Introducing the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom and discussing the philosophical traditions of classical liberalism and political economy.
Hobbes believed that it was our inherent natural right to act in any way available to us for the preservation of our lives. Since this tends towards violence and stagnation of commerce in Hobbes’ State of War, and thus towards death and the diminishment of life, he concludes that reason requires that we “seek peace” (First Law).
But in order for me to be secure in restraining my natural right to act for my preservation, to act peacefully, then I need to know others will also restrain themselves. From this Hobbes reasons it is required that men, “be willing, when others are so too, out of the desire for Peace and necessity for self-defense, to lay down the right to all things, and be content with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself” (Second Law). You likely already noted the echo of the Biblical Golden Rule and Hobbes himself cites the Bible directly in his formulation of this law. This is generalized as his Law of “Covenants” or contract.