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Scholars generally divide into two camps regarding the role of religion in Hobbes's Leviathan. One side claims that the natural-law doctrine of Leviathan cannot work without sincere belief in God, and Leviathan's theology is sincerely intended to support it. The other side insists that the natural-law doctrine is intended to replace religious ethics and that the theology is insincere. This article first considers two arguments for the 'insincere' reading, the strangeness of Hobbes's theology and his use of certain rhetorical devices, and finds them inadequate. It then analyses Hobbes's natural-law doctrine and argues that there is a fatal interpretive flaw in the 'sincere' reading -- no argument can be made consistent with Hobbes's philosophy to show that the natural law of self-preservation is in fact God's law, so his natural-law doctrine cannot rely on God's moral authority as Hobbes claims it does.
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Keywords: Bible; Christianity; Cooke; Curley; Hobbes; Leviathan; Martinich; Skinner; Strauss; Straussian; Taylor; Trinity; Warrender; natural law; obligation; orthodoxy; political theory; religion; rhetoric; voluntarism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 70 SW 91st Ave #205, Plantation, FL 33324, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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