December 28, 2012
Firearms and social contract theory
To the editor:
I was tickled to read Sam Cuthbert’s letter (Dec. 19) because he gave an excellent summary of Thomas Hobbes’ social contract theory. Mr. Cuthbert is correct that absolute freedom cannot produce the liberty and security we desire, but I noted three flaws in his reasoning.
First, suppose law-abiding citizens do relinquish their weapons “for the greater good.” Do we think that the lawless perpetrators of senseless violence would comply with a weapons ban? Surely not.
Second, America’s founders relied on Locke’s social contract theory, not that of Hobbes. Unlike Hobbes’ concept of an overawing, absolutely sovereign government, Locke advocated separation of powers and the protection of personal property (possessions). It is from this foundation that we can understand our present liberties, including the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.
Finally, Mr. Cuthbert’s reference to Christmas and Christ’s eventual return is a non sequitur fallacy — it is a tangent that does not logically follow from his previous reasoning. In fact, there are quite a few discrepancies between Hobbes’ social contract theory and Christianity.
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