The State of Nature, Social Contract, and Guns

In the wake of yet another mass shooting that left 17 young people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the nation is once again torn apart by suffering and vicious ideological debate about gun ownership in America. In this episode, "The State of Nature, Social Contract, and Guns," Professor Dungey and Walker approach the issue of guns from the deeper historical and philosophical ideas that animate early Modern political theory, and especially the emergence of Liberal Political Philosophy.

We approach the issue of guns from the perspective of Hobbes's State of Nature, his notion of Radical Equality, his penetrating account of Human Vanity, and the role these ideas play in the escape from the State of Nature through the Social Contract. Despite the presence of legal and political institutions, is contemporary America coming to resemble, more and more, Hobbes's terrifying and violent State of Nature?