Ilaria Cozzaglio & Amanda R. Greene, ‘Can power be self‐legitimating? Political realism in Hobbes, Weber, and Williams’, European Journal of Philosophy, online first.
Abstract: Political realists seek to provide an alternative to accounts of political legitimacy that are based on moral standards. In this endeavor, they face the challenge of how to interpret the maxim that power cannot be self‐legitimating. In this paper, we argue that work by Bernard Williams sheds light on the possible answers to this challenge. While Williams aligns himself with the realist tradition, his account of legitimacy contains an implicit critique of political realism. This is evident, we show, in his rejections of the views of Thomas Hobbes and Max Weber. Williams is not satisfied with Hobbes because he conflates legitimacy and political order, eliminating space for criticizing power. Weber’s view, however, offers a non‐moralist standard of legitimacy that has critical purchase. This critical purchase emerges from the demands made on rulers to uphold the values that underlie their legitimation, combined with the ethic of responsibility. The resulting grounds for criticism are thus consistent with the maxim that power cannot be self‐legitimating—the very maxim that Williams puts at the heart of his realism. By showing that Williams’s partial rejection of Hobbes and Weber cannot be sustained only on realist grounds, our analysis clarifies the limits of political realism.
Adrian Blau, ‘Hobbes’s Practical Politics: Political, Sociological and Economistic Ways of Avoiding a State of Nature’, Hobbes Studies, online first.
Abstract: This paper offers a systematic analysis of Hobbes’s practicalpolitical thought. Hobbes’s abstract philosophy is rightly celebrated, but he also gave much practical advice on how to avoid disorder. Yet he is typically interpreted too narrowly in this respect, especially by those who only read him economistically. Other scholars supplement this economistic focus with sociological or political interpretations, but to my knowledge, no one stresses all three aspects of his thought. This paper thus examines each of Hobbes’s practical proposals for avoiding corruption and a state of nature. Hobbes clearly uses economistic, sociological and political approaches, which involve shaping incentives, desires/preferences, and opportunities, respectively. This intentionally anachronistic framework helps us see further, highlighting Hobbes’s rich and wide-ranging practical proposals for avoiding disorder – a crucial part of his theory.
Christopher Holman, ‘Hobbes and the Tragedy of Democracy’, History of Political Thought, vol. 40, no. 4 (2019), pp. 649-75.
Abstract: This article reconsiders Thomas Hobbes’s critique of the democratic sovereign form from the standpoint of what it identifies as the latter’s most important ontological conditions: the lack of a transcendent source of fundamental law, and a natural human equality that renders all individuals competent to participate in legislative modes. For Hobbes these two conditions combine to render democracy a tragic regime. Democracy is tragic to the extent that it must be a regime of self-limitation, there existing no ethical standard external to society that may intervene so as to guide our political self-activity, and yet the structure of deliberation in democratic assemblies tends to render such self-limitation impossible. Hence what Hobbes sees as the inherent tendency of democratic activity to descend into excess and madness. This risk is an intrinsic potentiality embedded within democracy’s very conditions, a fact covered up by much post-Hobbesian liberal democratic theory that attempts to normatively ground the democratic form in various universal principles of natural law or right.
Susanne Sreedhar, ‘The Curious Case of Hobbes’s Amazons’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 57, no. 4 (Oct. 2019), pp. 621-46.
Abstract: Hobbes’s philosophy involves a fundamental shift in ideas about the theological, metaphysical, and axiological significance of sex, gender, reproduction, and the family. He fundamentally rejects the idea that dominion is naturally or divinely ordained, using a strategy I call ‘dethroning.’ In this paper, I argue that the Amazon myth, which Hobbes invokes in every version of his political theory, is one such act of rhetorical dethroning in that it attacks naturalized familial and gender hierarchies, denying natural parent/child, as well as husband/wife, relations of rule and subordination. Substantive discussions of Hobbes’s use of the Amazons in the secondary literature are few and consist of contradictory understandings of the example, with some seeing it as a prototype of early feminism and others seeing it as a retrenchment of misogyny and racism. I use my interpretation, one that makes sense of the example by reference to the internal logic of Hobbes’s overall philosophical and political project, in order to examine both sides of this debate.
Gianni Paganini, ‘Hobbes, the “Natural Seeds” of Religion and French Libertine Discourse’
Stewart Duncan, ‘Hobbes on the Signification of Evaluative Language’
J. Matthew Hope, ‘Natural Justice, Law, and Virtue in Hobbes’s Leviathan’
Eleanor Curran, ‘Hobbesian Sovereignty and the Rights of Subjects’
Frank Lovett, ‘Hobbes’s Reply to the Fool and the Prudence of Self-Binding’
R.J.W. Mills, ‘Hobbes on Politics and Religion, edited by Laurens van Apeldoorn and Robin Douglass
Paul Sagar, ‘Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics, written by Arash Abizadeh’
A mini-workshop on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes will be held at the University of Amsterdam (Roeterseilandcampus B1.02) on Wednesday 20 November 2019:
13:00-14:15 Johan Olsthoorn (Amsterdam) – ‘Hobbes on the Rights of War’
14:20-15:35 Alexandra Chadwick (Groningen) – ‘Hobbes on the Nature of Man and the Nature of Politics’
15:40-16:55 Alan Nelson (UNC, Chapel Hill) – ‘Leviathan as Science and Why That Matters’
For more information, please contact Eric Schliesser (E.S.Schliesser@uva.nl)