New article: “Are Hobbesian States as Passionate as Hobbesian Individuals?”

Rilla, Jerónimo (2023): Are Hobbesian States as Passionate as Hobbesian Individuals? In: The Review of Politics, 85 (3), pp. 285 – 303.


This article deals with the possibility of ascribing passions to states in Thomas Hobbes’s political theory. According to Hobbes, the condition of sovereign states vis-à-vis one another is comparable to that of individuals in the state of nature, namely, a state of war. Consequently, the three causes of war (competition, diffidence, and glory) identified in chapter 13 of Leviathan could also be relevant to interstate relations. Since these war triggers are mainly passions, one could presume that state action is motivated by passions as well. Some argue that it is just a figurative way of speaking. Others claim that the passions of war affect only sovereign rulers. I explore an alternative answer based on the ability of sovereigns to direct the preexisting passions of their people.