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Hobbes’s And Locke’s Contract Theories: Political Not Metaphysical

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a close examination of the logic leading to Hobbes's and Locke's main political conclusions. It shows how the political conclusions of both contract theories depend, albeit in different ways, on introducing facts about the historic English monarchy. The chapter also argues that seventeenth-century contract theory is more accurately periodized as an ancien-regime genre than as a modern one. Beneath the apparent continuity between contract theory and modern representative democracy lurks a deeper discontinuity. Hobbess and Lockes contract theory address questions specific to the politics of hereditary monarchy, namely the questions of whether and when it could be permissible to resist a legitimate ruler.

Keywords: ancien-regime genre; contract theory; John Locke; political theory; Thomas Hobbes



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