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THE ELEMENTS AND HOBBESIAN MORAL THINKING

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It is easy to read Hobbes's moral thinking as a deviant contribution to 'modern' natural law, especially if Leviathan (1651) is read through a lens provided by De Cive (1642). But The Elements of Law (1640) encourages the view that Hobbes's argument is 'physicalist', that is, that it requires no premises beyond those required by his physics of matter in motion. The Elements included a draft De Homine and its argument is intimately connected with De Cive's; it shows how such concepts as 'reason', 'right', 'natural law' and 'obligation' can be understood in physicalist terms. But Hobbes's decision to print the latter work in isolation has led to serious misunderstandings

Keywords: De Cive; De Homine; Elements of Law; God; Grotius; Hobbes; Leviathan; Pufendorf; Tuck; moral; natural law; obligation; optics; reason; right; sense; sovereignty; supposition; virtue

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Politics and IR, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2011

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