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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy In a broad sense, a commonwealth contrasts with the state of nature and is identical with a civil state or civitas . In a narrow sense, it is government, in particular democratic government. Both Hobbes and Locke endorsed the broad sense. A commonwealth as a civil state is formed when people in a state of nature consent to give up some of their rights and powers in exchange for the protection of other rights and powers. It is generally believed that in a commonwealth people can live in a peaceful and orderly manner. A commonwealth must have some form of government, that is, some system of subjection and obedience. In this regard, it is different from a community in which there is no system of subjection. Both Hobbes and Locke held that a commonwealth should be one coherent living body. Among the various forms of governments a commonwealth might have, Hobbes preferred monarchy, while Locke proposed democracy. “By common-wealth, I must be understood all along to mean, not a Democracy, or any form of government, but any independent community which the Latines signified by the word civitas , to which the word which best answers in our language, is commonwealth, and most properly expresses such a Society of Man, which Communities or city in English does not, for there may be subordinate Communities in a Government.” Locke, Two Treatises on Government ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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