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Reconsidering Hobbes’s Account of Practical Deliberation *

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Thomas Hobbes has been frequently criticised for his account of deliberation that purportedly consists merely of, in his own words, an ‘alternate succession of appetite and fear’ and therefore lacks the judgement and reflection commentators think is essential if he is to provide an adequate treatment of practical rationality. In this paper Hobbes’s account of deliberation is analysed in detail and it is argued that it is not vulnerable to this critique. Hobbes takes so-called ‘mental discourse’ to be partly constitutive of the process of practical deliberation, and this provides the cognitive judgement and reflection that critics have claimed it lacks.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, Leiden University College, Leiden University P.O. Box 13228, 2501 EE The Hague, Netherlands, E-mail:


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