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Hegel and Hobbes on Institutions and Collective Actions

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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is usually, and rightly, considered the foremost representative of the organistic conception of society. It is only natural to think that his view has nothing in common with the kind of individualistic outlook that dominates our legal and political thinking, and that I myself have tried to defend. I try to show why certain insights of Hegel are potentially important even for individualistic legal and political theories. First, I explicate some of the problems he struggled with, and compare his views with those of Thomas Hobbes. Next, I try to link his views to the modern theories of institutions and of collective action. The antidemocratic ideology expressed in the main works of Hobbes and Hegel is clearly outmoded. Nevertheless, in their criticism of popular sovereignty, they posed some important questions. First, how do collectives like the People exist? Second, what do we mean by saying that collectives perform actions? It seems that, in order to perform an action, an entity ought to possess will. But what does it mean that a collective has a will?
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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