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Hobbes on Tacit Covenants

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Tacit consent theories of political obligation have fallen into disfavor. The difficulties that plague such accounts have been well-known since Hume's "Of the Original Contract"1 and have recently been forcefully reformulated by M. B. E. Smith, A. John Simmons, and Joseph Raz.2 In this article, though, I shall argue that Hobbes' version of the argument from tacit consent escapes the criticisms leveled by Hume, Smith, Simmons, and Raz against tacit consent theories as a class. Crucial to my defense of this claim will be a certain interpretation of Hobbes' account of covenants, an account quite different than that presupposed by the opponents of the argument from tacit consent.

Affiliations: 1: University of Hawaii at Manoa


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