Hobbes and the Indirect Workings of Political Consent

In: Hobbes Studies
Laetitia Ramelet Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland,

Search for other papers by Laetitia Ramelet in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This paper brings to light an unexplored aspect of Hobbes’s argument that political authority rests upon subjects’ consent. Consent enacts a transfer of subjects’ right of nature to the sovereign, yet she already possesses a natural right to everything. What moral difference, then, does this make to her possession of power, and how? In my reading, the difference lies in the rise of new obligations befalling the sovereign by means of an indirect mechanism: That many individuals, hoping for safety, transfer their right of nature to the sovereign triggers an obligation for her to accept the role of a ruler and perform the duties attached to it, for the sake of the peace enjoined by the laws of nature. This reading should also confirm the possibility of a consensual foundation for the Hobbesian right to punish and shed new light on Hobbes’s notion of tacit consent.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 755 396 63
Full Text Views 66 25 4
PDF Views & Downloads 188 78 14