Thomas Hobbes’ Philosophy of Law and Its Representation in the Movie a Time to Kill


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Law creates standards, keeps order, settles conflicts and protects the human rights and freedoms. However, a lawless society will suffer with chaos and crime. Hence, various philosophers have given their educated version and reasonings on the purpose of law, which have been referred to, throughout time. Their insight may vary, depending if they believe in positive or natural law.

Thomas Hobbes

Firstly, Thomas Hobbes, an English positive law theorist, ingenious historian and political scientist, was born in Westport, Wiltshire, England on April 5, 1588. He lived in a long life and died in Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire on December 4, 1679. He was famously known for his governmental thinking and beliefs, largely expressed in his monumental book called the Leviathan, which was published in the year 1651 A.D. Moreover, this famous book is internationally recognized as one of the best compositions, regarding his theory of governmental thoughts and justifications. To conclude, Thomas Hobbes was a brilliant philosopher during his era, with impactful theories.

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Philosophy of Law

Furthermore, Thomas Hobbes believed that natural law was slightly more than a figurative rationalization for the declaration of oppressors and that their jurisdiction was rooted from the eternal laws. In other words, tyrants used natural law for their own personal gain, in order to justify their immoral actions. Thomas Hobbes stated that natural laws were not laws at all, but “qualities that dispose men to peace and obedience.” Also, the philosopher believed that the vulnerability of natural law rests in its upheaval to people, in order to describe its subject matter according to the connotation it held for them. Hobbes declared individuals to be combative and barbaric and presumed that leaving the power of human behaviour to natural law, unlatched the doorway to a vicious and ungovernable nation. Moreover, Thomas Hobbes stated that he believed that all people are naturally evil, hence, “everyone is born evil.” During this theoretician’s existence, he presumed that the sole error-free establishment of the governing administration was the undivided sovereignty. Thomas Hobbes’ main reasoning was that individuals were primarily worried with their self-preservation, wants and needs. As a result, the citizens were obligated to give up fundamental independence, so that mankind would be free from chaos and live in a harmonious community. Therefore, governmental sovereignty was the main head of government and established laws. Otherwise, if mankind had no rule of government, individuals would break out into an ongoing combat amongst each other. This positive law philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, painted a grim outlook of life if sovereignty did not exist. The existence of man was lonely, moneyless, unpleasant and combative, thus, their life was in agony because of constant warfare. In brief, Thomas Hobbes believed that the responsibility for the security and welfare of all the citizens was in the company of the many who entrusted a monarchical individual.

The movie “A Time to Kill” is about a criminal case in rural Mississippi about a black father named Carl Lee, who was on trial for the revengeful killing of two white racist men who brutally raped his ten year old daughter named Tonya. Thomas Hobbes’ philosophy is evident in this film because he verified that the responsibility for the security and welfare of all the citizens was in the company of the many who entrusted a sovereign leader (judge). This is shown when the two white supremacists savagely raped and battered the defendant’s innocent daughter, with an unsuccessful attempt of hanging her, thus throwing her unconscious body into a nearby river. These hoodlums were considered to be white supremacists who degraded the black people by calling them “niggers”, along with physically and emotionally mistreating them. Furthermore, these criminals were ignorant and dumb. Hence, Hobbes believed that the rapists were naturally born evil. As a direct result, that is why they committed this heinous act. Not to mention, their racist ideology supported the Klu Klux Klan, believing that white people are superior to all other races. Therefore, they will serve God’s justice, even though it is not morally correct. In summary, this supports Hobbes’ belief that “natural law was little more than a metaphorical justification for the claims of tyrants and that their authority was based on natural law.”

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