New article: Glory and the Evolution of Hobbes’s Disagreement Theory of War

Arash Abizadeh (2020): Glory and the Evolution of Hobbes’s Disagreement Theory of War: From Elements to Leviathan, in: History of Political Thought, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 265-298

The centrality of glory, contempt and revengefulness to Leviathan’s account of war is highlighted by three contextual features: Hobbes’s displacement of the traditional conception of glory as intrinsically intersubjective and comparative; his incorporation of the Aristotelian view that revengefulness is provoked by expressions of mere contempt; and the evolution of his account between 1640 and 1651. An archeology of Leviathan’s famous Chapter Thirteen confirms that Hobbes’s thesis throughout his career was that disagreement is the universal cause of war because prickly, glory-seeking humans view its expression as a sign of contempt: although Leviathan abandons Hobbes’s previous argument that war is primarily rooted in vainglorious individuals pursuing domination, Leviathan’s ‘glory’ argument for war is a descendent of the older ‘comparison’, not ‘vanity’, argument.

Canadian Philosophical Association 2019 Book Prize: Arash Abizadeh

The Canadian Philosophical Association has announced that Arash Abizadeh (McGill) has won their 2019 Book Prize for his Hobbes and the Two Face of Ethics (Cambridge, 2018). From the jury report:

This is an outstanding book, one of the best books on early modern philosophy in the past 10 years. It exemplifies how history of philosophy should be done these days, combining mastery of Hobbes’s works and a sophisticated use of the conceptual apparatus of contemporary work on metaethics. The book’s main thesis is that Hobbes’s ethics is best understood on the background of Hobbes’s distinction between (prudential) “reasons of the good” and “reasons of the right” (or justice). Whereas the first comprise natural law, the domain of the second are contractual obligations for which we are accountable to others. As Abizadeh demonstrates, this distinction grounds two kinds of normativity, which he examines in detail. The main challenge for any reader of Hobbes is to understand how normativity fits his materialist and mechanist metaphysics. The author argues with great subtlety that Hobbes’s general metaphysical outlook leaves room for non-reductive analysis of normative properties. This sheds an important new light on Hobbes’s naturalism. Along the way, the book deals with related topics in Hobbes’s ethics such as his account of the good and his concept of personhood. No serious scholar of Hobbes and early modern moral philosophy can ignore this book and it should become an instant classic. Contemporary philosophers, especially those working on metaethics, will also benefit.” (Source)

Workshop on Arash Abizadeh’s manuscript

On June 17th, several members of the European Hobbes Society met to discuss a draft of Arash Abizadeh’s important, book-length analysis of Hobbes’s moral philosophy. Abizadeh’s manuscript incisively combines rigorous textual interpretation with powerful philosophical analysis to cast new light on Hobbes’s ethics and meta-ethics. The workshop covered numerous features of the book, from fine details of interpretating Hobbes to broader issues of framing.

We then discussed a draft paper by Signy Gutnick Allen which offers a penetrating analysis of Hobbes’s theory of the right to punish.

Those present, from left to right in the picture above, were Adrian Blau (King’s College London), Elad Carmel (Oxford), Robin Douglass (King’s College London), Deborah Baumgold (Oregon), Arash Abizadeh (McGill), Signy Gutnick Allen (Queen Mary, University of London), and Paul Sagar (Cambridge).