Pluralism and the Hobbesian logic of negative constitutionalism

Political Studies 47 (1):83-99 (1999)

Duncan Ivison
University of Sydney
According to an essentially Hobbesian account of political order, the claims of cultural and national minorities within a state to some form of constitutional or institutional recognition are morally suspect and politically undesirable. Underlying this Hobbesian logic is a particular understanding of the relation between law and politics. `Negative constitutionalism' is focused primarily on limiting the damage government can do. However the pursuit of constitutional minimalism runs up against the challenges presented by deeply diverse political communities. By investigating the manner in which Hobbes has been invoked in arguments concerning the relation between the rule of law and the `politics of recognition', I argue (i) that the distinction between the rule of law and politics is fundamentally unstable, and (ii) that in invoking Hobbes, modern theorists have missed an important element of Hobbes's own argument ± namely, his appreciation of this instability. As an example, I examine the way Hobbes is used in some of John Gray's recent writings on pluralism and liberalism.
Keywords Hobbes  Liberty  Constitutionalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,901
External links

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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #813,910 of 2,439,024 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #434,440 of 2,439,024 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes