Liberalism in its Political Interpretation
Above all things, it should be claimed that liberalism in its political interpretation is a very complex phenomenon. According to John Rawls, political liberalism is grounded on three principle tenets: the political conception of justice which forms the basis of the society’s structure; emphasis on “an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines”; and correspondence between the process of public discussions and the political conception of justice (Rawls 44). Also, it should be supposed that Locke and Hobbes have represented their own liberal theories making a substantial impact on American Constitution.
As far as John Locke is concerned, it should be ascertained that his well-elaborated political liberalism is particularly illustrated in the Second Treatise. According to Grant, the author of the Second Treatise starts his discourse with clarifying the political necessity of establishing a judge in order to settle disputes among men. Nevertheless, Locke is disposed to think that it is incumbent on every citizen to be a judge in order to insure peace and prevent the government from entering into a state of war (Grant 179). In addition, it should be mentioned that Locke is a supporter of the classical social contract theory but he asserts that only a limited number of rights should be transferred to the sovereign. In the final analysis, it should be claimed that the right to make judgment is an undeniable one. Therefore, political institutions including government, to Locke’s opinion, function as the common judge, while people embody the status of the final judge (Grant 179).
In accordance with Hobbes’ philosophizing, the government has been established due to the consent given by way of social contract. Furthermore, Hobbes argues that the principle purpose of the social contract is to establish the political body (Erckel 11). In this connection, the aforesaid political body should be titled as a “common-wealth”. According to Hobbes, people consider possible to transfer all of their liberties to the sovereign with the exception of the right to self-preservation. Moreover, the right to self-preservation originates from the state of nature where everybody has a right and license to everything in the world (Hobbes vii). Therefore, eternal “war of all against all” and “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short life” in the state of nature have stimulated peoples to conclude the social contract (Hobbes xiii).
When all things are considered, it should be outlined that America’s First Principles and provisions of the Constitution have been assuredly influenced by Thomas Hobbes’ and John Locke’s conceptions of liberalism. In view of the above, it should be noticed that the rule of law being a First Principle implies that only law governs behavior of everyone. Both Hobbes and Locke do imply in their social contract theories that people have transferred their particular rights to sovereign causing the birth of law. Further, unalienable rights as a First Principle should be juxtaposed with the philosophers’ theories of natural rights. Likewise, The First Principle of equality is derived from Hobbes’ and Locke’s understanding of people as equal beings. In addition, The First principle of the Social Compact originates from the social contract theory. In like manner, The First principle of limited government corresponds with Locke’s concept of a final judge incorporated in all citizens.
It is possible to arrive at the conclusion that liberalism of Hobbes and Locke has crucially influenced the principles and provisions of American Constitution.