Thomas Hobbes was a great philosopher whose contribution to ethical theory remains outstanding till this day. His main theory was the ethical egoism which he developed from Max Stirner's concepts of egoism. According to Thomas, the specific conflicts arising whenever each person pursues his own ends is something that can only be resolved for the best practice of every individual. However, this can only be realized if all people decided to voluntarily forgo all their aims in life (Hobbes 12). What he meant was that, a person's self-interests are often best when pursued in such a way that they permit others to as well pursue their own self-interests. This has to be done at people's liberty and equality among all individuals.
Thomas Hobbes went ahead to explain how sacrificing one's long-term and short-term interests in order to maximize the long-lasting self-interests is the best form of what is known as rational self-interest. This is the major idea behind majority of philosophers' ethical egoism and advocacy of moral egoism. Another important thing is that Hobbes argued that the actual desires and interests of an individual are usually not immediately obvious (Hobbes 17). That being the case, the pursuit of such self-interest will have to involve a lot than the simple acquisition of some kind of good chances of survival for all. What Thomas Hobbes meant was that, every personal pursuit should be applied such that maximizes a person's chances of survival and happiness. Another important thing is that the ethical egoism is further divided into universal, personal and individual egoism. For instance, an individual egoist will argue that all people should act in the best manner to benefit themselves while a universal egoist will argue that every individual is expected to act in different ways that are within their interests.
The ethical theories postulated by Thomas Hobbes have been widely applied in our modern world to define how people should pursue the things that matter the most in their own lives. Many philosophers have gone ahead to come up with new egoism theories as part of human ethics and morality. However, it is agreeable that Thomas' theory of egoism is opposed by many individuals because it lacks any ethical aspects in it (Hobbes 24). However, this kind of criticism has not weakened the strengths of the theory as proposed and explained by Hobbes. Another important thing to mention is that Thomas Hobbes went ahead to explain his views on social contract and the major two states of human life. These have been widely revisited by scholars such as Rousseau. Such theories have therefore been relevant in defining the manner in which people interact amongst themselves and with the state.
The other philosopher who contributed a lot to ethical theories is David Hume. David was a great Scottish philosopher, essayist and an economist. He is famed for his philosophical skepticism and empiricism. David Hume is a major figure who contributed to human ethics and moral justice (Hume 13). Hume's ethical theory is studied even today in schools as a foundation through which human relationships are defined. His ethical theory is based mainly on human action and motivation as the major building blocks through which behavior and people's interaction can be monitored. From his own viewpoint, David Hume conceived ethical and moral sentiments to be something intrinsically motivating. It is through such theory and view that David Hume viewed moral and ethical sentiments as the sole providers of action and reason. Such actions are therefore what govern human interaction, behavior and co-existence.
According to Hume's views, a person could not be motivated or led by reason alone. Therefore, there is the need to have the input of human passions. It is through such argument that David Hume argued that human 'reason' cannot be the thing behind morality and ethics. The philosopher believed that morals can excite passions, and prevent or even produce actions (Hume 18). That being the situation, reason alone is something utterly impotent. The rules of ethics and morality, accordingly to the philosopher, can never be conclusions of human reason. Another spectacular thing about Hume is his sentimental sentimentalism about ethics and morality that was altered by Adam Smith, one of his close friends. Such views are currently applied and adopted in our modern society to influence and inspire specific forms of error theory, emotivism, non-congnitivism and thical expressivism. Therefore Hume's theory of ethics is useful and influential in our present day ethical and moral theories.
From the above discussions, it is notable that Thomas Hobbes concentrated much on ethical egoism as the central argument of his theory. However, he went ahead to discuss issues related to social contract and human relationships and co-existence with the state. This contribution is presently appreciated by a great number of modern philosophers and scholars of ethics (Hume 22). On the other hand, David Hume's ethical theory revolved around human ethics and moral justice. He believed that people should have moral guidelines which influence their interactions with one another. The realization of moral and ethical sentiments, according to David Hume, can motivate the best practices thereby impacting on the way people reason. Despite their different views and approaches to ethics, both David Hume and Thomas Hobbes contributed a lot to the field of ethical theories.