David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Political Theory 36 (6):781-802 (2008)
A well-known part of Hobbes's political theory is his discussion of the inalienability of the right of self-defense. In this article, I present and defend a reinterpretation of Hobbes's account of self-defense. I begin by showing the weaknesses of the standard interpretation of this account: It rests on an implausible thesis about the evil of death; it renders Hobbes's applications of the right of self-defense inexplicable; and it conflicts with Hobbes's claim that there are cases in which the right of self-defense can be given up. I argue that we should understand Hobbes's claim to be that the right of self-defense is inalienable only in the social contract, and I offer a new interpretation of how his argument on this point might go.
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