Is Hobbes Really an Antirealist about Accidents?

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 14 (2):11-25 (2018)
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In Metaphysical Themes, Robert Pasnau interprets Thomas Hobbes as an anti-realist about all accidents in general. In opposition to Pasnau, we argue that Hobbes is a realist about some accidents (e.g., motion and magnitude). Section One presents Pasnau’s position on Hobbes; namely, that Hobbes is an unqualified anti-realist of the eliminativist sort. Section Two offers reasons to reject Pasnau’s interpretation. Hobbes explains that magnitude is mind-independent, and he offers an account of perception in terms of motion (understood as a mind-independent feature of body). Therefore, it seems incorrect to call Hobbes an anti-realist about all accidents. Section Three considers Pasnau’s hypothetical response: he might claim that for Hobbes, motion reduces to body and does not exist in its own right. Section Four notes that reductionism about all accidents does not entail anti-realism about all accidents. Even granting Pasnau’s anticipated response, his anti-realist reading does not follow. Contra Pasnau, Hobbes is best understood as claiming that motion and magnitude exist mind-independently.



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Sahar Joakim
St. Louis Community College, Meramec

References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - New York: Harmondsworth, Penguin. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 2006 - In Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671.Robert Pasnau - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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