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The Seat of Sovereignty: Hobbes on the Artificial Person of the Commonwealth or State

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Is sovereignty in Hobbes the power of a person or of an office? This article defends the thesis that it is the latter. The interpretation is based on an analysis of Hobbes’s version of the social contract in Leviathan. Pace Quentin Skinner, it will be argued that the person whom Hobbes calls “sovereign” is not a person but the office of government.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Philosophy, Philosophisches Seminar der Universität Köln, Albertus Magnus Platz, D-50923 Köln, Germany, E-mail:


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