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Rethinking Political Thinkers

Rethinking Political Thinkers (1st edn)

Manjeet Ramgotra and Simon Choat
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 78p. 795. Thomas Hobbeslocked

p. 78p. 795. Thomas Hobbeslocked

  • Signy Gutnick Allen


This chapter discusses the ideas of Thomas Hobbes, focusing on his account provided in Leviathan (1651). By emphasizing the importance of centralized state power underpinned by individuals’ consent, the Hobbesian approach to politics highlights a set of key questions. What does it mean to be a citizen? What are the grounds, nature, and limits of political authority and obligation? The chapter begins by outlining Hobbes’s presentation of the state of nature, natural right, and the laws of nature, linking his analysis to his materialist science. It then turns to Hobbes’s explanation of the origins of the state and explores his argument that the political relationship is fundamentally representative. The chapter also explains his understanding of sovereignty, as well as his theory of inalienable rights. Finally, it examines the possibility that this retained right is the seed of a right to rebel against the sovereign, before considering Hobbes’s legacy.

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