Bernard Williams is frequently supposed to be an ethical Humean, due especially to his work on ‘internal’ reasons. In fact Williams’s work after his famous article ‘Internal and External Reasons’ constitutes a profound shift away from Hume’s ethical outlook. Whereas Hume offered a reconciling project whereby our ethical practices could be self-validating without reference to external justificatory foundations, Williams’s later work was increasingly skeptical of any such possibility. I conclude by suggesting reasons for thinking Williams was correct, a finding which should be of concern for anybody engaged in the study of ethics.
The aim of this article is to explore some of what Hobbes says in Leviathan about what the Leviathan is. I propose that Hobbes is not finally clear on this score. Nonetheless, such indeterminacy might be revealing, insofar as it points us in different directions regarding how the state can be conceptualized, and what it is thought able to do. The paper is thus deliberately open ended: it does not aim to definitively settle interpretative issues, but rather to use Hobbes as a way of thinking about the differing potentials of state theory.