Hobbes, Kant, and the Universal ‘right to all things’, or Why We Have to Leave the State of Nature

In: Hobbes Studies
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne

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This paper discusses the juridical interpretation of Hobbes’s state of nature argument, which has been defended by commentators such as Georg Geismann, Dieter Hüning or Peter Schröder. According to the juridical interpretation, the primary reason why the Hobbesian state of nature needs to be abandoned is not that everybody’s self-preservation is constantly threatened. It is that, due to the universal right to all things, the jural order of the state of nature includes some kind of logical contradiction. The purpose of the paper is to show that the juridical interpretation does not do justice to Hobbes’s actual argument and that it starts from a false presupposition: being a Hohfeldian ‘liberty-right’, the right to all things can consistently be granted to all individuals at the same time.

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