Evrigenis, Ioannis D. (2021): In praise of dystopias: a Hobbesian approach to collective action, in: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, https://doi.org/10.1080/13698230.2021.1893249
Long before Prospect Theory and Loss Aversion Theory, Thomas Hobbes’s account of self-interest and risk assessment formed the basis of a powerful argument for the benefits of negative appeals. Dismissing the pursuit of highest and final goods as inherently incapable of yielding collective action, Hobbes proposed a method focusing instead on the highest evil, something that individuals with different goals could agree on as a barrier to their respective pursuits. In his own theory, that evil was violent death in the dystopian setting of his notorious state of nature. The staying power of Hobbes’s memorable image itself validates Hobbes’s rationale and offers important reminders regarding the limits of utopian appeals to collective action.