Hobbes’ Reply to the fool

David Gilboa
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
In chapter XV of Leviathan, Hobbes states that the third law of nature is "that men perform their covenants made". Following this statement, Hobbes has an imaginary person called "the fool" make an objection to the third law of nature, by claiming that covenant-keeping may turn out to be an irrational action. In his reply to the fool, Hobbes insists that covenant-keeping is a rational action, but his arguments are not clear. In two recent outstanding works on Hobbes’ moral and political thought, Gregory Kavka and Jean Hampton independently attempt to reconstruct Hobbes’ reply to the fool. In this paper, I criticise the arguments of both Kavka and Hampton, but, nevertheless, I argue that it is correct for Hobbes to insist that covenant-keeping is a rational action
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