Similarities and Differences: State of Nature of Individuals and States

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

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The first similarity is that there are actors of only one kind: the relevant actors are individuals. In both cases, they have more or less equal powers. Obviously, this is not true in terms of countries, but anyone can harm another. They are dependent on each other. In both cases, you cannot trust the behavior of others. In fear of being killed, it is either kill or be killed: the most rational action is to kill first. The fifth similarity is that good and evil come after the social contract. International politics and relations are amoral: they lack morals.


There are three different ways to contemplate the relation between morals and war. The first one would be realism: states have the right to start war whenever they want, inter-state wars are always legitimate. In the second hand, we have radical pacifism: war is never legitimate. This vision is not very common in international relations. In the last place, we have Just War Theory (JWT): war is sometimes legitimate. The majority of the authors stand in this position. These distinguish which type of war is legitimate and which is not. This theory is the only one that makes a distinction between different types of war.

The first big difference is that between individuals there is a possibility of making a social contract, unlike states in the state of nature. Secondly, life is much more livable in the state of nature between states than in the state of nature between individuals. In the third place, the lives of states are not as fearful as those of individuals: there is less fear of being harmed. Finally, the creation of a social contract between states implies the disappearance of states, unlike individuals. If individuals make a social contract, they do not cease to exist.

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