Hobbes's Theory of Rights – A Modern Interest Theory
Author: Curran, E.
Source: The Journal of Ethics, Volume 6, Number 1, 2002 , pp. 63-86(24)
Abstract:The received view in Thomas Hobbes scholarship is that the individual rights described by Hobbes in his political writings and specifically in Leviathan are simple freedoms or liberty rights, that is, rights that are not correlated with duties or obligations on the part of others. In other words, it is usually argued that there are no claim rights for individuals in Hobbes's political theory. This paper argues, against that view, that Hobbes does describe claim rights, that they come into being when individuals conform to the second law of nature and that they are genuine moral claim rights, that is, rights that are the ground of the obligations of others to forebear from interfering with their exercise. This argument is defended against both Jean Hampton's and Howard Warrender's interpretations of rights in Hobbes's theory. The paper concludes that the theory of rights underlying Hobbes's writing is not taken from Natural Law but is probably closer to a modern interest theory of rights.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Department of Law, University of Keele, Keele, UK, E-mail: email@example.com
Publication date: January 1, 2002