A tale of two commonwealths: Authorization, empowerment and tyranny in Hobbes's leviathan
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Two, ostensibly different, versions of the social contract appear in Hobbes’s Leviathan, a commonwealth by institution and one by acquisition. These versions unexpectedly converge in chapter 20 with his remarkable claim that both commonwealths have the same rights and consequences of sovereignty. I argue that the first of these versions gives rise to a disjunction that logically commits Hobbes to either an impotent state or a Thrasymachean styled tyranny. After this, I describehow he tries to distance himself from the unsettling implications of this disjunction by conflating two importantly different ideas, authorization and empowerment. Next, I explain how this conflation undermines his empowerment thesis for the first version, a difficulty further compounded by the failure of the jus naturalis to supply a normative foundation for this form of commonwealth. I then briefly detail his account of the second version and explain why a Thrasymachean styled tyranny emerges as the only possibility in a commonwealth by acquisition. Finally, after conceding a measure of plausibility to his claim of equivalency for his two forms of commonwealth, I conclude that Hobbes’s commitment to a coalescence of his two versions in chapter 20 effectively transforms his theory of a social contract into a defense of tyranny
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Earl of Clarendon Edward (1995). A Survey of Mr Hobbes His Leviathan. In G. A. J. Rogers, Robert Filmer, George Lawson, John Bramhall & Edward Hyde Clarendon (eds.), Leviathan: Contemporary Responses to the Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes. Thoemmes Press.
Arto Tukiainen (1994). The Commonwealth as a Person in Hobbes's Leviathan. Hobbes Studies 7 (1):44-55.
Stewart Duncan (2005). Knowledge of God in Leviathan. History of Philosophy Quarterly 22 (1):31-48.
Thomas Hobbes (2008). Leviathan, or, the Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil. Touchstone.
Severin V. Kitanov (2012). Happiness in a Mechanistic Universe: Thomas Hobbes on the Nature and Attainability of Happiness. Hobbes Studies 24 (2):117-136.
Naomi Sussmann (2010). How Many Commonwealths Can Leviathan Swallow? Covenant, Sovereign and People in Hobbes's Political Theory? British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (4):575-596.
Helen Thornton (2005). State of Nature or Eden?: Thomas Hobbes and His Contemporaries on the Natural Condition of Human Beings. University of Rochester Press.
Matthias Kiesselbach (2011). Hobbes's Struggle with Contractual Obligation. On the Status of the Laws of Nature in Hobbes's Work. Hobbes Studies 23 (2):105-123.
Vernon Thomas Sarver (2007). A Tale of Two Commonwealths. Journal of Philosophical Research 32:269-291.
Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
Added to index2009-01-28
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?