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What the Sovereign Can’t Do

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image of Hobbes Studies

One of the central claims of Larry May’s Limiting Leviathan (Oxford University Press, 2013) is that Hobbes’s theory of law is best understood as a kind of “procedural natural law” theory akin to the one developed by Lon Fuller in the mid-twentieth century. May’s interpretation of Hobbes suggests at least two different views of the role of equity as a constraint on legal validity; neither of them bears any important affinities with Fuller’s theory. May however makes a stronger case that Hobbes and Fuller share broadly similar views about how and why citizens have an obligation to obey the law; the affinities between the two are therefore found in their theories of political obligation rather than in their theories of law.

Affiliations: 1: Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia,


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