Nature and Artifice in Hobbes’s International Political Thought

in Hobbes Studies
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This article argues that the artificiality of Hobbesian states facilitates their coexistence and eventual reconciliation. In particular, it is suggested that international relations may be characterised by an artificial equality, which has a contrary effect to the natural equality of human beings. Unlike individuals in Hobbes’s account of the state of nature, sovereigns are not compelled to wage war out of fear and distrust, but have prudential reasons to exercise self-restraint. Ultimately rulers serve as disposable figureheads who can be replaced by a foreign invader. Thus, this article highlights the implications of Hobbes’s views on sovereignty by acquisition, which allow for states to be decomposed and reassembled in order to re-establish lasting peace. It is concluded that these findings help to explain why Hobbes does not provide something akin to modern theories of international relations, as foreign affairs appear to be reducible to a matter of either prudence or political philosophy.

Nature and Artifice in Hobbes’s International Political Thought

in Hobbes Studies

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References

3

 See for instance Noel MalcolmAspects of Hobbes (Oxford: Clarendon Press2002) pp. 432–456; and Gabriella Slomp “The Politics of Motion and the Motion of Politics” in Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Slomp (eds.) International Political Theory After Hobbes: Analysis Interpretation and Orientation (Basingstoke uk: Palgrave Macmillan 2010) pp. 19–41.

5

David Boucher“Resurrecting Pufendorf and Capturing the Westphalian Moment”Review of International Studies 27 (2001) pp. 557–577 here 567.

10

HobbesLeviathan p. 80.

15

HobbesLeviathan p. 77 n. 7.

16

HobbesLeviathan p. 126. Cf. “Dialogue” p. 16.

17

HobbesLeviathan p. 126. Cf. n. 10 on the same page for a translation of the Latin version of this passage where Hobbes additionally mentions that oppressive government could be caused by the subjects’ unwillingness to adapt to change.

18

HobbesLeviathan p. 131.

25

HobbesLeviathan109.

28

David RuncimanPluralism and the Personality of the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1997) p. 17.

31

HobbesLeviathan p. 158.

32

HobbesBehemoth p. 169.

34

HobbesLeviathan p. 107.

36

Hobbes“Dialogue” p. 138.

38

HobbesLeviathan p. 144.

41

HobbesBehemoth p. 163. Through the interlocutor’s voice Hobbes blames the misery caused by this war on the influence of religious doctrines.

44

HobbesBehemoth p. 133.

45

HobbesLeviathan p. 490.

46

HobbesLeviathan p. 74.

48

David Boucher“Inter-Community & International Relations in the Political Philosophy of Hobbes”Polity 23 (1990) pp. 207–232 here 226f.

52

HobbesLeviathan p. 78.

55

HobbesLeviathan p. 107 emphasis added. Cf. Leviathan p. 132.

56

HobbesLeviathan p. 107.

57

Hobbes“Dialogue” p. 12 capitalisation in the original.

61

HobbesLeviathan p. 121.

65

HobbesLeviathan p. 160.

66

HobbesLeviathan p. 164.

68

HobbesLeviathan p. 164.

71

HobbesLeviathan p. 107.

73

HobbesLeviathan p. 218.

74

Hobbes“Dialogue” p. 16 capitalisation in the original.

77

HobbesLeviathan p. 58.

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