Hobbes Studies 24 (2):137-157 (2011)

Patricia Sheridan
University of Guelph
The degree to which Hobbes's citizenry retains its right to resist sovereign power has been the source of a significant debate. It has been argued by a number of scholars that there is a clear avenue for legitimate rebellion in Hobbes's state, as described in the Leviathan - in this work, Hobbes asserts that subjects can retain their natural right to self-preservation in civil society, and that this represents an inalienable right that cannot, under any circumstances, be transferred to the sovereign. The conclusion frequently drawn from this feature of Hobbes's account is that it places a considerable limit on sovereign authority. The right to self-preservation has been taken as proof that Hobbes sought to ensure that the sovereign's power relies upon the continual consent of the individuals that make up his or her constituency. I want to examine Hobbes's account of this civil right in Leviathan in order to show that this line of interpretation is ultimately unfounded. While self-preservation results from the individual's own judgment of threats to her personal safety, it is justified in only the most strictly delineated contexts. Judgments regarding the overall peace and security of the state do not, and cannot, fall to individual experiences and judgments. Hobbes is quite adamant that individuals are not appropriate judges of right and wrong action in matters the sovereign legislates
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/187502511X597676
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: 57,138
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Hobbes's Political Theory.Deborah Baumgold - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Hobbes and Individualism.Alan Ryan - 1988 - In G. A. J. Rogers & Alan Ryan (eds.), Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes. Oxford University Press.
The Catching of Leviathan, or the Great Whale.John Bramhall - 1995 - In G. A. J. Rogers, Robert Filmer, George Lawson, John Bramhall & Edward Hyde Clarendon (eds.), Leviathan: Contemporary Responses to the Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes. Thoemmes Press.
Warrender and His Critics.Brian Barry - 1968 - Philosophy 43 (164):117 - 137.
.Donald Rutherford - 1993 - Penn St Univ Pr.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Hobbes on Teleology and Reason.Guido Parietti - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1107-1131.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
95 ( #105,055 of 2,411,720 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #244,463 of 2,411,720 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes