Review of politics

Article: Leviathan No More: The Right of Nature and the Limits of Sovereignty in Hobbes

Christopher R. Hallenbrook: ‘Leviathan No More: The Right of Nature and the Limits of Sovereignty in Hobbes’, The Review of Politics, 78, 2 (2016).

Abstract: This article challenges the prevailing interpretations of Hobbes’s thought as providing only minimal protection for the natural right of individuals in political society. Natural right requires the protection of not just the subjects’ lives, but their ability to live commodiously, and as a result the protection that natural right receives in political society places substantive constraints on the actions of the sovereign. When those entrusted with sovereign power overstep this constraint, they cease to be sovereign and the former subjects are returned to the state of nature to seek protection as each judges fit. I develop the substance of commodious living more thoroughly than similar analyses and demonstrate that this understanding is not limited to Leviathan but can be found in Hobbes’s earlier political work as well.