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Hobbes Against the Jurists: Sovereignty and Artificial Reason

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This paper discusses sovereignty and examines in detail Hobbes’s debates with the two leading legal theorists of his day, Coke and Hale, both Lord Chief Justices of the King’s Bench. I argue that Hobbes came to change his mind somewhat about the desirability of divided sovereignty by the time, near the end of his life, that he wrote the Dialogue. But I also argue that Hobbes should have developed more than a very thin conception of the rule of law. Hobbes should have been more open to the ideas that the jurists of his day were developing, especially the idea that the judiciary should have independent status.

Affiliations: 1: W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy Professor of Law, and Professor of Political Science 2111 West End Ave., Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN 37240, E-mail:


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