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When Hobbes Needed History

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Chapter Summary

The author usually thinks of Thomas Hobbess contract story as pseudonot genuine history. His species of philosophical contractarianism, oriented toward establishing fundamental normative principles, rather than a constitutional contractarian discussion of historical compacts between ruler and ruled. When Hobbes initially framed his theory of politics, prior to the outbreak of the Civil War , the supposition did not need defense. But Parliamentarians subsequent claims to a share in sovereignty , or the entirety of it, changed the agenda. To the extent the theory came to require this historical dimension, it became less an explanation of the structure of sovereignty everywhere and always, and more a contingent account of the constitution of a particular nation-state. The historicity of Hobbess contract arguments has been obscured by his about-face in Leviathans Review and Conclusion.

Keywords: civil war; Hobbesian historical contractarianism; Leviathan



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