Hobbes and the Question of Power

Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (1):61-85 (2014)
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Thomas Hobbes has been hailed as the philosopher of power par excellence; however, I demonstrate that Hobbes’s conceptualization of political power is not stable across his texts. Once the distinction is made between the authorized and the effective power of the sovereign, it is no longer sufficient simply to defend a doctrine of the authorized power of the sovereign; such a doctrine must be robustly complemented by an account of how the effective power commensurate to this authority might be achieved. Nor is this straightforward: for effective political power can fluctuate, sometimes severely. In this light, the prevalent juridical reading of Hobbes’s political philosophy is inadequate.

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Sandra Leonie Field
Monash University

Citations of this work

Violence and the materiality of power.Torsten Menge - 2022 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 25 (6):761-786.
Hobbes on Power and Gender Relations.Sandra Leonie Field - 2021 - In Marcus P. Adams (ed.), A Companion to Hobbes. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 139–155.
Hobbes on Teleology and Reason.Guido Parietti - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1107-1131.
Hobbes on the power to punish.Mariana Kuhn de Oliveira - 2023 - History of European Ideas 49 (6):959-971.

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References found in this work

The Utopianism of Leviathan.Richard Tuck - 2004 - In Tom Sorell & Luc Foisneau (eds.), Leviathan After 350 Years. Clarendon Press.
Leviathan and De cive.Karl Schuhmann - 2004 - In Tom Sorell & Luc Foisneau (eds.), Leviathan After 350 Years. Clarendon Press.
Conflict, Egoism and Power in Hobbes.Ross Rudolph - 1986 - History of Political Thought 7 (1):73-88.

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