New article: ‘On the Absence of Moral Goodness in Hobbes’s Ethics’ by Johan Olsthoorn

Olsthoorn, J. (2020), On the Absence of Moral Goodness in Hobbes’s Ethics, in: J Ethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10892-020-09324-4

Abstract

This article reassesses Hobbes’s place in the history of ethics based on the first systematic analysis of his various classifications of formal goodness. The good was traditionally divided into three: profitably good, pleasurably good, and morally good (bonum honestum). Across his works, Hobbes replaced the last with pulchrum—a decidedly non-moral form of goodness on his account. I argue that Hobbes’s dismissal of moral goodness was informed by his hedonist conception of the good and accompanied by reinterpretations of right reason and natural law. By dispensing moral goodness and insisting on the hedonist and relational nature of the good, Hobbes moreover recast and rendered more urgent the question of why we should be moral. Hobbes is commonly thought to have raised this question so starkly because of his general insensitivity to the demands of justice. My analysis suggests that it may also, or rather, have been due to his restrictive conception of the good. A comparison with other moral philosophers from the period—including Suárez, Gassendi, Locke, and Pufendorf—indicates how unusual Hobbes’s jettisoning of moral goodness was.

New article: ‘Equity and Political Economy in Thomas Hobbes’ by Lee Ward

Ward, L. (2020), Equity and Political Economy in Thomas Hobbes. American Journal of Political Science. doi:10.1111/ajps.12507

Abstract

Thomas Hobbes is often viewed as a seminal figure in the development of the homo economicus philosophical anthropology central to the acquisitive, bourgeois morality of liberal modernity. The present study challenges this interpretation of Hobbes as an antecedent to free market ideology by arguing that his political economy presupposed a complex relation between contract, law, and social networks of credit informed by prudence and robust norms of equity. The normative claims of equity permeate Hobbes’s holistic account of political economy and inform his vision of liberal statecraft that gave priority to prudential judgment against economic determinism, especially as Hobbes understood trade, taxation, allocation of resources, and the provision of social welfare. I will conclude by reflecting upon how Hobbes’s political economy both reveals the internal diversity within the liberal intellectual tradition and can help us to better understand and critique contemporary liberal states and democratic theory.

New article, ‘Hobbes and the Politics of Translation’, by Alicia Steinmetz

Steinmetz, Alicia (2020): Hobbes and the Politics of Translation, in: Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1177/0090591720903393

This essay argues that Hobbes’s work as a translator was fundamental to his mature political philosophy. A proper appreciation for the significance of Hobbes’s lifelong engagement with the politics of translation clarifies both the relationship between Hobbes’s humanist and scientific work, and the meaning of his simultaneous critique and use of rhetoric in his political writings. Against the interpretation held by many scholars that Hobbes simply traded his early humanist interests for his mature political and scientific views, I demonstrate that Hobbes was consistently concerned with the political instability generated by the vernacular translation of classical Greek and Roman texts. In responding to this instability, Hobbes developed his geometrical approach to speech while also, through his analysis of the relationship between translation and metaphor, finding ways to employ humanist rhetorical techniques consistent with this approach. Yet I show that Hobbes continued to rely on translation in areas of speech where he thought science alone could not provide persuasive answers.

New article: ‘Hobbes’s genealogy of private conscience’, by Guido Frilli

Guido Frilli, ‘Hobbes’s genealogy of private conscience’, European Journal of Philosophy, online first

Abstract: This contribution aims at reconstructing Hobbes’s critique of the language of private conscience and at evaluating the relevance of this critique for Hobbes’s political philosophy. Hobbes, I argue, radically subverts the traditional moral‐theological notion of private judgment by turning it into a natural and social fact: conscience becomes nothing more than a shared opinion. This drastic redefinition allows him to condemn the seditious uses of the language of conscience: Hobbes’s criticism of Papists and Presbyterians can be read, I contend, as an attempt at a genealogical analysis of private conscience. Yet, while always constructed by powerful rhetoric, conscience is not insignificant to Hobbes, since it becomes—in a way that neither “liberal” nor “absolutist” readings of Hobbes’s politics have satisfactorily accounted for—the ambivalent dimension of the construction of political consent.

New article: ‘Il concetto di status naturae tra Hobbes e Kant’, by Gianluca Sadun Bordoni

Gianluca Sadun Bordoni, ‘Il concetto di status naturae tra Hobbes e Kant’, Studi Kantiani 32 (2019), pp. 25-46.

Abstract : The Concept of status naturae between Hobbes and Kant ∙ The confrontation with Hobbes is present in Kant’s entire moral thought, as the concept of ‘state of nature’ shows. Although undervalued in Kantian literature, this concept is the constant starting point of Kant’s juridical and political analysis. Kant even thinks that the state of nature in international relations can always affect the internal juridical state, more than Hobbes was prone to admit. But Kant also radicalizes the perspective, by introducing, in addition to the ‘juridical’ state of nature, the concept of an ‘ethical’ state of nature, that – differently from Hobbes – cannot be overcome by political means, not even by man’s moral forces.

New article: ‘Real Unity and Representation in Hobbes, Schmitt, and Barth’, by Sarita Zaffini

Sarita Zaffini, ‘Real Unity and Representation in Hobbes, Schmitt, and Barth’, Polity, online first.

Abstract: Recent Hobbes scholarship argues that legal rationalism is the key to understanding his concept of representation; the commonwealth entails the sum total of the individual wills who compact to create it. But as jurist Carl Schmitt recognized, certain aspects of Hobbes’s famous Leviathan narrative transcend this rationality. He points out that the commonwealth, according to Hobbes, constitutes a “real unity” of the multitude in one Sovereign head rather than a simple aggregation of individuals, suggesting that something supernatural, in addition to legal rationality, undergirds Hobbes’s concept of representation. This article argues that Thomas Hobbes was invoking an alternative, theological notion of representation along with that of legal authorization. The prototype of this theological representation is the relationship of Jesus Christ to the members of his church-body, a familiar image to seventeenth-century English Christians. The work of twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth helps to explain this concept in detail, and, with Schmitt, reveals the continued significance of theological representation for modern politics as well as for religion.

Symposium on Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light, by Devin Stauffer

A Symposium on Devin Stauffer’s Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light: A Study of the Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy, The Review of Politics 82, no. 1 (2020): 123-144.

Paul T. Wilford, ‘Introduction’

Geoffrey M. Vaughan, ‘Hobbes, Aristotle, and the Politics of Metaphysics’

Paul Franco, ‘Hobbes’s Secularism: Pragmatic, Civil-Theologian or Utopian Atheist?’

Ioannis D. Evrigenis, ‘Hobbes: Prophet of the Enlightenment or Justice of the Peace?’

Bryan Garsten, ‘Hobbes and the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns’

Devin Stauffer, ‘Response’

New book: Hobbes’s On the Citizen: A Critical Guide, edited by Douglass & Olsthoorn

Robin Douglass & Johan Olsthoorn (eds.), Hobbes’s On the Citizen: A Critical Guide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

This is the first book-length study in English of Thomas Hobbes’s On the Citizen. It aims to show that On the Citizen is a valuable and distinctive philosophical work in its own right, and not merely a stepping-stone toward the more famous Leviathan. The volume comprises twelve original essays, written by leading Hobbes scholars, which explore the most important themes of the text: Hobbes’s accounts of human nature, moral motivation, and political obligation; his theories of property, sovereignty, and the state; and, finally, his ideas on the relation between secular and ecclesiastical authority, and the politics behind his religious ideas. Taken together, the essays bring to light many distinctive aspects of Hobbes’s thought that are often concealed by the prevailing focus on Leviathan, making for a richer and more nuanced picture of his moral, legal, and political philosophy.

Contents

‘Introduction’, Robin Douglass and Johan Olsthoorn
1. ‘Excavating On the Citizen’, Deborah Baumgold and Ryan Harding
2. ‘Hobbes and Aristotle on the foundation of political science’, Nicholas Gooding and Kinch Hoekstra
3. ‘All the mind’s pleasure: glory, self-admiration, and moral motivation in On the Citizen and Leviathan’, S. A. Lloyd
4. ‘The right of nature and political disobedience: Hobbes’s puzzling thought experiment’, Susanne Sreedhar
5. ‘Motivation, reason, and the good in On the Citizen’, Michael LeBuffe
6. ‘Property and despotic sovereignty’, Laurens van Apeldoorn
7. ‘Sovereignty and dominium: the foundations of Hobbesian statehood’, Daniel Lee
8. ‘Corporate persons without authorization’, Michael J. Green
9. ‘Hobbes on love and fear of God’, Thomas Holden
10. ‘’A rhapsody of heresies’: the scriptural politics of On the Citizen’, Alison McQueen
11. ‘On the Citizen and church-state relations’, Johann Sommerville
12. ‘Sovereign-making and biblical covenants in On the Citizen’, A. P. Martinich

New article: ‘From soul to mind in Hobbes’s The Elements of Law’, by Alexandra Chadwick

Alexandra Chadwick, ‘From soul to mind in Hobbes’s The Elements of Law, History of European Ideas, online first.

Abstract: This paper examines the significance and originality of Hobbes’s use of ‘mind’, rather than ‘soul’, in his writings on human nature. To this end, his terminology in the discussion of the ‘faculties of the mind’ in The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic (1640) is considered in the context of English-language accounts of the ‘faculties of the soul’ in three widely-read works from the first half of the seventeenth century: Thomas Wright’s The Passions of the Minde in Generall (1604), Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), and Edward Reynolds’s A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soule of Man (1640). For Hobbes’s contemporaries, man’s soul conveyed God-like powers to human beings; for Hobbes this is a dangerous idea. Accordingly, he establishes a sharp divide between ‘soul’ and ‘mind’, understanding the two terms to be concerned with two very different things: one with soteriology, the other with mental abilities. Like his contemporaries, Hobbes thought that understanding the faculties reveals the way to live a good life. But unlike them, his moral and political philosophy relies on citizens accepting that they are not like God, rather than looking to restore the ‘divine’ within themselves.

New book: Hobbesian Internationalism, by Silviya Lechner

Silviya Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism: Anarchy, Authority and the Fate of Political Philosophy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

This book sets out to re-examine the foundations of Thomas Hobbes’s political philosophy, and to develop a Hobbesian normative theory of international relations. Its central thesis is that two concepts – anarchy and authority – constitute the core of Hobbes’s political philosophy whose aim is to justify the state. The Hobbesian state is a type of authority (juridical, public, coercive, and supreme) which emerges under conditions of anarchy (‘state of nature’). A state-of-nature argument makes a difference because it justifies authority without appeal to moral obligation. The book shows that the closest analogue of a Hobbesian authority in international relations is Kant’s confederation of free states, where states enjoy ‘anarchical’ (equal) freedom. At present, this crucial form of freedom is being threatened by economic processes of globalisation, and by the resurgence of private authority across state borders.