largely depended on his political and economic interests or his beliefs on who should be enslaved.
Locke engaged in the slave trade in America albeit from afar. His hypocritical criticism of slavery is, therefore, depended on his economic or political advantage. His advocacy for slave owners to continue enslaving African-Americans in Carolina outweighs his criticism for slavery. Locke tolerated slavery when it was giving him and advantage and negatively criticized it when he was not a beneficiary. In his contribution to the Constitution of Carolina, Locke gave absolute powers of life and death to slave owners of African-Americans. Therefore, in advising Moses on the issue of Pharaoh’s slaves, he would not be empathetic of Israelites but rather support Ramses to enslave them to build him his pyramids. He lacked a direct significant economic or political advantage. However, his criticism for slavery was racial and only defended British slavery thus his criticism never encompassed all racesCITATION Cha12 \p 68 \l 1033 (Chandana Chakrabarti, 2012, p. 68). Therefore, Locke would likely argue that Pharaoh Ramses should continue keeping his slaves since they were not British. Thus, judging from his racial and political interests in which he decided when slavery was appropriate or wrong, he would have justified the enslavement of Israelites to serve Pharaoh Ramses.
Thomas Hobbes defined parameters of slavery from the perspective of contracts. He argued that slaves are differentiated from servants from the contract they have entered with their master. He argues that servants have an implicit or explicit contract with their masters that defines their terms of engagement and so do slaves. To justify slavery, Hobbes claims that people who remain subjects do so in exchange for their liberty. And for the prisoners who decide to escape their masters breach the contract and thus liable for punishment. For the slaves who remain and work without rebellion, he considers them as servants who have agreed to work for their masters in exchange for their lives. Thus, according to Hobbes, a slave can be called a slave if he/she is held against his/her will and is actively trying to escape bondage CITATION Dav12 \l 1033 (Dyzenhaus & Poole, 2012). He agrees with Locke that war prisoners can be enslaved and absolute power over their lives given to their masters. War slaves live at the mercy of their masters, ...
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