Hobbes: Moral and Political Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003)

Authors
Garrath Williams
Lancaster University
Abstract
This encyclopedia entry surveys the moral and political thought of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Hobbes's vision of the world is strikingly original and still relevant to contemporary politics. His main concern is the problem of social and political order: how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and political issue). Otherwise what awaits us is a “state of nature” that closely resembles civil war – a situation of universal insecurity, where all have reason to fear violent death and where rewarding human cooperation is all but impossible.
Keywords Thomas Hobbes  Political philosophy  Moral philosophy
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