Grafton High School Hobbes & The Prisioners Dilemma Essay

  1. A common interpretation of Hobbes is that he thinks human beings are fundamentally bad (maybe similar to Augustine's view). An alternative reading (the prisoner's dilemma interpretation you might say) understands Hobbes as saying that human beings are simply rational, and in the basic circumstances of an agreement or game it is irrational for people to abide by their contracts. Which of these readings is best supported by Hobbes' Leviathan?

a. Explain the perspective on Hobbes' ontology, which holds human beings are fundamentally evil.  Provide textual support for that view, and unpack the evidence.

b. Explain the prisoner's dilemma reading of Hobbes by explaining the prisoner's dilemma in your own words (use the chart) and providing textual evidence to support that view.  Unpack the textual evidence.

c. Based on your analysis of the evidence, explain which reading of Hobbes is right.

d. Finally, write a couple sentences reflecting on whether Hobbes is right about human ontology. You should include reflections on the podcast and your experience playing the prisoner's dilemma game. 

2.  Find the passage that explains the terms of Hobbes' social contract, the covenant by which people agree to exit the state of nature. Explain why this social contract leads to an absolute monarch, but one based on liberal principles rather than the divine right of kings. Make sure you cite correctly and unpack any quotes.