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The despotical doctrine of Hobbes, part I: the liberalization of Leviathan

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At least from Bentham's time, the dominant interpretive approaches to Hobbes's Leviathan have tended to soften and blur the despotic message of that book. Writers of otherwise very different persuasions and pursuing very different intellectual agendas have sought to soften the way Hobbes's political theory has been understood. In the effort to insulate and preserve obviously valuable aspects of that theory, the elements of tyranny so significant to the text of Leviathan have been ignored, distorted, obscured and denied. The upshot has been to portray Hobbes as no more than a harmless proto-liberal.
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Keywords: C.E. Vaughan; David Gauthier; Deborah Baumgold; Gregory Kavka; Jean Hampton; John Bowle; Leviathan; Michael Oakeshott; Quentin Skinner; Sheldon Wolin; Thomas Hobbes; absolutism; contractarianism; despotic theory; liberal theory; political philosophy; political theory; rehabilitating Hobbes; sovereignty; utilitarianism and Hobbes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, The University at Albany, Albany NY.. Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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