Thomas Hobbes and the Ethics of Freedom


Authors
Tom Pink
King's College London
Abstract
Abstract Freedom in the sense of free will is a multiway power to do any one of a number of things, leaving it up to us which one of a range of options by way of action we perform. What are the ethical implications of our possession of such a power? The paper examines the pre-Hobbesian scholastic view of writers such as Peter Lombard and Francisco Suárez: freedom as a multiway power is linked to the right to liberty understood as a right to exercise that power, and to liberation as a desirable goal involving the perfection of that power. Freedom as a power, liberty as a right, and liberation as a desirable goal, are all linked within this scholastic view to a distinctive theory of law as constituting, in its primary form of natural law, the normative recognition of human freedom. Hobbes's denial of the very existence of freedom as a power led him to a radical revision both of the theory of law and of the relation of law to liberty. Law and liberty were no longer harmonious phenomena, but were left in essential conflict. One legacy of Hobbes is the attempt to base a theory of law and liberty not on freedom as a multiway power, but on rationality. Instead of an ethics of freedom, we have an ethics of reason as involving autonomy. The paper expresses some scepticism about the prospects for such an appeal to reason as a replacement for multiway freedom
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/0020174X.2011.608886
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,386
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

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - Oxford University Press.
Utilitarianism.John Stuart Mill - 1863 - Cleveland: Cambridge University Press.
Punishment and Responsibility.H. L. A. Hart - 1968 - Philosophy 45 (172):162-162.
Normativity and Reason.Thomas Pink - 2007 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3):406-431.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Anne Conway and Henry More on Freedom.Jonathan Head - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (5):631-648.
The Role of the Holy Will.John J. Callanan - 2014 - Hegel Bulletin 35 (2):163-184.
Kant on the Spontaneous Power of the Mind.John J. Callanan - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (3):565-588.
Power, Scepticism and Ethical Theory.Thomas Pink - 2015 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 76:225-251.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Liberty and Leviathan.Philip Pettit - 2005 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (1):131-151.
Thomas Reid on Freedom and Morality.William ROWE - 1991 - Cornell University Press.
Power and Moral Responsibility.Thomas Pink - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):127 – 149.
The Problem of Freedom.Mary T. Clark (ed.) - 1973 - New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Freedom as Motion.Leslie D. Feldman - 1997 - Journal of Philosophical Research 22:229-243.
What Freedom Is.Wells Earl Draughon - 2003 - Writer's Showcase.
Thomas Reid on Active Power and Free Agency.Xiangdong Xu - 2011 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (3):369-389.
Freedom, Liberty, and Property.Jonathan Wolff - 1997 - Critical Review 11 (3):345-357.
Overcoming Metaphysics: Elias and Foucault on Power and Freedom.Ian Burkitt - 1993 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 23 (1):50-72.
Liberty, Autonomy, and Kant's Civil Society.Chris W. Surprenant - 2010 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (1).

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-09-09

Total views
79 ( #105,266 of 2,271,927 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #324,857 of 2,271,927 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature