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Afterword: Theorists Of The Absolutist State

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Chapter Summary

A focus on the social-contract tradition obscures a coherent line of thought that linked Hobbes with Bodin and Grotius and that even has affinities with the outlook of the contractarians best-known critic. Nineteenth-century thinkers used the term absolutist as a label to describe this stage in state-building by virtue of its characteristic projects of centralization and unification, but absolutism in the sense of unified and unconditional rule was defended only by Hobbes. Lacking a better label, the author simply term them theorists of the absolutist state in view of their shared preoccupation with the historical tasks that now define as characteristic of early-modern European state-building. A focus on theories of the absolutist state directs attention to political subjects more generally, in contrast to the preoccupation with individual consent, interest, and obligation that characterizes contract thinking in time.

Keywords: absolutist state; contract theory; European state-building



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