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.