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Table of contents :
A Note on Sources and Abbreviations......Page 12
Part I Authority......Page 14
1.1 The Justification of the State......Page 15
1.2 Beyond Realism? Hobbesian Internationalism......Page 20
1.3 The Significance of State-of-Nature Arguments......Page 21
1.4 Method of Interpretation......Page 24
1.5 Structure of the Book......Page 26
2 Authority and the Problem of Political Philosophy......Page 32
2.1 Authority and the State: The Contemporary Debate......Page 33
The Normative Structure of Covenant......Page 39
2.3 Conclusion......Page 50
Part II Anarchy......Page 54
3 The State of Nature in The Elements......Page 55
3.1 The Passions in The Elements......Page 56
3.2 Vainglory......Page 57
3.3 Fear of Death......Page 60
3.4 The Right of Nature......Page 61
Uncertainty and Language......Page 64
3.6 Conclusion......Page 71
4.1 De Cive and Hobbes’s System of Philosophy......Page 74
Mutual Fear and the State of War......Page 75
The Right of Nature in Relation to the Laws of Nature......Page 80
The Character of Hobbesian Obligation: Natural Versus Artificial......Page 83
4.5 Conclusion......Page 88
5 The State of Nature in Leviathan......Page 92
Trust and Mistrust......Page 98
The Right of Nature and the Laws of Nature......Page 103
5.4 Language and Uncertainty......Page 112
5.5 Conclusion......Page 114
Part III Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations......Page 117
6 Hobbes and the International Anarchy......Page 118
The State Versus Alternative Security Alliances......Page 119
6.2 The International State of War: The Realist Model......Page 126
The International State of Nature as a Prototype of the Domestic State of Nature......Page 132
6.4 A Global State Model......Page 137
6.5 Conclusion......Page 140
7 Hobbesian Internationalism: Hobbes Meets Kant......Page 145
7.1 Hobbes and Kant on Freedom and Rights in the State of Nature......Page 147
7.2 Kant: The Necessity of Leaving the State of Nature......Page 152
7.3 The State as a Public Coercive Authority......Page 155
7.4 Towards an International Authority......Page 157
7.5 Justifying International Authority: Coercion and Sovereignty......Page 163
7.6 Conclusion......Page 167
8 Challenges: Globalisation and the Resurgence of Private Authority......Page 172
Government Networks......Page 174
Private Military and Security Companies in a Global Context......Page 180
The Hobbesian State......Page 184
A Global Public Realm: Back to Hobbesian Internationalism?......Page 188
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL THEORY SERIES EDITOR: GARY BROWNING
Hobbesian Internationalism Anarchy, Authority and the Fate of Political Philosophy Silviya Lechner
International Political Theory Series Editor Gary Browning Oxford Brookes University Oxford, UK
The Palgrave International Political Theory Series provides students and scholars with cutting-edge scholarship that explores the ways in which we theorise the international. Political theory has by tradition implicitly accepted the bounds of the state, and this series of intellectually rigorous and innovative monographs and edited volumes takes the discipline forward, reflecting both the burgeoning of IR as a discipline and the concurrent internationalisation of traditional political theory issues and concepts. Offering a wide-ranging examination of how International Politics is to be interpreted, the titles in the series thus bridge the IR-political theory divide. The aim of the series is to explore international issues in analytic, historical and radical ways that complement and extend common forms of conceiving international relations such as realism, liberalism and constructivism. More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/14842
Hobbesian Internationalism Anarchy, Authority and the Fate of Political Philosophy
Silviya Lechner Department of War Studies King’s College London London, UK
ISSN 2662-6039 ISSN 2662-6047 (electronic) International Political Theory ISBN 978-3-030-30692-2 ISBN 978-3-030-30693-9 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover credit: Oleksiy Maksymenko/Alamy Stock Photo This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
To the memory of my parents, Pavel Popov (1944–2000) and Paraskeva Doukova (1938–1999)
A central question in contemporary political philosophy is what justifies the state, given that it is a political authority that involves the use of coercion. One way to elucidate this question is by identifying a mechanism—the social contract—through which the state is created, and which may account for some of its features as a supreme authority with coercive prerogatives. Within social contract theory the institution of the state is generated not only through a social contract but out of a condition known as a state of nature or ‘anarchy’. The first modern philosopher who gave this condition a careful consideration is Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). This book aims to re-examine his political philosophy and to develop a Hobbesian theory of international relations. Concretely, the aim is to recover Hobbes as a theorist of authority and anarchy, the two basic concepts that characterise the state and the condition that precedes it. Unlike contemporary political philosophers who regard the question of a state of nature as propaedeutic to an enquiry into the state, the following pages treat this question as important in its own right. What often goes unnoticed is that the state of nature is intelligible under different descriptions—as a counterfactual condition of statelessness, as an international arena where states compete for power and security unconstrained by a global sovereign (in line with political realism), as a condition which is ‘prior to’ the state, to mention just a few. In Part II it will be shown that between 1640 and 1651 Hobbes developed a diverse set of conceptions of a state of nature that can be organised into three distinct models, ‘race’ (competition), ‘uncertainty’ and ‘infelicity’ vii
(mutual frustration). I defend a structuralist reading of the infelicity model drawing on Leviathan by portraying agents in the state of nature as free and equal units that interact inside a finite, bounded domain. This domain is ‘anarchic’ because it is unregulated. The purpose of this study is not to evaluate Hobbes’s political philosophy but to determine its ground and limits. As such, its purview is predominantly moral philosophy. Starting with the problem of how free and equal agents who interact inside an unregulated realm end up frustrating each other’s pursuits, it proposes a deontological solution. Deontology here is understood in a weak sense: rule, not obligation is its master concept. If the predicament of the state of nature is assumed to reside in the structure of interaction—that is, if agents are frustrated not because human nature is defective or because the parameters of the external environment are unfavourable (such as scarcity) but simply because they collide in lieu of the fact that they cannot avoid each other’s presence inside a finite space—the response is to devise a set of rules so as to prevent or minimise such collision. These rules can be either Hobbes’s laws of nature, or the Hobbesian state where the rules in question are coercive and tied into a system. In Part III this structuralist model will be extrapolated to the sphere of international relations, to explain the conduct of states. Because Hobbes did not develop a theory of international relations himself, it would be necessary to supplant his theses with Kant’s philosophy of international right. The result is termed Hobbesian Internationalism. While it is distinct both from the realist conception of an international anarchy and from utopian proposals for a world state, it retains elements that are at once anarchical and state-like. My reading is based on Hobbes’s arguments in The Elements of Law (1640/1650), De Cive (1642/1647) and Leviathan (1651). No attempt has been made to evaluate the state of the art of current Hobbes scholarship. Indeed, as Francis McNeilly remarked in The Anatomy of Leviathan, one has to decide whether one is writing a book about Hobbes, or a book about books about Hobbes (McNeilly 1968, 5). This monograph falls into the former category. In preparing the manuscript for publication I received invaluable support from the team at Palgrave Macmillan. In particular I wish to thank the International Political Theory series editor, Gary Browning, and the editors Anne Kathrin Birchley-Brun, Imogen Gordon Clark, and Ambra Finotello. The insightful comments of the two anonymous reviewers
helped me improve the quality of the manuscript. Finally, because anarchy is a discourse about free individuals, I wish to dedicate this book to the memory of my parents who taught me the value of freedom. London, UK September 2019
Reference McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St Martin’s Press.
Part I Authority 1 Introduction: Reading Hobbes as a Theorist of Anarchy and Authority
2 Authority and the Problem of Political Philosophy
Part II Anarchy 3 The State of Nature in The Elements
4 The State of Nature in De Cive
5 The State of Nature in Leviathan
Part III Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations 6 Hobbes and the International Anarchy 111 7 Hobbesian Internationalism: Hobbes Meets Kant 139
8 Challenges: Globalisation and the Resurgence of Private Authority 167 Index 193
A Note on Sources and Abbreviations
In this book, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass 1969, 2nd edn.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; the English translation of De Corpore [Concerning Body], Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, edited by William Molesworth (London: John Bohn 1839), originally published in Latin in 1655. Multiple versions of Leviathan are available in English. The one chosen here is edited by C. B. Macpherson (London: Penguin 1968). It contains the 1651 ‘Head’ edition of Leviathan showing the original page numbers, it has an appealing orthography, and is readily accessible to students and non-specialists. To facilitate readers who may prefer different editions to the ones specified here, references to The Elements and De Corpore are cited by part, chapter, and article number. Thus, E I.3.6 refers to The Elements of Law, Part I, Chapter 3, Article 6. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. Hobbes’s spelling and capitalisation have been retained throughout.
A NOTE ON SOURCES AND ABBREVIATIONS
The following abbreviations for Hobbes’s works have been used: E DC DCor L
The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic De Cive (On the Citizen) De Corpore (Concerning Body) Leviathan
The discussion of Kant’s works on legal and political philosophy in Chapter 7 is based on the following editions: The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Kant’s essays Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795) and Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose (1784) are from the Hans Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings translated by H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 2nd edn.). The essay On the Common Saying: That May Be Correct in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice (1793) is from Kant’s Practical Philosophy, translated and edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). Mary Gregor’s edition and translation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) has also been used for The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)—Kant’s basic work on moral theory. For Kant’s metaphysics, presented in The Critique of Pure Reason, I have relied on Werner S. Pluhar’s unified edition (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996) which combines the first (1781) and second (1787) original editions of The Critique. As per convention, all references follow the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of Kant’s works, cited by volume and section (For example, G IV: 4 refers to Section 4 of The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals being Volume IV in the Prussian Academy edition). For the sake of consistency, this established citation format has been adopted also when citing the essays in the Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings. Kant’s works have been abbreviated as follows: CPR Critique of Pure Reason G Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals MM The Metaphysics of Morals PP Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch TP On the Common Saying: That May Be Correct in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice UH Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose
Introduction: Reading Hobbes as a Theorist of Anarchy and Authority
This book attempts to re-examine the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes through the idioms of anarchy and authority and to develop a Hobbesian theory of international relations that reflects these idioms. Hobbes is perhaps the most eminent and controversial of the modern English philosophers. Although his political writings were inspired by the English civil war at the close of the seventeenth century, the following pages seek to recover the analytical Hobbes bracketing the historical Hobbes. The analysis pursues three main aims. The first is to clarify the grounds of Hobbes’s political philosophy, which is a philosophy of the state understood as a juridical authority, and to compare his position with that of contemporary political philosophers. The second is to spell out the multiple conceptions of a state of nature, or ‘anarchy’ in present-day parlance, that Hobbes employs in his major treatises on morality and politics: The Elements , De Cive and, Leviathan.1 The third is to extrapolate Hobbes’s domestic theory of the state into a normative theory of international relations, termed ‘Hobbesian internationalism’.
The Justification of the State
There are so many books on Hobbes, so the question is what motives this one? One rationale is that Hobbes’s political philosophy can throw light on current philosophical debates on the character of civil authority
© The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_1
and political obligation. Political philosophy investigates the nature of the state as an institution as well as arguments for its justification. To justify an institution implies an appeal to a normative ground or principle, which shows why this institution is as it ought to be (Schmidtz 1996, 82). In Part II of Leviathan (1651), entitled ‘Of Common-Wealth’, Hobbes defines the properties of the state as an inherently coercive public authority. He justifies it on two grounds, both of which presuppose a distinction between the state of nature, as an unregulated realm of free interaction, and the civil state as an authority that imposes common juridical constraints (laws) on its subjects. Hobbes, together with John Locke (1980), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1987) and Immanuel Kant (1996), writes in the tradition of the social contract, which posits a logical sequence of three conditions: a state of nature, social contract, civil state. Social contract theory holds that the state of nature is a domain devoid of rules, usually legal or moral rules but sometimes also linguistic or other kinds of rules, inside which a multitude of free individuals are interacting. Because of the deregulated character of this condition and the freedom that the agents enjoy, their interaction is marked by fundamental uncertainty: they fear one another, not knowing what to expect; are unable to communicate effectively; or simply hinder each other’s pursuits. The result is anxiety, chaos, mutual frustration, and even anticipatory violence. The solution is to institute a common authority to supply the requisite framework of common rules that would stabilise agent relations. For Hobbes this authority must be public, juridical, coercive, and supreme—in short, it must be a state (civitas ). Concretely, Hobbes claims that individuals are better off living inside a state than outside it, in the state of nature, and that certain capacities that remain blocked in the state of nature can only be actualised by submitting to the coercive authority of the state. The former argument is about basic interests, the latter is about basic rights. On the interpretation proposed here, Hobbesian individuals seek not just the satisfaction of interests but aspire to acquire and exercise certain rights and freedoms. What ultimately justifies the Hobbesian state is the fact that it creates the conditions for exercising such rights and freedoms. Seen in this light, Hobbes is a theorist of freedom. Contemporary political philosophers construe the state as a form of civil authority. On a classic definition, authority is a right to rule tied to a corresponding obligation to obey (Wolff 1970, 4, 6). The problem of authority is a normative one because it supposes that rulers and subjects are tied by normative relations—namely, rights and obligations. To justify the state as
INTRODUCTION: READING HOBBES AS A THEORIST OF ANARCHY …
a civil authority it is necessary to show either that the rulers have a right to rule, or that the subjects have a moral obligation to obey the law. Two strands in the literature address each of these options. The first, favoured by A. John Simmons, William Edmundson, and Joseph Raz, approaches this normative relation by emphasising the moral obligation to obey the law, the other, represented by Elizabeth Anscombe and Herbert L. A. Hart, enquires into the right of rulers to exert authority over the subjects (these essays are collected in Edmundson 1999; Raz 1990). Although Anscombe and Hart adopt certain premises associated with Hobbes’s view of authority, in Chapter 2 it will be shown that they do not embrace it wholesale. A central thesis advanced in this book is that Hobbes justifies the state without appeal to antecedent moral principles such as moral obligation, autonomy, or consent. Hobbes’s basic claim—that rational agents would prefer life inside a state over anarchy (a ‘state of nature’ in his terms)— does not invoke moral principles but interests, the chief among which is self-preservation. His parallel claim that the state creates the conditions under which its subjects can properly enjoy rights, though it employs the moral and juridical language of rights, is similarly not deducible from more fundamental moral principles. Hobbes begins his account of the state of nature with a naturalist conception of a right—a ‘right of nature’—which does not comply with the standard Hohfeldian conception of a right as a claim that entails a corresponding obligation (Hohfeld 1919). The right of nature is a capacity to act freely without being obstructed by external impediments (L XIV, 189 ; on freedom see XXI, 261 ). This right coheres with Hobbes’s general conception of authority, which represents the nexus between his view of individuals as parts of nature, and individuals as persons who can bear rights and obligations in a moral and juridical sense. Authority for Hobbes is not a political or legal concept. Rather, it designates human agency: it is ‘the right of doing any action’ (L XVI, 218 ). The Hobbesian state, as noted, is created via a social contract. But in Leviathan Hobbes explains its founding by introducing the concept of authorisation. Each individual participant in this founding act transfers one’s authority to—or authorises—a common representative, a sovereign (L XVII, 227 ; XVIII, 228–229 ). The result of such simultaneous authorisations by a multitude of individuals is to empower the sovereign to act on their behalf with a view of securing their common good, including common peace and defence. Authorising the sovereign is an act, nor an abstract procedure that operates in an idealised condition (say) behind a
Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ (Rawls 1971, 12). This act takes place in the state of nature as a peculiar domain of interaction. The second rationale for undertaking the present study is to reclaim Hobbes’s concept of a state of nature, which has not been properly appreciated and understood within contemporary discourses of political philosophy, international relations, and political science. Henceforth the expression ‘state of nature’ is used interchangeably with ‘anarchy’. In this usage, the meaning of anarchy is much broader than the ‘realist’ conception of anarchy which describes free interaction among states in the absence of an overarching global authority that generates uncertainty, mutual hostility, and interstate war. The philosophical account of anarchy proposed here is not just a ‘response’ to realism, as a canonical theory of international relations. To start with realist premises is to adopt an unduly narrow and distorted picture of Hobbes’s project. Because the state of nature involves an intricate social world of unconstrained agent relations, it poses a basic problem that cannot be assimilated to the realist conception of anarchy linking considerations of uncertainty to physical harm and violence. As we shall see, there is surprisingly little physical violence in Hobbes’s presentation of the state of nature. This pre-political condition is an unregulated social world not in the sense that there are absolutely no rules inside it, but in the sense that there are no common, stable, and determinate rules. The rudimentary rules found in the state of nature remain uncertain because their interpretation is a matter of subjective judgement and because there is no independent authority to interpret and enforce them impartially (Oakeshott 1975a, 40–41). In this aspect, Hobbes’s anarchy resembles what Hart called a primitive moral system which contains primary rules of morality but lacks secondary rules of law that are necessary to determine the status of its primary rules (Hart 1961). The difference is that Hobbes’s explanation of the state of nature is tremendously complex by today’s philosophical standards. It is almost like a summa that includes, apart from the problematic of law, morality, and politics, a plethora of arguments concerning thought, language, reason, action, individual and group rationality. One reason why commentators may have been misled into thinking that the state of nature is an intuitively clear concept is Hobbes’s own statement in a famous passage from Leviathan. There life under the condition of mere nature is described as ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and, short’ (L XIII, 186 ). Unfortunately this dazzling description detracts the
INTRODUCTION: READING HOBBES AS A THEORIST OF ANARCHY …
reader from the enormous logical power and subtlety of Hobbes’s analysis. Hobbes does not merely seek to explain why it would be desirable and rational for an individual to exit the state of nature and to enter the realm of the civil state. He invites us to consider the more basic problem of what happens when there are no reliable and known standards to determine how free individuals should interact. Moreover, it makes a difference what kind of individuals (natural persons or purely artificial persons, states), and what kind of standards (moral, legal, linguistic) we have in mind. Most of this project is devoted to clarifying the multiple meanings and models of the state of nature that Hobbes develops in his mature masterpiece, Leviathan (1651) and his earlier works, The Elements (1640/1650) and De Cive (1642/1647).2 The central thesis of Part II is that there is discontinuity in Hobbes’s presentation in these three works, and that the difference between Leviathan and the earlier treatises is of philosophical import. Except for Daniel Eggers’s careful study, Die Naturzustandstheorie des Thomas Hobbes (2008) published in German, to my knowledge no philosophical account of Hobbes’s state of nature that differentiates between the arguments in The Elements , De Cive and Leviathan is available.3 In contrast to Eggers’s, my interpretation approaches each of these texts as an internally constituted field of concepts, and on this basis distinguishes between various models of the state of nature such as ‘race’, ‘uncertainty’, and ‘infelicity’. A re-examination of Hobbes’s views on anarchy and authority, it is hoped, would also be of interest to specialists. The founding of the journal Hobbes Studies and the expanding literature on Hobbes (see collections edited by Lloyd 2012, 2013, 2019; Prokhovnik and Slomp 2010; Sorell 1996; Sorell and Foisneau 2004; Springborg 2007) indicate that interest in his ideas is anything but fading. Gabriella Slomp has noted that unlike the early commentators who sought to explain Hobbes’s philosophical system as a whole, recent scholarship has become fragmented, with researchers focussing on a ‘chapter, a passage, a paragraph, a metaphor, a “bit” of Hobbes’ (Slomp 2011, 19). My interpretation is indebted to these early expositors and particularly to Michael Oakeshott’s famous ‘Introduction to Leviathan’ (1946, 1975a), David Dachies Raphael’s comprehensive examination of Hobbes’s morals and politics (2004), and Francis S. McNeilly’s Anatomy of Leviathan (1968) which remains one of the clearest readings of Hobbes’s challenging masterpiece. Finally, the present enquiry responds to the growing interest in Hobbes’s international political theory (Prokhovnik and Slomp 2010). As such it
brings together the concerns of political philosophy and international relations theory. The argument in the book is developed in two steps corresponding to this duo of concerns. As a first step, the core concepts of Hobbes’s political philosophy—authority, coercion, and the state—will be clarified in Chapter 2. Because the task is to understand the limits and presuppositions of Hobbes’s political philosophy rather than its substantive theses, the discussion is mostly about morals, and less about politics. By moral philosophy or ‘moral science’ Hobbes does not mean an abstract analysis of the good and the right, virtue or justice. For him morality comprises normative relations that govern the interactions of agents in the state of nature such as covenants (promises) and the laws of nature. The second step is to advance a Hobbesian theory of international relations. While Hobbes said very little on this matter, his brief remark that individuals in the state of nature resemble mutually hostile states in the international realm (L XIII, 187 ) has earned him the reputation of a leading figure in the tradition of political realism (Wight 1991; cf. Armitage 2006). My contention is that an alternative, Kantian theory of international relations, is the best candidate for extending Hobbes’s domestic theory of the state to the international sphere. The result of this fusion between Kant’s and Hobbes’s ideas has been termed Hobbesian internationalism.
Beyond Realism? Hobbesian Internationalism
Realists are fascinated with Hobbes’s metaphor of anarchy as a ‘war of all against all’. It captures the realist image of state relations as permeated by uncertainty and rampant competition for power and security. In Chapter 6 the concept of a ‘war of all against all’ is shown to involve problems of anticipation, uncertainty, as well as individual and group rationality (Kavka 1983) that are not per se realist. It would therefore be a mistake to categorise Hobbes as a realist. At the same time, the internal complexity of realist theory with its diverse strands of structural realism, political realism, and ethical scepticism should not be ignored. Relevant to our purposes is the debate between those who adopt an ethically sceptical stance thereby reading Hobbes’s state of nature as a realm of amorality and ‘normativists’ who hold that the state of nature is ameliorated by normative constraints: laws of nature (Boucher 1990; Forsyth 1979). But even though Hobbes’s alleged realism is often critiqued (Forsyth 1979; Malcolm 2002) few critics have suggested a positive alternative. The alternative proposed here is Hobbesian internationalism. It positions
INTRODUCTION: READING HOBBES AS A THEORIST OF ANARCHY …
Hobbes close to Kant by translating Hobbes’s domestic theory of the state into a Kantian account of an international authority based on principles of international right (international justice). It is noteworthy that both Hobbes and Kant view the state as a public coercive authority whose substance is law. Kant goes a step further with his project for ‘perpetual peace’ (Kant 1991). He hypothesises that war would be abolished forever if all states merge into a world state but since this is unlikely to happen any time soon, the second-best option is a peaceful confederation of free states. In bringing Hobbes and Kant together my interpretation prioritises the question of freedom over than of peace (cf. Jaede 2018). However, Kant’s international relations theory raises problems of its own, and this requires a return to Hobbes. The analytical trajectory moves from Hobbes to Kant, and back again to Hobbes. Synthesising Kant’s and Hobbes’s insights produces a kind of internationalism whose institutional embodiment is an association of free and equal states coexisting under a normatively modulated anarchy. Challenges to Hobbesian internationalism posed by two trends, globalisation, and the resurgence of private authority, are considered in the final Chapter 8. These trends include the rise of transborder networks that escape public oversight, as well as the outsourcing of security by the state to globally active private military and security companies. Developments of this kind reflect the ideal of the free market as an arrangement among private agents. This entails the puzzle of whether the state itself can be construed as a large scale private authority, an idea implicit in Locke’s social contract theory (Locke 1980) and elaborated by Robert Nozick in his libertarian defence of the minimal state (Nozick 1974). Such a Lockean position is an antithesis to Hobbes’s (and Kant’s) conception of the state as public authority. The concluding pages identify the normative hazards of structuring the global realm along private lines and defend the relevance of Hobbesian internationalism.
The Significance of State-of-Nature Arguments
It is important to reiterate the significance of the philosophical problems that this study sets out to elucidate. It is surprising how often Hobbes’s justification of the state—as a coercive public authority that emerges out of anarchy—is treated as fitting the standard model of justification that invokes, or should invoke, moral principles (but see Oakeshott 1975b,
107). A state-of-nature argument does not simply ask why a public authority with coercive powers ought to be instituted. It rather asks why living under this form of authority is preferable to anarchy and why, furthermore, it enables us to enjoy rights and freedoms that otherwise would remain out of reach. Once the question is formulated in this manner, it becomes clear that it cannot be subsumed into an enquiry into foundational moral principles. What is required instead is to return to and re-examine the problem of a state of nature. This natural condition, as understood by Hobbes is not a state of affairs (such as raining) or a state of one’s mind (such as hoping): it represents a complex world of agent relations. In Chapter 5, a structuralist reading of this Hobbesian world will be advanced. Key to it is the idea that agents in the state of nature do not merely act freely, but interact with one another: this is a relational view. It suggests that individual freedom is impeded because multiple individuals co-exist in close proximity. Recently Arthur Ripstein (2009) has interpreted Kant’s state of nature in such relational terms. Drawing on Roman private law, Ripstein depicts agents as private parties who enter into transactions prior to and independently from the public realm of the juridical state. My structuralist interpretation of Hobbes’s state of nature presupposes a wider range of agent relations and encompasses not only law but also considerations of human psychology, action, value, reason, and language. In effect this book seeks to revive state-of-nature analysis in the style of Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia (1974). Nozick offered an ‘invisible hand’ explanation for the emergence of the state out of the state of nature, which reflects the principle of the free market. The Hobbesian state is underpinned by a principally different, juridical notion of freedom. These two forms of freedom are explored in Chapter 8. For now, it suffices to register that throughout this study the character of Hobbes’s state of nature is treated as an open question. Perhaps the point can be expressed by observing that the state of nature is only available ‘under a description’. Thus it is possible to accommodate alternative, even clashing, conceptions of it within the same argument without incoherence. When Hobbes speaks of a ‘war of all against all’ (meaning a condition of physical insecurity and anticipation of violence), he provides a substantive description of the state of nature. Under a formal description, it designates a condition of statelessness. This meaning of the term dovetails: It may mean either a condition where the civil state has not yet emerged (prospective meaning) or one where an existing state has collapsed, as in the case of a civil war (retrospective meaning). Given that the objective here
INTRODUCTION: READING HOBBES AS A THEORIST OF ANARCHY …
is to problematise the authority of the state, the retrospective option must be bracketed since it assumes away the state. Moreover, this option is not applicable to international relations as these relations cannot be said to have come about through the demise of a prior world state. Of course, it is useful to have a generic description of the state of nature and the one adopted here is: A condition of interaction between individuals, including states, in a common domain that is not regulated by common rules. Part II will analyse Hobbes’s multiple conceptions of a state of nature: establishing their meaning in each case would depend on how we interpret Hobbes; that is, on Hobbes’s premises and on our own. In this sense, every philosophical account is ultimately an interpretation (Oakeshott 1975a, 30). So far isolated conceptions of the state of nature were outlined. But conceptions can be connected to form analytical models. Part II will present three models of the state of nature extracted from The Elements , De Cive, and Leviathan. These include a ‘race’ model, a basic uncertainty model (which may refer to epistemological, linguistic, or existential uncertainty), and an ‘infelicity’ (mutual frustration) model. My structuralist interpretation is a version of the infelicity model that draws evidence from Chapters XIII through XV of Leviathan. This constitutes a departure from the better known psychological interpretation of the state of nature that begins with Chapter VI and traces interpersonal conflict to a triad of passions—‘diffidence’ (mistrust), ‘glory’ (pride), and ‘competition’ (greed). The proposed structuralist argument makes assumptions about the state of nature, presenting it as a finite, spatially enclosed interaction domain, and about the agents, who are taken to be free and equal individuals. As Hobbes claims, ab initio all individuals possess an unconstrained liberty to act, ‘a right of nature’, and all are roughly equal in bodily and mental capacities. This structuralist reading has freedom of action as its major concern. The problem it addresses is, how can the unbounded liberty of agents, which leads to mutual frustration if not necessarily to physical violence, be constrained so that the freedom of each is rendered compatible with a like freedom for all? Hobbes’s answer is, by generating a system of rules that would prevent mutual interference by channelling agent interaction. Not any kind of rules would be appropriate though. They must be legal rules (laws) that lend themselves to an impartial interpretation and coercive enforcement by an independent juridical authority which governs all subjects in a given realm: the Hobbesian state. This is why Hobbes defines the state as an authority that is public, juridical, coercive, and supreme (sovereign) over a realm.
Indeed, in order to translate Hobbes’s argument for a state of nature into an account of international relations, it is best to interpret the state of nature in structuralist terms. For sovereign states are free and equal agents exactly like the human agents assumed on the recommended structuralist reading. The principles of freedom and equality of states underwrite the idiom of Hobbesian internationalism. And yet, as it will be clarified in Chapter 6, the international state of nature has a differentia of its own: it is not merely a replica of the domestic state of nature. One reason for this, as Hobbes remarks, is that the condition of natural liberty among states, which is a state of war, is not marked by the ‘misery that accompanies the Liberty of particular men’ (L XIII, 188 ). The preparation for external war by the state in other words does not impose economic hardship or security threats on its citizens. Another reason why the international anarchy differs from its domestic counterpart is that states are unlike human beings in important aspects. Properties typical of the state are economic self-sufficiency, high resilience against physical destruction as well as the fact that states are unequal in terms of power (Bull 1981). The equality of states presupposed by the doctrine of Hobbesian internationalism is legal and moral equality, not equality of power. This form of internationalism, as noted, synthesises Kant’s and Hobbes’s premises. When Kant outlined his blueprint for an international authority, a peaceful league of free and equal states committed to principles of international justice, he was writing in the Hobbesian tradition where the state is construed as a juridical realm. But states cannot be solely seen as juridical realms that enable and protect the rights of citizens. Hobbes’s insight is to have articulated a further notion of the state as a sovereign individual: a moral person with rights (and duties) of its own. And if each state is a free agent in a moral sense, it should not be coerced to enter the peaceful league of states against its will. An international authority based on the ideal of freedom should remain non-coercive with respect to entry and exit. Hobbesian internationalism thus invites us to rethink the relation between freedom and coercion, as it applies to the international sphere.
Method of Interpretation
The proposed study constitutes a philosophical reconstruction of Hobbes’s ideas. It adopts an interpretive methodology that requires texts to be read in a context (Boucher 2018; Oakeshott 1975a). But the term ‘context’ is
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ambiguous. Some scholars take context to embody the historical circumstances that Hobbes had witnessed and in response to which his writings constituted a rhetorical intervention. Thus Quentin Skinner writes ‘My aim. .. is to situate Hobbes’s theory and practice of civil science within the intellectual context in which it was formed. I am less interested in Hobbes as the author of a philosophical system than in his role as a contributor to a series of debates about the moral sciences within Renaissance culture’ (Skinner 1996, 6, emphasis added). My conception of context is precisely the one that Skinner excludes—context in the sense of a philosophical framework or system. The interpretive method adopted here may be termed ‘analytical hermeneutics’. It holds that in order to understand a particular statement that Hobbes made it is necessary to have an understanding of his philosophical system as a whole. As Oakeshott has observed perceptively, Hobbes’s philosophical system is not a theoretical construction built upon first principles (e.g., Watkins 1965) but a mode of reasoning (Oakeshott 1975a, 16–17, 20). This mode of reasoning aims to subject a not-yet-understood proposition to critical scrutiny, by attempting to uncover its premises, and to connect it to other, better understood propositions (Oakeshott 1975c). The just described approach to interpretation is holist: It seeks to impart coherence to a putative body of ideas by treating each idea as part of a larger whole. But it is not the same as a synoptic, uniform, or reductionist approach. It does not endorse synoptic pronouncements such as Leo Strauss’s dictum that the modern philosophy of natural right originates with Hobbes (Strauss 1963; see Martinich 2015). Nor does it endorse attempts to trace the systematic nature of Hobbes’s thought to a stock of uniform concepts, such as Bernard Gert’s claim that throughout his corpus of writings Hobbes adheres to a single, unchanging conception of reason (2001). Finally, it must be distinguished from arguments that purport to unearth the bedrock of Hobbes’s philosophical edifice, as in Howard Warrender’s contention that Hobbes’s entire political philosophy rests on a basic conception of moral obligation (Warrender 1957). Because the proposed interpretive approach is attuned to identifying continuities as well as discontinuities, it allows us to differentiate between elements—be it concepts, arguments, models, or texts. From this perspective of differentiation, even astute Hobbes scholars such as Gert, Warrender, and Strauss err in amalgamating statements that Hobbes made at different times and in different works: the result of their interpretive strategy is ‘making a marvellous omelette. .. of Hobbes’s broken eggs’ (McNeilly 1968, 147). It is true
that The Elements , De Cive and Leviathan cover roughly the same problematic—starting with assumptions of mind and language, moving onto a theory of action, the state of nature, the juridical state, and concluding with an examination of state-based religion. Hobbes’s theses in each of these three works may appear similar insofar as their conclusions are concerned—notably, that people, if rational, would choose to enter the lawful condition of a state. But the starting premises, concepts, and models, and the derivation of conclusions from premises, remain distinct in each case. This is evident in the models that Hobbes develops to explain the logic of the state of nature. In The Elements the state of nature is a ‘race’, motivated by the desire to be ‘foremost’ (Chapter 3). The metaphor of a race represents a sociable view of human nature. This model disappears in Hobbes’s later writings. Hobbes’s tone is almost morose in De Cive where the desire to hurt, fear, and violence are major determinants of conduct (Chapter 4) and where uncertainty, particularly in an existential sense linked to fear of death, is dominant. In Leviathan Hobbes returns to a more abstract analysis that factors out motivation and emphasises the incompatibility of individual goals (Chapter 5). According to the structuralist reading of the ‘infelicity’ model put forward here, Hobbesian individuals clash in the state of nature not because they want to hurt one another but because they happen to be trapped together inside a finite interaction domain.
Structure of the Book
The exposition is developed in three parts. Part I takes up the central problem of political philosophy which concerns the justification of the state as a coercive authority, and explores Hobbes’s views of authority at the background of contemporary discussions. Part II explicates Hobbes’s various arguments for a state of nature by differentiating the texts of The Elements (Chapter 3), De Cive (Chapter 4) and Leviathan (Chapter 5). Part III defends the doctrine of Hobbesian internationalism in three steps. First, it sketches Hobbes’s view of the international anarchy (Chapter 6), it then analyses Kant’s theses for a league of free and independent states, the core of Hobbesian internationalism (Chapter 7), and it rebuts challenges to the theoretical standpoint thus outlined stemming from the literatures on globalisation and private authority (Chapter 8). Chapter 2 offers a brief survey of the main positions in the contemporary philosophical debates over the nature of state authority. It focusses on Anscombe’s and Hart’s theses in lieu of their Hobbesian leanings.
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Anscombe and Hart approach the normative relation between rulers and subjects from the standpoint of authority (right to rule) and not from the standpoint of an obligation to obey the law. The chapter introduces Hobbes’s notions of authority and authorisation that constitute the connecting link between Hobbes’s account of the state of nature and that of the civil state. Chapter 3 examines the earliest articulation of Hobbes’s state of nature in The Elements . It begins by outlining Hobbes’s theory of action and his conceptions of reason and passion. It then considers the key relations that govern interaction in the state of nature: the right of nature and the laws of nature. Special attention is devoted to the model of life as a race, tied to the cardinal passion of vainglory which presupposes human sociability. Chapter 4 traces Hobbes’s modification of the state of nature in De Cive whose basic premise is that of human unsociability. Hobbes does not adhere to a consistent model or models of a state of nature in this work, although two uncertainty models can be extracted from it if his exposition is appropriately reconstructed. But even though his argument is not entirely coherent, Hobbes succeeds in clarifying important aspects of the normative status of the laws of nature. Chapter 5 analyses Leviathan. There Hobbes distinguishes the particular concept of a state of war from the general concept of a state of nature as a realm of free interaction. The chapter supports the structuralist reading of the ‘infelicity’ model of a state of nature. It is argued that because the problem this model identifies is hindrance to freedom produced by unconstrained interaction as opposed to anticipation of physical violence, the civil state would need to provide not just the public good of security but a system of legal rules to prevent collision among the agents. Hobbes’s conception of the international anarchy is the theme of Chapter 6. It compares two models: a pure anarchy among states (a realist model) and a world state. It also identifies a stance, termed normativism, which is not a model but which is important in developing the notion of a mature state of nature among states. According to normativism, the laws of nature constitute norms that states are prepared to follow on their own accord, in the absence of a global authority. Chapter 7, on Hobbesian internationalism, switches the focus from anarchy to authority. It shows that Kant’s peaceful confederation of free states as an institutionalised international authority best realises Hobbes’s idea of the state as a public coercive authority. This confederation is predicated on a third, ‘internationalist’ model representing a hybrid between pure anarchy and a world state. The
league of free states is not a rigid international structure in which states must be compelled to participate, but an institution that retains elements of anarchy and freedom. Chapter 8 considers the ways in which globally operating processes that comprise private agencies and that promote values of economic efficiency and managerial control are eroding the ‘anarchical’ freedom of states described in Chapter 7. The chapter uses two basic distinctions: private/public authority and international/global to disclose the promise of a global public realm and Hobbesian internationalism as supplying the principles for a possible institutional manifestation of that realm. The major conclusion that emerges from the discussion is that neither Hobbes’s theory of the state nor its extension into a theory of international relations can settle conclusively the problem of political philosophy by showing that the state, as an inherently coercive public authority, has no alternative. What these theories do show, however, is that if freedom is a value, we need some form of institutionalised public authority—including an international one—that can create a rule-based normative order inside which agents can pursue freely chosen ends without facing violence or undue interference by others. But in order to preserve freedom and agency, this framework would have to retain elements of anarchy; it should not be allowed to coalesce into an overarching global institutional structure: This is the message of Hobbesian internationalism.
Notes 1. In this book, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; the English translation of De Corpore [Concerning Body], Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, edited by William Molesworth (London: John Bohn, 1839), originally published in Latin in 1655; Leviathan, edited by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC ’, and De Corpore, as ‘DCor’. References to The Elements and De Corpore are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968
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edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. 2. See note 1. 3. For an analysis of Hobbes’s concept of a state of nature from a history of ideas perspective see Evrigenis (2014) and Christov (2015).
Bibliography Armitage, David. 2006. Hobbes and the Foundations of Modern International Thought. In Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought, ed. A. Brett and J. Tully, 219–235. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Boucher, David. 1990. Inter-Community and International Relations in the Political Philosophy of Hobbes. Polity 23 (2): 207–232. Boucher, David. 2018. Appropriating Hobbes: Legacies in Political, Legal and International Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bull, Hedley. 1981. Hobbes and the International Anarchy. Social Research 48 (4): 717–738. Christov, Theodore. 2015. Before Anarchy: Hobbes and His Critics in Modern International Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edmundson, William A. (ed.). 1999. The Obligation to Obey the Law. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Eggers, Daniel (2008). Die Naturzustandstheorie des Thomas Hobbes. Berlin: Walter De Guyter. Evrigenis, Ioannis D. 2014. Images of Anarchy: The Rhetoric and Science in Hobbes’s State of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Forsyth, Murray. 1979. Thomas Hobbes and the External Relations of States. British Journal of Inter-National Studies 5 (3): 196–209. Gert, Bernard. 2001. Hobbes on Reason. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (3–4): 234–257. Goldsmith, Maurice M. 1969. Introduction to the Second Edition. In The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed, ed. Ferdinand Tönnies, v–xxi. London: Frank Cass. Hart, H.L.A. 1961. The Concept of Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hobbes, Thomas. 1839. De Corpore [Concerning Body]. Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. William Molesworth. London: John Bohn (Originally published in 1655). Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650).
Hohfeld, W.N. 1919. Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jaede, Maximillian. 2018. Thomas Hobbes’s Conception of Peace. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Kant, Immanuel. 1991. Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. In Immanuel Kant, Political Writings, trans. H.B. Nisbet, ed. H. Reiss, 93–130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1795). Kant, Immanuel. 1996. The Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Originally published in 1797. Kavka, Gregory S. 1983. Hobbes’s War of All Against All. Ethics 93 (2): 291–310. Lloyd, Sharon A. (ed.). 2012. Hobbes Today: Insights for the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lloyd, Sharon A. (ed.). 2013. The Bloomsbury Companion to Hobbes. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Lloyd, Sharon A. (ed.). 2019. Interpreting Hobbes’s Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Locke, John. 1980. Second Treatise of Government, ed. C.B. Macpherson. Indianapolis: Hackett. Originally published in 1690. Malcolm, Noel. 2002. Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations. In Aspects of Hobbes, ed. Noel Malcolm, 432–456. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Martinich, A.P. 2015. Leo Strauss’s Olympian Interpretation: Right, Selfpreservation, and Law in the Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. In Reading Between the Lines: Leo Strauss and the History of Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Winfried Schroeder, 77–98. Berlin: De Gruyter. McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State, Utopia. New York: Basic Books. Oakeshott, Michael. 1946. Introduction to Leviathan. In Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1960), ed. Michael Oakeshott, vii–lxvi. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975a. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975b. The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 80–140. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975c. On Human Conduct. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Prokhovnik, Raia, and Gabriella Slomp (eds.). 2010. International Political Theory After Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Raphael, D.D. 2004. Hobbes: Morals and Politics, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Raz, Joseph (ed.). 1990. Authority. New York: New York University Press. Ripstein, Arthur. 2009. Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1987. On the Social Contract, trans. Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett (Originally published in 1762). Schmidtz, David. 1996. Justifying the State. In For and Against the State, ed. John T. Sanders and Jan Narveson, 81–97. Rowman and Littlefield: Boston. Simmons, A. John. 1995. On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Skinner, Quentin. 1996. Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Slomp, Gabriella. 2011. The Politics of Motion and the Motion of Politics. In International Political Theory After Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation, ed. Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Slomp, 19–41. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Sorell, Tom (ed.). 1996. The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sorell, Tom, and Luc Foisneau (eds.). 2004. Leviathan After 350 Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Springborg, Patricia (ed.). 2007. The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Strauss, Leo. 1963. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis. Chicago: The Chicago University Press. Warrender, Howard. 1957. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: His Theory of Obligation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Watkins, J.W.N. 1965. Hobbes System of Ideas. London: Hutchinson. Wight, Martin. 1991. International Theory: The Three Traditions, eds. Gabriele Wight and Brian Porter. Leicester: Continuum. Wolff, Robert Paul. 1970. In Defense of Anarchism. New York: Harper and Row.
Authority and the Problem of Political Philosophy
The central argument of Hobbes’s political philosophy is that the state— a public, juridical, coercive and supreme authority—constitutes a better alternative than the anarchic condition of a ‘state of nature’. But the state is not just a device that makes citizens better off; it also accords them with crucial rights and freedoms. The interpretation defended here is that Hobbes offers a weak justification of the state which resembles explanation (Oakeshott 1975, 17, 27–28), and which does not invoke some independent moral principles. Recent political philosophers understand the state in terms of a relation between authority (right to rule) and obedience (an obligation to obey the law). This relation, as some of them claim, must be morally grounded if the state is to be legitimate. This chapter seeks to explain the difference assigned to authority by Hobbes and by contemporary political philosophers. The first section briefly outlines the contemporary debate, and the second turns to Hobbes’s conception of authority as presented in Leviathan (1651).1 The next three chapters will proceed to analyse Hobbes’s evolving views on the state of nature in the decade between 1640 and 1651.
© The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_2
Authority and the State: The Contemporary Debate
In Part II of Leviathan Hobbes presents the state—termed ‘commonwealth’ or ‘civitas ’—as an institutional structure based on relations of political authority. For now we may think of political authority as a right to rule, though more on this will be said below. The four basic attributes of the Hobbesian state outlined in Chaps. XVIII, XXI, XXVI, and XXX of Leviathan include legality, coercion, publicity, and supremacy (sovereignty). Its substance is law where law is not just a tool for social control or social coordination but an institution, a system of rules, that presupposes the use of coercion. Coercion, ‘the sword’ in Hobbes’s terms, is necessary to ensure compliance with the rules. The ‘form’ or formal properties of the Hobbesian state include supremacy and publicity. These are the constitutive principles of a public realm that assign public roles, of officials and of citizens, to members of the state. The state is the sole agency in a position to generate legal rules with a public scope, to impartially interpret them, and to coercively enforce them: Its authority is supreme. It is not supreme everywhere, but in a jurisdiction that covers a territory and that pertains to specific functions, especially public safety. In sum, the Hobbesian civitas is an authority that holds a supreme right to create a public system of legal rules, to enforce them, and to adjudicate disputes within its jurisdictional domain. Contemporary thinkers who associate the problem of political philosophy with the state, construe it as the paradigmatic political authority that implies an obligation to obey. Some like Elizabeth Anscombe and Herbert L. A. Hart have adopted Hobbes’s conception of the state as a juridical , public, coercive authority, and in what follows we shall consider their views in some detail. But even they shy away from endorsing Hobbes’s conclusion, which is that the authority of the state is not to be understood narrowly, in relation to obedience, but contextually, as a problem related to the state of nature as an interaction domain populated by agents who possess unconditional freedom. With the exception of Robert Nozick (1974), whose leanings are Lockean, state-of-nature analysis has attracted few recent adherents (though see Wellman 2005). My contention is that Hobbes’s insights can illuminate not simply the nature of the state as a structure of authority but also, and crucially, the anarchical condition of statelessness itself. Contemporary philosophical discussions of political authority usually begin with Robert Paul Wolff’s definition of the term. ‘Authority’, Wolff
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writes, ‘is a right to command, and correlatively, the duty to be obeyed’ (1970, 4). Whenever authority is state authority, its purview is law; it comprises a right to make, interpret and enforce the law, to which corresponds an obligation to obey the law. It is moreover assumed that state authority represents practical authority that pertains to action and the domain of practical reason rather than theoretical authority that concerns belief and the domain of theoretical reason (Raz 1990b, 16). As Wolff’s definition reveals, authority is a relation between those entitled to rule and those obligated to obey. It is a normative relation in a strong sense, as it involves rights and obligations and, obliquely, background moral rules and principles. It can be analysed from two distinct perspectives—‘from above’ (from the perspective of the holders of authority) or ‘from below’ (from the perspective of the subjects).2 The former raises the question, can anyone justifiably claim authority over others, a right to rule?, and the latter, does anyone have a moral obligation to obey the law? The view ‘from below’ suggests that state authority is justified only if the subjects can be shown to have an obligation to obey the law. Its representatives include Wolff (1970), John Simmons (1979a), Joseph Raz (1979, 1985b) and Leslie Green (1988). Assuming a legal obligation to obey the law, they ask, is there an independent, moral obligation to acknowledge this legal obligation? The answer they favour is predominantly negative. The argument has a radical version (Wolff 1970), and an attenuated version which concedes that individual citizens may have an obligation to obey some laws, but denies that all citizens are bound to obey all laws (Green 1988; Raz 1985b, 142, 145; Smith 1973, 951–952). This is a denial that a general moral obligation to obey the law exists. According to the radical version advocated by Wolff, no state can be legitimate because there can be no moral obligation to obey the law, even in principle. This position is known as philosophical anarchism. A subject obeys an authority, Wolff contends, when the reason for obedience is the authoritative directive given. As he puts it, ‘Obedience is not a matter of doing what someone tells you to do. It is a matter of doing what he tells you to do because he tells you to do it ’ (Wolff 1970, 9, original emphasis). But then any authoritative directive undermines the capacity to take responsibility for one’s actions by preventing one from acting in the light of reasons one has critically examined for oneself. Ergo, the claim of any authority, including state authority, to obedience lacks justification (Wolff 1970, 19). Wolff’s argument has enjoyed popularity because it explicates the problem of political philosophy succinctly: by positing an antimony between
authority and autonomy. Wolff’s ‘autonomy’ has a Kantian flavour, but it is not identical to Kant’s concept. For Kant autonomy, self-legislation by a rational person, is a precondition for practical freedom and responsibility (G IV: 440, 448–449),3 whereas Wolff posits a stronger requirement for rational agents, a basic moral duty to act autonomously (Wolff 1970, 18). Some have questioned Wolff’s derivation since it might be concluded that autonomous individuals must avoid creating legitimate states, not that state authority lacks justification (Simmons 1987, 269, n. 2). If the tables are turned, the normative relation of authority can be explored from ‘above’, by focussing on the right to rule instead on the obligation to obey. According to Anscombe, precisely this claim to authority (right to rule) distinguishes the civil state from an organised mafia (1978, 147). She makes two general points, both distinctively Hobbesian. The first is that the concept of a right is fundamental to authority (Anscombe 1978, 151). Unlike organised mafias whose rule depends on power, states exercise their rule by virtue of a right. Anscombe favours a modal account of rights. Modals—such as ‘cans’ and ‘cannots’, ‘oughts’ and ‘ought nots’— are operators in deontic logic that deals with possibility and necessity. To explain rights, Anscombe invokes the so-called ‘stopping modals’ which rule out certain types of conduct (Anscombe 1978, 151–161). A modal of this kind, such as ‘cannot’, must be paired to a practical proposition which concerns the actions of another person. For example, the pair ‘No you cannot do this… it is N’s to …’ expresses the idea of a right. It tells us that it is up to N alone, the right-holder, to do a certain action (‘It is N’s to …’) and it stops any other agent from doing the action (‘No you cannot do this …’) (Anscombe 1978, 159–161). But why would such ‘stopping modals’ be action-guiding for the subject? Hart provides the missing link in Anscombe’s argument. A speaker, he writes, in making an utterance, intends to make a hearer act whereby the recognition of this intention becomes a reason for action for the hearer (Hart 1982, 98–99). The result is an authoritative utterance (a command) that can be distinguished from a non-authoritative utterance and, above all, from the brute application of force. Contrast the command ‘Leave the room!’ with the utterance ‘Boo!’ (where fright and not the recognition of the speaker’s intention makes the hearer act) or with a situation where the person is dragged out of the room (Hart 1982, 99). An utterance counts as authoritative only if it succeeds in becoming a reason for action for the subject. Proper authoritative utterances constitute what Hart calls
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‘peremptory content-independent’ reasons for action (Hart 1982, 100– 102). A peremptory reason cuts off the subject’s deliberation and operates by displacing, rather than by merely tipping, the balance of reasons which this deliberation has generated up to this point. Hobbes anticipates the idea in Chap. XXV of Leviathan: ‘Command is when a man saith do this or do not do this yet without expecting any other reason than the will of him that saith it’ (Hobbes quoted in Hart 1982, 100). As Hart notes: By this Hobbes meant that the commander characteristically intends his hearer to take the commander’s will instead of his own as a guide to action and so to take it in place of any deliberation or reasoning of his own. (Hart 1982, 100, emphasis added)
At the same time, an authoritative utterance provides content-independent reasons for action. Compliance with this type of reasons is not conditional on what is being said (the contents of the proposition) but on who says it (recognition of authority status) (Hart 1982, 101–102; see also Friedman 1973, 65). Suppose that a general orders a soldier to attack an enemy village. This order must be executed because it is a general’s order (reflects authority status) and not because it tilts the soldier’s pre-existing balance of reasons (the soldier may have been worried that many non-combatants are present in the village). Nor is the soldier supposed to deliberate on the merits or demerits of the order (say, that the attack is almost certain to harm non-combatants). Hart generalises the point by noting that if a person in authority issues many different commands to the same subject (or the same command to different subjects), they all will be followed independently of their contents. But this is a concealed way of saying that commands become authoritative when they acquire certain generality and permanence or when they turn into standing orders or rules (see also Hart 1961, 9, 23, 55). As we shall see below, Hobbes understands authority in terms of rules. Let us now return to Anscombe’s analysis of authority. Her second claim is that state authority is necessarily coercive (1978, 144, 148). She alludes to Hobbes by observing that civil authority ‘bears the sword’ (Anscombe 1978, 149, 151). But if state officials claim a right to rule, which entails a right to use coercion, what justifies the latter right? This, for Anscombe, is what the fundamental question of political philosophy is all about (1978, 150). The puzzle of how authority is linked to coercion has generated two distinctive views in contemporary political thought. The authoritybased view is that authority comes first, and coercion comes second. Thus
coercive means are typically supposed to add efficacy to directives that have failed to guide the subjects (Green 1988, 75; Hart 1961, 196–197; 1982, 101; Raz 1990b, 15), and coercion is seen as a wrongful (because freedom-infringing) act that must be morally justified (Simmons 1999, 740). Conversely, on the coercion-based view, associated with Anscombe (1978) and Arthur Ripstein (2004), coerciveness is a constitutive feature of state authority. Chapter 5 interprets Hobbes by aligning him with the latter view. Anscombe distinguishes the justification of state authority from the justification of state coercion. State authority is justified because the state is the only agency that can fulfil a necessary task: to protect the people from violence (Anscombe 1978, 164–165; cf. Raz 1985b, 143, n. 5). Fulfilling this task demands an authority of the appropriate kind (large scale, coercive). What justifies the use of coercion by the state is the nature of the agency performing it—the state is a public authority, and not, as Wolff supposed, a group of people who rule over other people. The thought is that in order to avoid arbitrariness and partiality in the exercise of coercion, it must be carried out by a legal office or a system for the ‘administration of justice’ (Anscombe 1978, 146, 162–166). The image of the state, as an authority that holds a right (and not merely capacity) to make law, where law is a framework of rules, is shared by Anscombe (1978, 144, 147–148) and Hart (1961, 58–60 on rights; and p. 75 and Chap. 5 on rules), despite that Hart sees coercion as a non-essential feature of law (Hart 1961, 196–197). The state so portrayed is an inherently normative structure; it cannot be reduced to an organisation that governs by effectively issuing commands, threats, or sanctions. Hobbes himself emphasises the relation between law and authority, understood as a right to govern. ‘Law, properly is the world of him, that by right hath command over others’, he states in Leviathan (L XV, 217  emphasis added). Thus the mature Hobbes is not a simple command theorist of law, but a theorist of legal authority. And yet, in his earlier works, The Elements (1640) and De Cive (1642, 1647), he identifies power as the foundation of political order, a theme explored in Chapters 3 and 4. Commentators who draw evidence from De Cive are prone to interpret Hobbesian authority as a form of power. Such an interpretation has been defended by Robert Ladenson (1980). He grants that authority involves a right to rule but denies that this right correlates with an obligation to obey (Ladenson 1980, 37). This effectively severs the normative relation between rights and obligations presupposed on the normative conception of authority outlined above. The right to rule that Ladenson invokes cannot
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be a claim-right (since claim-rights entail obligations); rather, it is a ‘justification right’ or a right to provide justification when challenged (Ladenson 1980, 35–36).4 According to Ladenson, the state rules by wielding coercive power over its subjects, which is justified by the need to provide social peace and external defence. While the subjects have no moral obligation to obey coercive state power, they might accept it as legitimate for other, not strictly moral, reasons. Power is legitimate provided its subjects accept it (Ladenson 1980, 36). For Ladenson, the fact of obedience is a sufficient condition for state legitimacy: any de facto power, once acquiesced to, counts as legitimate power or authority. This leads to the question of state legitimacy, which pertains to coercion. On Ladenson’s reading of Hobbes, might makes right. The mere fact that the subjects of the state acquiesce in its coercive power renders this power legitimate or justified. The Hobbesian state on this construal does not differ in principle from a group of thugs who have managed to coerce a reluctant population into obedience. Raz and Simmons have objected that coercion cannot be legitimated by pointing back to the fact of coercion (or to its efficacy), its ground must be some independent moral principle. Raz criticises Ladenson for reducing authority to justified coercive power. If we knock down and lock away a person who suffers from a contagious disease in the interest of public health and safety, Raz remarks, we exercise coercive power with justification without thereby acquiring authority over this person (Raz 1985a, 116; see also Green 1988, 73). Authority presupposes an appeal to compliance by the person(s) subject to the authority (Raz 1985a, 116). In short, authority is a right to rule and ‘a right to rule entails a duty to obey’ (Raz 1985b, 140). In his turn Simmons (1999) insists that a distinction must be drawn between justification and legitimacy. ‘To justify an institution, in general’, Schmidtz writes, ‘is to show that it is what it should be or does what it should do’ (1996, 82). For Simmons justification implies a moral criterion. Thus, an action, practice or institution is as it ought to be because it meets the requirements of a principle such as prudential rationality, morality, or both (Simmons 1999, 740). Legitimacy, in contrast, reflects the actual fact of subjects accepting the claim to be ruled by an authority, manifest in a particular, space- and time-bounded community. Following John Locke, Simmons grounds legitimacy in the morally basic concept of consent as a relation between free and equal individuals (Simmons 1999, 745). Consent, an actual, non-coerced act of agreement, grounds morally state authority and by extension state coercion (Green 1988; cf. Raz 1990b,
16). As Simmons concludes, ‘a state’s (or government’s) legitimacy is the complex moral right it possesses to be the exclusive imposer of binding duties on its subjects, to have its subjects comply with these duties, and to use coercion to enforce the duties’ (1999, 746‚ emphasis added). This view restores the normative nexus between the right to rule and the obligation to obey and turns state legitimacy into an intrinsically moral concept. But it cannot defuse Ladenson’s challenge, which is that legitimacy need not be moral legitimacy. The subjects of a state can accept it as legitimate if it can secure a basic public order (and perhaps a subsistence minimum) even though it is otherwise grossly oppressive and unjust. In the next section, we shall consider Hobbes’s own view of authority and locate it on the map of political philosophy. What is notable is that Hobbes does not provide us with a concept of authority, but with a theory of authority however coarse-grained it may be.
Hobbes on Authority
Hobbes’s major contribution to political philosophy is said to lie in his theory of authority developed in Leviathan (Oakeshott 1975, 67; Raphael 2004, 71). Hobbes realises that historically most states have emerged through conquest. But power is not enough, since what sustains the state as a continuous institutional structure is the relation of authority that binds rulers and ruled. Hobbes, as his ideas have been interpreted here, steers a middle course between theorists like Raz, Simmons and Wolff who believe that state authority can be justified by basic moral principles (such as moral obligation, consent, or autonomy) and those like Ladenson who equate authority to de facto power. A central thesis of this book is that Hobbes’s conception of political philosophy cannot be assimilated to moral discourse but neither can it be seen as a defence of power relations. This part of the discussion suggests that authority for Hobbes constitutes a moral relation in a special sense. It is ‘moral’ not because it tracks some objective moral principles but because it represents an act of creation and self-creation which Hobbes calls ‘artifice’. The following analysis extends and modifies the interpretation of Hobbesian authority found in Oakeshott’s famous ‘Introduction to Leviathan’ (1946, revised version 1975). There Oakeshott locates the argument of Hobbes’s Leviathan in the tradition of ‘will and artifice’ (Oakeshott 1946, liii, xxviii–xxix; 1975, 60, 28–30).
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In the opening lines of Leviathan the state is described as an ‘artificial Man’. Hobbes contrasts nature with art, where art is the more basic category. Nature is the art of God; the civil state is the art of human beings (L, Introduction, 81 ). We may understand human art as a practical invention that transforms pre-existing materials available in nature and yields a work of art.5 For Hobbes, creating the state is not a matter of finding one’s place in a natural or rational order preordained by God or Reason writ large. Rather, human beings manufacture the state by deliberately transforming what is given, nature, with a view of satisfying their own, human wants. Individuals in Hobbes’s state of nature are a quarelsome lot, prone to hurting and obstructing each other. To overcome this unhappy condition they must bind themselves to a mode of conduct that would enable them to pursue self-chosen ends without the hazard of mutual harm or interference. The problem that Hobbes identifies does not derive from the external environment, like scarcity whose solution would be a scheme of resource allocation. It is internal—it has to do with what human beings do to one another when left to their natural inclinations, and the solution is to create devices for regulating conduct—rules. Hobbes therefore defines the state as a system of rules in Chap. VI of De Cive and Chap. XVIII of Leviathan (DC 6.9; L XVIII, 234 ). Its character does not point to any natural harmony; it is not an organic community where the individual and the common good are attuned, or a polis whose citizens share an understanding of the good life. The Hobbesian state demands its subjects to practise mutual forbearance precisely because they disagree about the good life. This form of state has no analogue in nature, it is a purely artificial construct. By ‘state’ Hobbes means not just any system of rules but a system of coercive rules, laws. Hobbes needs to show that its prospective subjects would be willing to accept to live under its coercive arrangements. This is a task in justification which cannot be discharged by positing the existence of state authority. Rather, as a first step, it has to be shown that the would-be subjects already possess some basic (non-political) kind of authority which they then grant to the state. With this idea in mind Hobbes develops three related notions: authority, author, and authorisation. Authority is the ‘right of doing any action’ (L XVI, 218 ). It implies a capacity for agency or conscious doing and making. Hobbes distinguishes an ‘author’, an originator of an action, from an ‘actor’ or representative who acts on the author’s behalf. Authorisation is the act of transferring one’s authority (one’s capacity to act) to another,
as when one appoints a representative. But since Hobbes presents authority as a right to act, it implies some degree of normativity over and above a capacity to act. As such it is parasitic on two genera of rights, distributed across two domains of interaction: the state of nature and the civil state. In Part II we shall examine rights in the state of nature, covered under Hobbes’s portmanteau notion ‘a right of nature’. In Leviathan the right of nature is defined as the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own Judgement, and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto. (L XIV, 189 )
This type of right is a function of the agent’s ‘natural liberty’. Hobbes adds that liberty consists in the ‘the absence of external Impediments’ (L XIV, 189 ) and concretely in the ‘absence of Opposition … or external Impediments of motion’ (L XXI, 261 ; see also Hood 1967, 150). In short, Hobbes’s right of nature discloses what one can do, insofar as one’s power to act is not blocked by external obstacles (Raphael 1962, 348). Inside the domain of the civil state, the concept of a right changes to that of civil right. This type of right is a function of civil liberty (Hobbes’s ‘liberty of the subject’) which represents a freedom to act or forbear, as determined by the silence of the civil law (L XXI, 271 ). A right, qua civil right, designates what one may do, what one is permitted to do (by the civil law). Authorisation and the Limits of Sovereign Authority For Hobbes, authority is a normative relation between agents created by an original act of authorisation. Political authority emerges whenever a number of individuals authorise one single person, a sovereign, to act on their behalf and for their benefit. Through this act they create the office of sovereign authority, and thereby make themselves subjects to the person occupying this office, the sovereign, who becomes their ruler (L XVII, 227–228 [87–88]; Oakeshott 1975, 43). This office is an artificial person that holds the prerogative to make, interpret and apply the law of the realm, by coercive means if necessary. The Hobbesian state, a ‘commonwealth’ or civitas, is a union between subjects and sovereign (L XVII, 227 [87–88]). The sovereign, be it an individual or a council, is not charged with the
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performance of a particular task (or tasks) but granted a general mandate to make, interpret, and apply a system of civil laws for all its subjects. This mandate is restricted to a realm of jurisdiction whose extension is territorial (it has borders separating it from neighbouring jurisdictions) as well as functional. The primary function of the civil law is to secure certain benefits to its subjects: salus populi, external defence of the commonwealth, and a minimum level of subsistence. Authorisation involves a transfer of rights, and one controversial issue concerns the limits on the types of rights that can be transferred to the Hobbesian sovereign. What the subject transfers is one’s right of nature held ab initio in the state of nature. Recall that the only limits on this type of right are physical impediments: this right allows everybody to do as he or she pleases (L XIV, 190 ). Hobbes says that in the act of sovereign authorisation the subject ‘gives up’ one’s right (L XVII, 227 ), which can be misleading if it is interpreted as a claim that the subjects retain no rights of nature having transferred them in full to the sovereign. The right of nature however is not a single monolithic right like the right to stand on one’s head. It is a basket of various rights, identifying different ways in which the agent can dispose of one’s natural liberty to do or forbear. Certain natural rights, to breathe, to take nutrients, to use fire, to not be physically confined to a space, cannot be given up because they are necessary for staying alive (L XIV, 192 ; XXI 268–269 [111–112]). Hobbes uses the term ‘a right of self-preservation’ for this set of inalienable rights of nature. Moreover, giving up one’s right, as Oakeshott notes, does not mean that the right is abandoned and extinguished but, rather, that it is transferred to a designated person, the sovereign (1975, 42–43). The point of transferring natural rights in this manner is that each of the subjects accepts that henceforth his or her originally unconditional right of nature would comply with the restrictions specified by civil law, the law made by the sovereign. What is transferred, then, is not the right of nature itself but the unconditionality of its exercise. On Oakeshott’s reading of Hobbes, each subject must part with the right to be governed by one’s own reason (Oakeshott 1975, 42; L XVII, 227 ). The right of nature is thereby interpreted as a right of private judgement. The idea is that once the state is in place, the individual no longer enjoys a freedom of private judgement in determining what acts are necessary to avoid being killed or defrauded by others, a freedom enjoyed without limitation in the state of nature, but must defer to the judgement of public authority and thus to the definition of ‘fraud’ or ‘murder’ stipulated by the civil law. The upshot is that when a
number of subjects authorise a public authority as their representative, part of the original right of nature of each subject mutates into a civil right to act within the limits of the civil law, and part of it, the right of self-preservation (which is not an object of transfer), is retained. The Logical Structure of Covenant Hobbes’s theory of political authorisation can be summed up in the thesis that the subjects are authors of everything which their sovereign does (L XVI, 220–221 ; XVIII 232 ; XX 279 ). The sovereign is an actor representing them (L XVI, 220–221 , XVII, 227 ). But if each subject, as an independent moral unit, is to be the author of the laws that the sovereign makes, this act of authorisation must be declared through an appropriate, first-person form, ‘I authorise …’. In Chap. XIV of Leviathan Hobbes discusses covenants and contacts as transactions based on a first-person declaration of will. A contract is a mutual transferring of a right between assignable parties with the view of obtaining some benefit (L XIV, 192 ). Specifically, it is a declaration of will whereby each party undertakes a commitment to a future performance that consists not simply in the conferral of an object to the other party but in the transfer of a right with respect to the object. Because each contractor binds only himself or herself to a performance, contracting assumes the first-person point of view. This declaration of will takes place in the present, whereas the performance can be discharged instantaneously or deferred until the future. Covenant is a deferred-in-time contract where the party who is yet to perform is to be trusted (L XIV, 193 ). We may say that covenant is a promise based on a moral relationship of trust. Of major significance for Hobbes’s moral and political theory is the so-called ‘covenant of mutual trust’ where both parties do not perform presently but must trust each other to do so at a later time (L XIV, 196 ). Entering into a covenant of this kind is extremely risky in the state of nature because in the absence of a coercive sovereign authority there is no assurance that individuals will keep their word. But why should covenant be the vehicle of the act of authorisation? Some logical and normative reasons may be pointed out. One logical rationale is that Hobbes wants to derive state authority from the idea of the subject as an ‘author’ who holds original power of agency. The author must decide, alone, whether to authorise another, a representative, to exercise this power
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vicariously. But an author, to deserve the name, cannot be a holder of vicarious power obtained from somebody else. Such as autonomous decisionmaker reasons from a first-person perspective, which is also the perspective of covenant. A second logical consideration is that a covenant is a one-to-one relation between designated individuals, by virtue of which they acquire obligations and rights. If John promises Samantha to water the plants in her garden while she is away, this obligation falls upon John and can be claimed, as a correlated right, by Samantha; it cannot be claimed by, or imposed on, anybody else other than the two parties involved. In contrast, a law is a general rule that regulates the conduct of an entire (usually anonymous) class of agents. A California county law that prohibits the watering of plants with drinkable water refers to all California residents and not to named individuals. The distinction between law and covenant reveals that Hobbes intends to generate a general system of laws, a civil state, out of a set of individual covenants. The one-to-one relation between persons characterises all covenants, including the one that sets up the machinery of the Hobbesian state, labelled ‘original contract’ or ‘social contract’ by later thinkers. Each person, separately, must authorise a common sovereign authority by transferring one’s rights of nature to it. ‘It is manifest, that men who are in absolute liberty, may, if they …please, give Authority to One man, to represent them every one’ (L XVIII, 240 ). This is the version Hobbes presents in Leviathan. In The Elements and De Cive the state is created via an act of power delegation, not authorisation. This delegation model implies a many-to-one relation. A number of individuals first associate themselves into a body politic, and the majority of this body in lieu of such delegated powers chooses a sovereign. In The Elements , every man covenants with every man ‘in consideration of the benefit of his own peace and defence … to stand to and obey, whatsoever the major part of their whole number, or the major part of such a number of them as shall be pleased to assemble at a certain time and place, shall determine and command’ (E II.2.2). This theory of majority rule is democratic rather than aristocratic or monarchical (Goldsmith 1969, xvi–xvii; Tuck 2015, 97–105). In De Cive, Hobbes’s line of reasoning is similar. Each would-be subject has to submit his or her will to the will of a common ruler or council, a submission undertaken via a covenant of everyone with everyone, agreeing that the will of the majority would count as the will of all. One notable difference from The Elements is that even though sovereignty is established by a majority vote, it cannot
be dissolved by such a vote. The reason is that the covenanters undertake a double obligation: towards each other, but also towards the sovereign: Wherefore what by the mutual contracts each one hath made with the other, what by the donation of right which every man is bound to ratify to him that commands, the government is upheld by a double obligation from the citizens, first, that which is due to their fellow-citizens, next, that which they owe to their prince. Wherefore no subjects, how many soever they be, can with any right despoil him who bears the chief rule, of his authority, even without his own consent. (DC VI.20, emphasis added)
The obligation to the sovereign remains valid in case the subjects subsequently will to be released from it, because, even if their will is unanimous, the sovereign alone is in a position to release them from this obligation. The implication is that the Hobbesian sovereign is not simply an embodiment of the people when they are united, as Rousseau thought, but that once instituted, the sovereign becomes an independent person with special, indeed, sweeping legal powers. The idea of personhood is foreshadowed in De Cive, though it acquires centrality only in Leviathan. The theory of sovereignty in Leviathan differs from that in De Cive in two major aspects. First, in De Cive Hobbes does not distinguish carefully between power and authority. Having observed that the sovereign’s task is to ‘make some common rules for all men and to declare them publicly’, Hobbes remarks that these rules or ‘laws of the city [are] the commands of him who hath the supreme power in the city. And the civil laws … are nothing else but the commands of him who hath the chief authority in the city, for the direction of the future actions of his citizens’ (DC VI.9, emphasis added). It looks as if Hobbes treats authority as a synonym for power. The problem is not just terminological. The concept of authority assumes rule by right, a right which must have been antecedently granted to the ruler by the subject’s autonomous declaration of will. To be autonomous this declaration of will cannot be expressed via proxy or majority rule: It has to be based on direct covenant. Thus, and this is the second difference, in Leviathan there is no ‘people’, no body politic that mediates between the individual subject and the sovereign (Oakeshott 1975, 65). The covenanters represent a ‘multitude’ of disassociated individuals each of whom directly empowers a common ruler. The snag is that the Hobbesian sovereign is not a party to the social contract (L XVIII, 230 ; Raphael 2004, 36–37). The one-to-one covenant
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that founds sovereign authority is not a direct relation between each private covenanter and the sovereign, but one between private covenanters themselves in relation to the sovereign. This is done in such a manner, Hobbes says, as if every man should say to every man, I Authorise and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, to this Man, or to this Assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy Right to him, and Authorise all his Actions in like manner. (L XVII, 227 , original emphasis)
The puzzle is, what role does the sovereign assume in the founding covenant? Some expositors have suggested that it has the status of a beneficiary (Malcolm 2002, 446), others that it is persona ficta (Oakeshott 1975, 204; cf. Skinner 1999, 22), and still others, that it is a person whose singular will displaces the wills of the covenanters (Oakeshott 1946, xxxviii; 1975, 65). While these ideas are not mutually exclusive, they emphasise different aspects of Hobbes’s conception of the sovereign. The idea of beneficiary both conceals and illuminates. It is suspect insofar as the one who stands to benefit from the transaction, as a third party, has no claim-rights against its direct parties (Hart 1955, 180). However, the Hobbesian sovereign has an exclusive right to demand that the subjects comply with the civil law and to enforce it against non-compliers. The insight of the beneficiary model is that it depicts the founding contract as a tripartite relation between two covenanting parties, and a third party which acquires personality through the outcome of their covenant. This party is a ‘feigned person’ as Hobbes puts it (L XVI, 217 ) or a persona ficta. A persona ficta is a corporation that has rights and can be sued in court, but which does not have a separate physical existence from its constituent members. The Normative Structure of Covenant So far the logical features of covenant in Hobbes were considered but it has important normative features as well. A covenant represents a promise, a normative relation between persons whereby, by declaring one’s will, a person places oneself under an obligation towards another (L XXI, 268 ). Philosophers sometimes use the term ‘obligation’ and ‘duty’ interchangeably but modern legal theorist Hart has usefully differentiated between the two. Obligation is created by an act of will, can be extinguished by will,
and depends on relations between particular persons, whereas duty is objectively existing and binding independently of human will and particularised human relations (Hart 1955, 179, n. 7). Hobbes’s doctrine of authority relies on the idea of obligation, as a product of subjective willing. It might be tempting to think that promissory obligation is a moral category. But promises and the obligations they entail are morally neutral, unless the reason for keeping one’s promise has been further specified (Jones 1966, 294). If this reason is profit or fear of adverse consequences, the promise is prudentially underpinned; and if the reason is keeping one’s word, the promise in moral in the formal sense in which morality tracks logical consistency. Hobbes claims that a subject has to obey the sovereign because one should honour a promise one has made. Thus making a promise which one intends not to keep is like willing and simultaneously not willing to do something. The defect is akin to a logical contradiction, the error of asserting and denying the same proposition at once, or what in the medieval ‘Schools’ was called ‘absurdity’ (L XIV, 191 ; DC 3.3). One drawback of the formal conception of promise keeping is that it does not discriminate between benevolent and harmful promises (threats): both can be kept because the agent has previously promised. A more suitable strategy is to introduce a substantive criterion of morality. One such criterion that Hobbes invokes is trust. As noted, a covenant (promise) is a moral relation between persons whose basis is trust. Charles Fried (1981, 16–17) has argued that the obligation to keep a promise is predicated on autonomy (respect) and trust. For Fried, the keeping of trust constitutes a social convention that grounds morally the expectation that one will perform as promised, and non-performance is betrayal of trust which amounts to a disrespect for the person. In advancing his view of trust, Hobbes does not appeal to a social convention; trust involves a belief in the veracity of the person, not merely in what the person says (L VII, 132 ). To trust another and to keep a covenant where the other party has not yet performed is to freely undertake a risk, by making oneself vulnerable to a non-performance by the other party (L XIV, 196 ). And if this trust is not abused (though the risk that it may be abused remains), a moral bond will be forged between the parties. Hobbesian morality, then, has its source in risk and performative vulnerability. The ‘keeping of faith’ and ‘violation of faith’ are primitive moral notions for Hobbes (L XIV, 193 ).
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Some philosophers, appeal to consent, as a moral feature of promises and agreements. The term consent is sometimes used to refer to the idea of deliberately undertaking obligation in a context of promising or contracting (Simmons 1979b, 318; 2001, 19). But consent can be seen as a normative device for according rights to others (Hart 1955, 185) and this is the meaning closest to Hobbesian authorisation as an act of creating authority. Recall that the result of Hobbes’s founding covenant among a number of agents was the creation of a sovereign authority which thereby acquired the right to decide for all of them. The flipside to this is that each would-be subject places oneself under an obligation towards the Hobbesian sovereign. But although voluntarily undertaken, this act serves to foreclose certain actable options in the future. Its gist is commitment. By undertaking an obligation to obey the sovereign now, freely, the Hobbesian deliberator commits oneself to certain restrictions on the scope of one’s future free action, as is consistent with a like freedom for all. Obligation is a non-voluntarist notion even though the decision to undertake an obligation is free. It would thus be a stretch to read Hobbes as a theorist of consent or as a contributor to the voluntarist tradition of political obligation more broadly (Martin 1980). This reading is supported by Hobbes’s contention that the authorisation of the sovereign by the subjects is an act of unity that goes beyond consent. ‘This is more than Consent, or Concord; it is a reall Unitie of them all, in one and the same person [the sovereign], made by Covenant of every man with every man …’ (L XVII, 227 ). Hobbes does not talk of any common will or common interest. For it is the unity of the representer, not of the represented, that is the mark of sovereign authority. The Hobbesian state is a product of a plurality of wills uniting in one single will (L XVII, 227 ). But a unity of this kind would be an absurdity if the sovereign were a physical person; therefore, it must be an artificial person. This artificial person is the animus of the civil law, and the sought unity is achieved in the system of civil laws that constitute the state. ‘The word “civil” in Hobbes means artifice springing from more than one will’, as Oakeshott points out (1946, xxix; 1975, 29). Hobbes, that is, believes that the subjects should be governed by laws, not by physical individuals. The Hobbesian sovereign, albeit a physical individual, does not exercise personal rule but is a bearer of the public office of sovereignty. But if sovereign authority is unitary in the way just described, it constitutes a singular, supreme prerogative to make the law of the realm (L XVIII, 237 ). For Hobbes there cannot be divided sovereignty (say)
between various branches of government or between these branches and the people. Students of Hobbes have often inferred from this that therefore sovereign authority is absolute (e.g., Knowles 2007, 40, n. 29), a diagnosis supported by Hobbes’s dictum at the beginning of Chap. XXII that ‘Power Unlimited is Absolute Sovereignty’. But this is a forced interpretation: the singularity, supremacy, and indivisibility of authority do not entail its absoluteness. Hobbes propounds the former set of features because he fears that uncertainty over who the sovereign is or what the civil law says will render the legal order ineffective. Civil law should possess the marks of finality and certainty—a legal pronouncement is meant to settle disputes over what counts as’ Meum Tuum, … Good, Evill, lawfull, and unlawful ’ (L XVIII, 234 ). But if there would be two or more authorities (such as Church and state) that simultaneously claim the supreme right to authoritatively make such pronouncements, the outcome would be uncertainty and chaos. This is why any given realm must be governed by a single, supreme, and indivisible sovereign authority. The proposition that sovereign authority is absolute is more complex. It can be understood in two distinct senses. The first concerns the transfer of natural rights (bar the right of self-preservation) to the sovereign. Hobbes assumes that this transfer is an irrevocable and thus an ‘absolute’ act. The Hobbesian sovereign is not an office which temporarily and revocably holds the trust of the people, as it is in John Locke’s social contract theory (Locke 1980). The authorisation granted to the sovereign ruler by the Hobbesian subjects does not contain a revocation clause that can be invoked on suspicion that the ruler has abused their trust. They can be released from their obligation to obey the sovereign either by the sovereign itself, or in cases where the latter is no longer able to protect the realm and guarantee their security (L XXI, 273–274 ). The second sense of ‘absolute’ designates the notion of having unlimited scope and function. This has been one of the most misunderstood aspects of Hobbes’s thought. As Hart writes, the idea that an authority is supreme or sovereign in a given legal system means that it stands higher on a relative scale, and not that it is unlimited (1961, 103).6 Of course it is true that the Hobbesian sovereign remains in the state of nature with respect to its subjects since it retains its right of nature against them (L XVIII, 230 ; Oakeshott 1946, xl; Raphael 2004, 36–37). (The sovereign is still bound by the law of nature, though.) But the original act of authorisation is not a blank cheque for the sovereign to act as it sees fit because its mandate is confined to a formal jurisdiction (the external relations between agents that
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are the proper object of legal regulation) as well as functional jurisdiction (public safety). For these reasons, Hobbesian sovereign authority cannot be ‘bound by no limits’.
Hobbes, as we have seen, combines the idea of an author, and its derivatives, authority, and authorisation, with the idea of subjective willing to produce a political philosophy of artifice. The Hobbesian state is a juridical authority that is public, coercive, and supreme in a realm. This authority emerges ‘from below’: it is generated by the subjects themselves and its generation occurs de novo. The act of authorising the Hobbesian sovereign is artificial, and so is the obligation to obey the civil law that stems from it. But if this is so, no need arises to justify the state by searching for an antecedent moral principle that is natural, objective, or ‘given’ in some sense. As it turned out, Hobbes’s conception of political philosophy is principally distinct from the views of contemporary political philosophers whose ideas were examined above because it derives from the notion of human agency and not from some objective moral universe. The hypothesis that the rationale for having the Hobbesian state is not that it is an institution whose grounding meets some prior moral standard, but that it creates the conditions for enjoying freedoms and offers better prospects for the individual than a life in the state of nature would have to be substantiated. Thus some of the questions to be addressed in subsequent chapters are, what kind of an interaction condition is a Hobbesian state of nature, and why is it a worse alternative than the civil state? Does it matter whether its participants are human beings or artificial beings, states? Is it necessary to exit the state of nature and institute a civil state? Part II will propose some answers to these questions by attending to Hobbes’s changing and complex views on the state of nature in The Elements , De Cive, and Leviathan.
Notes 1. In this chapter, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; Leviathan, edited
by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC ’. References to The Elements are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. These are sometimes termed, the perspective of political authority and the perspective of political obligation, see Sartorius (1999, 144). As is conventional, references to Kant’s works are to the Prussian Academy edition. Thus ‘GIV: 440’ stands for Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Vol. IV, Sect. 440. Raz argues that Ladenson seems to mix up the idea of ‘having a justification right to do A’ with the broader idea of being justified to perform A (doing A is alright). See Raz (1985a, 140, n. 3). Oakeshott writes: ‘a work of art is mental activity considered from the point of view of its cause’ (1946, xxviii; 1975, 28). As Hart notes, it is a mistake to assume ‘that somewhere in every legal system, even though it lurks behind legal forms, there must be a sovereign legislative power which is legally unlimited’ (Hart 1961, 102). Hart concludes that it is easy to confuse ‘supreme’ (or sovereign) which refers to a merely relative position on a scale, with ‘unlimited’ (ibid., 103).
Bibliography Anscombe, G.E.M. 1978. On the Source of the Authority of the State. In Authority (1990a), ed. Joseph Raz, 142–173. New York: New York University Press. Fried, Charles. 1981. Contract As Promise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Friedman, R.B. 1973. On the Concept of Authority in Political Philosophy. In Authority (1990a), ed. Joseph Raz, 56–91. New York: New York University Press. Goldsmith, Maurice M. 1969. Introduction to the Second Edition. In The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd edn, ed. Ferdinand Tönnies, v–xxi. London: Frank Cass. Green, Leslie. 1988. The Authority of the State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hart, H.L.A. 1955. Are There Any Natural Rights? The Philosophical Review 64 (2): 150–163. Hart, H.L.A. 1961. The Concept of Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hart, H.L.A. 1982. Commands and Authoritative Reasons. In Authority (1990a), ed. Joseph Raz, 92–114. New York: New York University Press.
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Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Hood, F.C. 1967. Hobbes’s Changing Conception of Liberty. The Philosophical Review 17 (67): 150–163. Jones, David E. 1966. Making and Keeping Promises. Ethics 76 (4): 287–296. Kant, Immanuel. 1997. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1785). Knowles, Dudley. 2007. The Domain of Authority. Philosophy 82 (319): 23–43. Ladenson, Robert. 1980. In Defense of a Hobbesian Conception of Law. In Authority (1990a), ed. Joseph Raz, 32–55. New York: New York University Press. Locke, John. 1980. Second Treatise of Government, ed. C.B. Macpherson. Indianapolis: Hackett (Originally published in 1690). Malcolm, Noel. 2002. Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations. In Noel Malcolm, Aspects of Hobbes, 432–456. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Martin, Rex. 1980. Hobbes and the Doctrine of Natural Rights: The Place of Consent in His Political Philosophy. The Western Political Quarterly 33 (3): 380–392. Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books. Oakeshott, Michael. 1946. Introduction to Leviathan. In Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1960), ed. Michael Oakeshott, vii–lxvi. Oxford: Blackwell. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Raphael, D.D. 1962. Obligations and Rights in Hobbes. Philosophy 37 (142): 345– 352. Raphael, D.D. 2004. Hobbes: Morals and Politics, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. Raz, Joseph. 1979. The Obligation to Obey the Law. In The Authority of Law, ed. Joseph Raz, 233–249. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Raz, Joseph. 1985a. Authority and Justification. In Authority (1990a), ed. Joseph Raz, 115–141. New York: New York University Press. Raz, Joseph. 1985b. The Obligation to Obey: Revision and Tradition. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 139 (1): 139–155. Raz, Joseph (ed.). 1990a. Authority. New York: New York University Press. Raz, Joseph. 1990b. Introduction. In Authority, ed. Joseph Raz, 1–19. New York: New York University Press. Ripstein, Arthur. 2004. Authority and Coercion. Philosophy & Public Affairs 32 (1): 2–35.
Sartorius, Rolf. 1999. Political Authority and Political Obligation. In The Obligation to Obey the Law, ed. William A. Edmundson, 143–158. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Schmidtz, David. 1996. Justifying the State. In For and Against the State, ed. John T. Sanders and Jan Narveson, 81–97. Rowman and Littlefield: Boston. Simmons, A. John. 1979a. Moral Principles and Political Obligations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Simmons, A. John. 1979b. The Principle of Fair Play. Philosophy & Public Affairs 8 (4): 307–337. Simmons, A. John. 1987. The Anarchist Position: A Reply to Klosko and Senor. Philosophy and Public Affairs 16 (3): 269–279. Simmons, A. John. 1999. Justification and Legitimacy. Ethics 109 (4): 739–771. Simmons, A. John. 2001. Justification and Legitimacy: Essays on Rights and Obligations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Skinner, Quentin. 1999. Hobbes and the Purely Artificial Person of the State. The Journal of Political Philosophy 7 (1): 1–29. Smith, M.B.E. 1973. Is There a Prima Facie Duty to Obey the Law. Yale Law Journal 82 (5): 950–976. Tuck, Richard. 2015. The Sleeping Sovereign. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wellman, Christopher Heath. 2005. Samaritanism and the Duty to Obey the Law. In Is There a Duty to Obey the Law, ed. Christopher H. Wellman and A. John Simmons, 1–89. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wolff, Jonathan. 1996. Anarchism and Scepticism. In For and Against the State, ed. John T. Sanders and Jan Narveson, 99–118. Boston: Rowman and Littlefield. Wolff, Robert Paul. 1970. In Defense of Anarchism. New York: Harper and Row.
The State of Nature in The Elements
The general thrust of The Elements is that the unregulated realm of the state of nature is associated with certain inconveniences, which can be ameliorated by a rational morality contained in the ‘laws of nature’.1 The challenge is to understand what exactly these inconveniences involve and what their cause is. In taking up this puzzle, any Hobbes interpreter must decide whether Hobbes’s state of nature begins with the right of nature, covenants, and the laws of nature or rather, further back, with postulates about human nature. The problem of human nature concerns the basic properties of a human being, and that of the state of nature pertains to the relations among multiple human beings. My approach connects the two elements: It construes Hobbes’s doctrine of human nature as a necessary input for his conclusions about the state of nature (a similar approach is Sorell 1990). Relevant here is Part I of The Elements , ‘Concerning Men as Persons Natural’ (E, The Order, xiv). It contains sections on human nature—comprising the ‘discretive faculties’ of perceiving and thinking, and the ‘motive faculties’ of desiring and willing (the passions)—on the state of nature (the ‘condition of men in mere nature’) which includes the right of nature and covenants, and on the laws of nature (‘natural laws ’). The next section is devoted to Hobbes’s account of the passions, the following two focus on the right of nature and the laws of nature.
© The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_3
The Passions in The Elements
Hobbes’s view of the passions is closely linked to his conception of mind. The mind has two realms—the realm of cognition (sense, perception, imagination, and thought), and the realm of conation (the passions and the will) (E I.1.7, I.6.9). The passions, or desires, originate in certain mental operations: Hobbes refers to them as ‘passions of the mind’. In The Elements his aim is to provide a causal account of the passions, where causes are ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling’ agents (E I.4.2, cf. DCor II.9.3).2 He asks, what mechanism does generate certain passions inside the human body? How do they interact with sense and thought? What impact do they have on conduct? He offers the following causal explanation. Conceptions (images or thoughts) are really motions in the brain, and passions (desires) are really motions around the heart (E I.7.1). When motions in the brain, caused by external stimuli, get transmitted to the heart, they cause quickening of the ‘vital motion’. (Vital motion is involuntary motion in a living body such as blood circulation, heartbeat, sweating, or digestion). This quickening of the vital motion constitutes pleasure (‘delight’), in a physiological sense (E I.7.1). Thus, whenever a perceived object causes pleasure, the sentient body will start moving towards it. Such an infinitesimal beginning of internal motion directed towards an external object of perception represents ‘endeavour’ (E I.7.2), the most elementary form of ‘animal motion’ (voluntary motion). From this Hobbes derives the concept of ‘desire’ (‘appetite’) and its converse, ‘aversion’: desire is internal motion towards an object that pleases; aversion is internal motion away from an object that displeases (E I.7.2). (Desire in the broad sense includes not just desire for a thing, or desire in the narrow sense, but also aversion from the thing). The psychological doctrine that the early Hobbes subscribes to is that the individual desires that which pleases. More fundamentally, the concept of endeavour is Hobbes’s monistmaterialist response to Cartesian dualism. Because this concept supposes that physiological pleasure is caused by perceptions in the mind themselves caused by external physical stimuli, it opens the door for redescribing the categories of human psychology in the language of physiology, and, ultimately, physics. Francis McNeilly (1968, 105, 116–117) has noted that Hobbes’s notion of endeavour designates a simple reaction in a living body to a presently operating external stimulus.3 This notion can explain the relation between desire and present pleasure, but not for that between desire and expected pleasure (McNeilly 1968, 114). This is a serious limitation
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since the two cardinal passions in The Elements —fear of death and ‘glory’ (desire for precedence)—are both future-directed. Fear amounts to a desire to avert future pain (in dying), and glory, to a desire to bring about a future pleasure (in precedence) (McNeilly 1968, 114). This suffices as a rough sketch of Hobbes’s view of the passions in their cognitive aspect, as ‘mind operations’. We now turn to their conative aspect, as drivers of conduct.
Throughout his writings on human nature, Hobbes distinguishes between the generic passions and what we may term the particular passions. The generic passions include hope and fear, which in Chap. IX of The Elements are defined thus: ‘[h]ope is expectation of good to come, as fear is the expectation of evil’ (E I.9.8). Hobbes is mostly occupied with the particular passions such as anger, courage, charity, pity, magnanimity, and glory. Glory is by far the most important particular passion. Hobbes defines it as ‘triumph of the mind … which proceeds from the imagination or conception of our own power, above the power of him that contendeth with us’ (E I.9.1). Glory appeals to power and to its social acknowledgement or ‘honour’ (E I.8.5). Glory and honour are, in Gabriella Slomp’s apt characterisation, ‘distorting mirrors’ reflecting a person’s power (2000, 39). Indeed, ‘Glory tends to enlarge the projection of one’s power, while honour tends to reduce it, because [as Hobbes claims, E I.17.9] “every man’s passion weigheth heavy in his own scale, but not in the scale of his neighbour” (Slomp 2000, 39). In The Elements (E I.9.1) Hobbes distinguishes between three forms of glory: well-grounded glory where the individual holds power properly recognised by others (E I.9.20), false glory where the presumed social recognition is feigned, and vainglory which rests on imaginary power and discloses a lack of ability in the agent. Vainglory represents daydreaming about deeds that ‘never were done’ (E I.9.1). And yet, it is not a solipsistic act since the vainglorious agent cannot fabricate the necessary social recognition requisite to validate one’s claim to power. This form of recognition must be expressed in public signs of approval including words of praise, gifts, emulation of conduct, acts of submission (E I.8.6). Hobbes has little interest in the folly of the vainglorious individual, as a solitary actor. Rather, he wants to ascertain the nature of a domain of interaction which emerges when a relatively high number of vainglorious individuals begin to encounter each other regularly. At the
end of Chap. IX of The Elements he likens this interaction domain to a ‘race’ where there is ‘no other goal, nor other garland, but being foremost’ (E I.9.21). This race, Hobbes tells us, helps us memorise the passions. Thus: To endeavour, is appetite. … To consider him behind, is glory. To consider him before, humility. To lose ground with looking back, vainglory. … To be in breath, hope. … To break through a sudden stop, anger. To break through with ease, magnanimity. … Continually to be out-gone, is misery. Continually to out-go the next before, is felicity. And to forsake the course, is to die. (E I.9.21)
Hobbes’s race simile is not just a useful mnemonic device. It is a philosophical milestone: It represents a model of the state of nature, a general description of agent relations prior to civil society. The term ‘race’ reveals that Hobbes thinks of the state of nature as a sphere of competition whose common currency is social power (see McNeilly 1968, 138–141; Oakeshott 1975a, 37; Herbert 1989, 95).4 Such Hobbesian competitors are not enemies: They share a common understanding of social power and its value, even while having conflicting interests over particular goods. In The Elements there is no explicit definition of power. Hobbes simply lists various types of power—capacities of body and mind (strength and knowledge), social power (status, wealth, prestige), good luck (E I.8.4). What may be inferred from his statements is that power is an antagonistic relation, a balance of forces. ‘Power simply is no more’, Hobbes says, ‘but the excess of the power of one above that of another’ (E I.8.4). Thus, A’s exercise of power is necessarily an impediment on B’s exercise of power (McNeilly 1968, 138). What remains unclear is whether the pursuit of power is a means or an end in itself. That the typical Hobbesian individual seeks to be ‘foremost’ suggests that power may be a means to one’s ends initially but that it quickly turns into an absolute end.
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It follows that Hobbes’s ‘race’ idiom would be illuminating for those inclined to regard the state of nature as a domain of power competition. But this idiom has its drawbacks. Notably, it makes attractive the option of remaining in the state of nature since one must stay in the race in order to win it (Oakeshott 1975a, 40; 1975b, 88). Another problem is that in Chap. XIV of The Elements Hobbes differentiates between two classes of individuals in the state of nature, ‘moderate’ and ‘vainglorious’. Unlike those who strive to be ‘foremost’, the moderate are ready to settle for equality. The inconsistency here is that the race model presupposes that all individuals (and not merely some individuals) are competitively orientated; in this constellation there is hardly any room for moderates (McNeilly 1968, 139–140, 163). Further, Hobbes intends to show that the competitive struggle for power and precedence will spur physical violence. For it seems that there will be no incentive to leave the natural condition unless this condition poses an existential danger to life and limb. But it is impossible to derive physical violence from the lead premise of vainglory, as long as it is taken to be a universal property of human nature. True, vainglorious people are likely to harm each other’s pride or interests while interacting, but it does not follow from this that they will be prepared to harm each other physically—they might, or they might not. The role of direct physical violence is attenuated in Hobbes’s account because the concept of a race assumes that the good sought by competitors is not just power but its social recognition (Oakeshott 1975a, 38; 1975b, 88, 92). The individual stung by vainglory is like an actor who craves the acclaim of an audience, so eliminating this audience would be irrational, as Hobbes admits (E I.9.6). Accepting the premise that all individuals in the state of nature are vainglorious and therefore that the race for the social recognition of power is ubiquitous invalidates Hobbes’s intended conclusion that the state of nature is a realm of physical violence. If we adopt Hobbes’s alternative premise from Chap. XIV, stating that some individuals are vainglorious, and some are moderate, it will lend stronger support for the conclusion that the state of nature is a domain of physical violence. Hobbes begins by noting that the moderate are ‘obnoxious’ (E I.14.3) to the vainglorious, and that mutual diffidence will develop between these two groups. But in The Elements the argument that diffidence leads to anticipatory violence remains incomplete. It is explicated in the Preface to the second edition of De Cive (DC, Preface, 12). To construct it, Hobbes connects the premise of diffidence to a premise
of incomplete knowledge in a situation of first encounter. If two parties meet for the first time in the state of nature neither can be certain about the identity of the other—that is, whether the other is a moderate or a glory-seeker. Uncertainty of this kind generates mutual mistrust, and mistrust promotes pre-emptive attacks. This ‘first encounter’ scenario gives us a second model of Hobbes’s state of nature. We may term it a ‘diffidence model’ to indicate that it designates a realm of uncertainty, mistrust, and anticipatory violence. To be sure, interactions in the state of nature can turn violent for reasons other than mutual mistrust. Hobbes hypothesises that whenever two or more individuals want the same object which they cannot divide or enjoy in common, their altercation will be decided by force (E I.14. 5). We shall return to this point about incompatible objectives in Chapter 4 but for now we can register that it is logically independent both from the ‘race’ model where the vainglorious seek pre-eminence, and from the ‘diffidence’ model holding that prior to interaction the identity of agents remains opaque.
Fear of Death
Apart from vainglory, another particular passion central to The Elements is fear of death. Hobbes appeals to it in describing the ‘state of war’, a state-ofnature condition drawn to its extreme, where each individual experiences continual anxiety of being assaulted or killed by an opponent. By ‘war’ Hobbes means ‘that time wherein the will and intention of contending by force is either by words or actions sufficiently declared; and the time which is not war is peace’ (E I.14.11). Fear of death, we might say, casts a bridge between Hobbes’s doctrine of human nature (a human being as such) and his doctrine of the state of nature (human beings in their mutual relations). As it may be recalled, the passion of vainglory entails a model of competition for social power (Tuck 1996, 184). By contrast, fear of death is part of a different model that links power to mutual insecurity. Power in this case is an instrument for augmenting the safety of the individual in a condition of mutual insecurity. With respect to mutual insecurity, Hobbes’s contention is that in the state of nature everyone is equally vulnerable to bodily harm since even the weakest individual can kill the strongest (E I.14.2). With respect to power, he contends that in the state of nature no single agent normally would have enough power to subdue all the rest. Hence, no individual is powerful enough to enjoy safety for long: the outcome is rampant insecurity and ‘diffidence’ among all (E I.14.14). The result is a fear-based
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model of diffidence to be contrasted with the glory-based model of diffidence noted in the previous section. Henceforth we shall refer to this fear-based model as Hobbes’s basic diffidence model. It counts as basic because fear of death suffices to generate the model without recourse to additional premises such as vainglory. Although fear of death is a passion, it has a cognitive component, a belief in the prospect of being killed (or severely harmed) by another agent. In the natural condition of humankind this belief is generalised: everybody believes that everybody else can launch a lethal attack. And since there is no certain way of identifying this potential attacker, such a domain of interaction is one of total diffidence or uncertainty. Correlatively, the glory-based model of diffidence—we may now rename it a mitigated diffidence model—assumes the presence of two classes of agents, those who suffer from vainglory and those who do not (moderates). In the state of nature there is no sure way to tell who is who, so one has to place a bet by identifying a stranger as probably moderate (and thus safe to interact with) or, alternatively, as probably vainglorious (and thus as dangerous). But this risky bet may misfire once interaction begins. Hobbes’s discussion of diffidence anticipates the distinction between uncertainty (where probabilities cannot be assigned to uncertain outcomes) and risk (which allows for the estimation of probabilities) (see Knight 2006).
The Right of Nature
Having outlined the passions in Chaps. VII to XIII of The Elements , Hobbes proceeds to analyse the set of human relations that make up the state of nature in Chaps. XIV to XIX (with an interlude on God in Chap. XI). His is primarily concerned with the limiting case or the state of nature construed as a state of war. The state of war is a result of the conjunction of two factors: (1) certain conflict-generating passions such as vainglory and overlapping desires for the same thing (E I.14.5), and (2) a non-normative relation between individuals called a right of nature (E I.14.11). By itself, neither factor suffices to produce the state of war. Hobbes thinks that morality can develop in the state of nature, and that observing its rules will minimise the detrimental effects of the corrosive passions and the right of nature. This morality comprises normative relations: covenants and the laws of nature.5 What Hobbes is trying to do is to arrive
at normative relations between persons (laws of nature, covenants) commencing from non-normative relations (the right of nature) or to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. A major theoretical innovation is Hobbes’s naturalist defence of the right of nature. This right has its roots in the natural desire of individuals to attain bonum sibi, ‘that which is good for themselves and to avoid that which is hurtful but most of all that terrible enemy of nature, death, from whom we expect both the loss of all power, and also the greatest bodily pains in losing it’ (E I.14.6). For Hobbes, the good—or the end of human action—is determined subjectively. ‘Every man, for his own part, calleth that which pleaseth [him] … GOOD, and that EVIL which displeaseth him’ (E I.7.3). Analogously, ‘right’ (in the expression ‘right of nature’) is not an objective moral principle but a subjective liberty: It is the natural capacity of a designated individual to act or to forbear from acting. Hobbes concludes, ‘It is therefore a right of nature: that every man may preserve his own life and limbs, with all the power he hath’ (E I.14.6; emphasis added). The term ‘may preserve’ can be understood as a normative permission to act or forbear from acting (McNeilly 1968, 177; Raphael 2004, 32). But by it Hobbes means ‘can preserve’ as will be clarified in the next paragraph; the limit of the right of nature is the agent’s own power and ability (E I.14.6; cf. Raphael 1962, 350). Stated differently, the right of nature can be effectively exercised if one has sufficient power to do the intended action. This might suggest that this right is unlimited and yet, there are certain limits to it. The right of nature allows the agent only to do what is necessary to preserve one’s life. In The Elements Hobbes identifies the state of nature with its logical extreme, a state of war, where all individuals are exposed to mortal danger. Under this condition, using the right of nature for purposes of survival is a policy consistent with reason. Hence, ‘it is not against reason that a man doth all he can to preserve his own body and limbs, both from death and pain’ (E I.14.6; emphasis added). Three aspects of Hobbes’s argument are noteworthy. First, harms to ‘body and limb’ are flagged, excluding mind-dependent harms (threats, offences). Second, the right of nature is defended on naturalist grounds. Hobbes posits that the end of this right is self-preservation, and if we enquire why self-preservation is desirable Hobbes’s answer simply is that every living being wants to stay alive. This answer is implied by his reference to death as ‘that terrible enemy of nature’. Hobbes’s position is circular: it does not explain but merely restates the concept of self-preservation. And yet this circularity is
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not vicious for if we assume, as Hobbes does, that the desire to live is ingrained in us by nature, it follows that no one should be blamed for striving to preserve oneself, through whatever means are available. Hobbes captures this insight by defining the right of nature as ‘blameless liberty of using our own power and ability …’ (E I.14.6). Both arguments that seeking self-preservation is not against reason, and that it is not against nature are negatively stated: They do not constitute a positive justification for the right of nature. Third, the right of nature is a basket of rights. When speaking loosely, Hobbes refers to it as a right of self-preservation but when analysing it, he distinguishes different species of rights which, taken as a set, provide the full description of the genus ‘right of nature’. At 14.7 of The Elements , Hobbes introduces the principle that whoever wills the end also wills the means. In the state of nature a common and impartial arbitrator is lacking, and every individual has the right to judge what means can secure one’s survival. In the next paragraph, Hobbes equates the right of nature to the right to be a judge in one’s cause. Under the natural condition where multiple individuals coexist, this right becomes a ‘right of all men to all things’ (E I.14.10; see Warrender 1957, 61). The idea of a right to everything is an exaggeration since every agent is constrained by the limits of one’s own power as well as by environmental impediments including other agents (their bodies and physical actions). But these are natural or physical limits, not moral, prudential or legal limits. Hobbes’s term, a right of nature, is apposite. What happens when a multitude of agents, each claiming a right to everything, cross each other’s paths? One concern is that the mutually unrestrained pursuits of separate individuals cancel each other—a condition where everyone holds the right to everything is equivalent to one where no one has a right to anything (E I.14.10). Another concern, specific to The Elements , is not the lack of liberty, but the lack of security which begets the state of war. Egress from the state of war can be achieved in two ways. The first is by an agent who holds irresistible power. Hobbes’s consideration is that ‘danger [proceeds] from the equality between men’s forces’ (EE I.14.13) and that the quest for precedence among potential rivals can be halted only by an overwhelming power that is able to subdue all of them. Thus, Hobbes declares that ‘in the state of nature might is right’ (E I.14.14). But because in that natural state the balance of forces can change unpredictably, power preponderance is a contingent solution
to the problem of mutual insecurity. Hobbes claims that a more stable solution is recommended to us by reason.
Reason and the Laws of Nature The Normative Status of the Laws of Nature
Earlier on we noted Hobbes’s observation that the state of nature is not bereft of morality. The core of this pre-political morality consists of ‘laws of nature’: principles of action intended to govern the transactions of agents apart from civil society insofar as these agents are rational. (The laws of nature are discussed in Chaps. XV to XIX of The Elements ). There is one fundamental law of nature from which particular laws of nature can be derived. Hobbes identifies this fundamental law with reason. ‘There can therefore be no other law of nature than reason, nor no other precepts of NATURAL LAW, than those which declare unto us the ways of peace, where the same may be obtained, and of defence where it may not’ (E I.15.1). Reason has two roles, theoretical (deductive) and practical (actionguiding). Hobbes emphasises the practical role of reason in guiding the rational agent towards an end—peace, where ‘peace’ represents a state of mutual security and predictability. Theoretically construed, then, Hobbes’s laws of nature are rules of reason (E I.15.1; I.17.14); practically construed, they are peacemaking devices (E I.15.2; I.17.15). But what exactly is a law of nature? It is an ought statement that prescribes action. Concretely, it represents a hypothetical (if-then) proposition (Oakeshott 1975b, 96; Raphael 2004, 32, 37, 52–53), stipulating how one ought to behave towards others, if one wants to survive in the state of nature. Hobbes calls hypothetical prescriptions of this kind ‘maxims’ or ‘precepts’. The aim of each maxim is to determine a general course of action, or a ‘policy’, for the future. It has a subjective as well as an intersubjective dimension. Its source of authority is the subject, who alone is in a position to give himself or herself the requisite prescription. At the same time, each law of nature is supposed to regulate the interaction between multiple subjects in the state of nature—its domain of application is intersubjective. While Hobbes’s laws of nature all have an identical goal, peaceful coexistence, each represents a distinct policy for achieving it. Although in The Elements Hobbes does not number them, there are about twenty such laws.
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The two laws immediately following the fundamental law of nature prescribe the making and keeping of covenants. The practice of covenanting would allow individuals to create, as well as to change, normative relations between themselves such as rights, obligations, and statuses. Thus, a special law of nature demands divesting oneself from the right to everything, as a step which enables the making of covenants. As Hobbes explains, this does not require giving up all the liberties stemming from the right of nature but only those that provoke the state of war. ‘Nor doth the law of nature command any divesting of other rights, than of those only which cannot be retained without the loss of peace’ (E I.17.2). Apart from being relinquished, the right of nature can be transferred, typically with a view to some benefit for oneself. This transfer occurs when people enter into agreements or ‘covenants’ (E I.15.8-9). A ‘covenant’, Hobbes’s term of art, designates a promising relation between persons grounded in a moral relationship of trust. If two agents agree on a future performance, say Anna will help Bernd with his crops tomorrow, and Bernd will help Anna with hers next month, each has to trust the other to carry out what has been promised in the time to come. But since agents can make false promises and trust can be abused, a law of nature prescribes the keeping of covenants (E I.16.1). A separate cluster of laws of nature serves to defuse the dangerous passions, epitomised by vainglory, by recommending policies of equity (allowing every man to retain the same rights as oneself, E I.17.2), non-revengefulness (E I.16.10), and most importantly, the acknowledgement of mutual equality (E I.17.1). Further laws of nature identify conflict resolution procedures such as the drawing of lots (to manage clashes over indivisible goods) or public adjudication (to prevent private parties from being judges in their own cause). Publicly appointed judges must be disinterested, impartial, and freely chosen by the disputants (E I.17.6-7). Additional laws of nature from Chap. XVI of The Elements permit everybody an access to the free market, and grant ambassadors safe passage in wartime. In terms of substantive contents, Hobbes’s laws of nature reproduce the conventional rules of social morality (Kavka 1983, 124; Raphael 2004, 56, 75). Hobbes does not categorise these laws as social conventions but insists on their unalterable character (E I.18.4). To understand his position we must bear in mind that the laws of nature represent freedom limiting devices: their task is to constrain the originally unrestricted liberty associated with the right to everything. In the state of nature, the Hobbesian rational agent enjoys freedom of action determined by the silence of the laws of nature. But although agents can decide to further limit—and in this
sense, change—the freedom of action left to them by the laws of nature by entering into agreements, no agreement can change the laws of nature themselves. ‘In sum, a man’s own consent may abridge him of the liberty which the law of nature leaveth him, but custom not; nor can either of them abrogate either these, or any other law of nature’ (E I.17.11; original emphasis). Hobbes’s general point is that the laws of nature are not the product of human agreement but logical conditions for making agreements. Of special philosophical interest is the formal aspect of the laws of nature. The term ‘form’ can stand for logical form. Hobbes, like Kant after him, takes the rules of morality to have the logical form of imperatives (Taylor 1938, 408, 411; Raphael 2004, 32). For Kant, the supreme principle of morality, is the categorical imperative which we may paraphrase as: ‘You ought to do x (come what it may)’, where ‘doing x’ comprises acts done from duty (G IV: 420).6 The range of this x includes absolute injunctions such as ‘Act in such a way that [you] could also will that [your] maxim should become a universal law’ (G IV: 402; 4: 421) or ‘Treat every rational being as an end in itself and never as a means only’ (G IV, 429). In contrast, Hobbes’s fundamental law of nature ‘declare[s] onto us the ways of peace, where the same may be obtained, and of defence, where it may not’ (E I.15.1). It represents what Kant calls a hypothetical imperative with an ‘ifthen’ form: ‘If you wish to survive in the state of nature, then you ought to do x’. Here ‘x’ ranges over the substantive contents of particular laws of nature such as ‘behave modestly’, ‘try to fit in’, ‘do not seek revenge’, and so on. Hobbes uses this hypothetical form to explicate the laws of nature as prudential maxims (Barry 1968, 127, 129; Nagel 1959, 69, 81; Oakeshott 1975b, 96, 107; Raphael 2004, 52–53, 56, 70, 78; Watkins 1965, 83), as indicated below. An additional sense of ‘form’ is implicit in Hobbes’s description of the laws of nature as rational precepts. It may be understood on the analogy of a formal parameter in mathematics which restricts the range of admissible variables to a certain class, (say) the class of real numbers. The formal restriction Hobbes imposes on the laws of nature is that they are laws of reason. Reason What is reason? The account in The Elements is not as clear as we might wish it to be, especially because Hobbes employs the term ‘reason’ in two senses. In Chap. V, on language, he introduces the concept of ‘right reason‘. The predicate ‘right’ reveals the presence of a criterion or criteria that
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govern the proper use of reason. Right reason, Hobbes writes, is reasoning (‘ratiocination‘) which begins with indubitable precepts, established by experience, proceeds by avoiding ‘all deceptions of sense and equivocation’, and arrives at conclusions (E I.5.11-12). Ratiocination is a syllogistic procedure: it connects words into propositions, and propositions into syllogisms (Barnouw 2008, 39). By default, propositions are linguistic (composed of names) which reveals that ‘right reasoning’ is linguistic and cannot be mere non-verbal thinking. Since for Hobbes language is the quintessential manifestation of ‘artifice‘, reason as right reasoning is an artificial faculty acquired by learning. But in Chap. XV in the passage where he describes the law of nature, Hobbes articulates a distinct conception of reason, not as an artificial but rather as a natural faculty: ‘Reason is no less of the nature of man than passion, and is the same in all men, because all men agree in the will to be directed and governed in the way to that which they desire to attain, namely their own good, which is the work of reason’ (E I.15.1). Here Hobbes is referring to practical reason (which he equates to reason in its natural function), whereas in Chap. V he was describing theoretical reason (which he equates to reason in its linguistic function). Hobbes wants to explain the relation between practical reason and the will. He assumes that the will just is desire—it is the last desire or aversion in a chain of alternating desires and aversions that precede an action, a chain he labels ‘deliberation’ (E I.12.1). In the passage just quoted, he claims that all individuals desire (or will) their own good but that attaining the good requires support and guidance from reason. Reason here is both practical and instrumental: it is a practical capacity of finding the best means to a given end. In the same passage Hobbes remarks that ‘reason is the same in all men’, thereby contrasting its universality with the particularity of desire. In contemporary terms we may say that if R is a reason for agent A to do x, it can, in principle, be a reason for any other agent to do x if similarly situated. In Chap. XVII of The Elements Hobbes sums up his discussion of the laws of nature by emphasising the universality of reason. ‘And therefore he that forseeth the whole way to his preservation… must also call it good, and the contrary evil. And this is that good and evil, which not every man in passion calleth so, but all men by reason’ (E I.17.14, emphasis added). But the fact that the laws of nature are rational precepts does not mean that agents in the state of nature will necessarily adopt these as maxims of action. What would compel Hobbesian agents to abandon their original liberty and adopt the constraints recommended by the laws of nature
instead? Hobbes provides a prudential justification for the laws of nature, as action-guiding principles. Prudence Hobbes’s point is that the laws of nature enable individuals to recognise what is good for them as opposed to what they believe is good. This contrast implies a distinction between desire (what one wants) and self-interest (what one should want), which underpins the normative idea of prudence.7 Having a second helping of the cake may be what one desires but it is imprudent (it vitiates one’s interest in health). Analogously, acting on the right of nature—that is, acting without restraint—can be imprudent because what one subjectively believes is good (for one’s survival) is often different from what is good. The individual may aspire to be acknowledged as superior to others, but, as the law of nature against pride shows, displaying arrogance will only land one in trouble. The laws of nature introduce prudential limits on conduct in the form of various policies that can curb the dangerous liberty stemming from the right of nature and ensure the agent’s self-preservation. Reason in this context determines the policies of action (the laws of nature) in the service of prudence (self-interest). Prudential reasoning represents a type of hypothetical reasoning (‘If you wish to stay alive, then seek peace’) or, more generally, conditional reasoning. The fundamental law of nature is not an absolute injunction, ‘Seek Peace (come what it may)’, but a conditional one, Seek peace ‘where the same may be obtained, and of defence where it may not’ (E I.15.1). The general class of conditional propositions is larger than the special class of propositions of prudence (self-interest). The general rule ‘Seek peace where the same may be obtained, and of defence where it may not’ expresses a logical condition for successful interaction in Hobbes’s state of nature because it shows that, in general, all individuals would be better off adhering to the rule than not.8 But successfully enacting the laws of nature, by a specific individual on a given occasion, presupposes that certain contingent conditions would have to be fulfilled as well. A particular agent would be rationally justified to act in the state of nature as prescribed by the laws of nature only if it safe to do so (E I.17.10). For Hobbes, the safety of each individual is a function of the security of all individuals combined, which is a measure of their mutual vulnerability. Whether it would be safe for A to do x depends on the overall level of security in a given interaction domain and this depends on what the rest of the agents (B, C, D …) in that domain
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are doing. Security is a contingent condition that must be met before the laws of nature can be followed on specific occasions (Warrender 1957, 53, 68). The corollary to this last observation is that it would be imprudent to obey the laws of nature in all circumstances. It would be self-destructive to keep covenants when no one else keeps them or to be honest when everybody else is a liar (E I.17.10). The laws of nature, Hobbes concludes, always bind in the foro interno (in the internal realm of consciousness), but in the foro externo (in the external realm of action) only after a sufficient level of security has been attained (E I.17.10). This is a distinction between the inner realm of thought, desire and intention, and the external realm of action and interaction. For Hobbes, one has an obligation to intend to act as prescribed by the laws of nature, which entails no obligation to act on these laws. Intentions do not automatically translate into actions. The separation between foro interno and foro externo allows Hobbes to argue for a state-controlled religion in a Christian commonwealth. The laws of nature represent God’s laws which oblige in the inner realm of the mind (E I.18.10), so a Christian believer should strive to fulfil them in one’s conscience. Outside the mind, in the sphere of interaction, the agent has an obligation to obey the civil law (E II.6.3). The civil state has a right to control what its citizens do to one another, not what they think or (religiously) believe as private persons. The role of God in Hobbes’s system of morals and politics has stirred debate among Hobbes expositors but hardly any of them have discussed The Elements .9 In Chap. XVIII of this work Hobbes contends that the laws of nature are proper laws only when regarded as God’s commands. The laws of nature are confirmed by Scripture but knowledge of them is not gained by reading Scripture (E I.18.1). We come to know the laws of nature through natural reason, and God, the creator of nature, is the cause of us having reason (E I.18.12). Given these claims, what are we to make of the contention that only as God’s commands the laws of nature count as proper laws? Central to Hobbes’s concept of law is his distinction between counsel and command (E II.10.1–4). A counsel is followed if the subject counselled judges it to be beneficial, whereas a command is accepted on the authority of its commander. Hobbes takes law to be the most stringent type of command: the command itself becomes a reason for action for the one who receives it (E II.10.4). The upshot is that a command necessarily has a designated author. If law is defined as command, the laws of nature would have to be understood as God’s commands (since on Hobbes’s premises
God alone qualifies as their commander). But Hobbes uses ‘law’ in a second sense: to designate a system of rules (Kavka 1983; Nagel 1959, 80).10 As a system of rules, the laws of nature need not be authored by anyone: They are conclusions arrived at by natural reason (Oakeshott 1975a, 39). This system of rules serves to establish the general patterns of good or evil consequences of human interaction in the state of nature. Uncertainty and Language The benefit of adhering to the same set of rules or laws over time is that it supplies a common frame of reference that promises to reduce the uncertainty of transactions in the state of nature. But the trouble, as Hobbes realises, is that the laws of nature are themselves uncertain: In this sense they are ‘precepts’ and not rules proper (Oakeshott 1975a, 41). One reason is that they do not cancel out the right of nature, leaving each individual free to interpret them at whim (Warrender 1957, 66, 70–73, 87). As long as multiple private parties continue to have conflicting judgements concerning the laws of nature, this uncertainty will endure (E I.15.10; Olafson 1966, 21; Sorell 2007, 133). The idea can be better stated not in terms of the presence of private judgement, but rather in terms of the absence of public authority. In the natural condition of humankind no public authority exists to determine conclusively the contents of the laws of nature, to ascertain violations, and to enforce them impartially (Oakeshott 1975a, 41). Hobbes recommends that the law of nature be incorporated within a system of civil law (and divine law). The civil law is marked by certainty because, as Chapter 2 showed, a single public authority, the sovereign state, makes, interprets, and enforces it over a given realm of jurisdiction. In the final pages of The Elements Hobbes alludes to a third model of the state of nature, as a linguistic chaos, to be overcome inside the juridical sphere of the state. In the state of nature individuals differ in their private judgements, and the same objects will have different meanings attached to them spurring chaos and endless controversy. What is needed is a common measure of things, ‘right reason’, to the fix the meanings of contested terms. Notably, people will have to agree on the predicates that describe their interactions in the foro externo, where one individual may harm or violate the rights of another individual. There need not be, and indeed cannot be, any public agreement on the terms describing the private intentions, wishes, or thoughts of each separate individual in the foro interno. Because civil law, the law of the sovereign, regulates interactions in the external
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forum, only the class of predicates that describe these interactions such as ‘meum’ and ‘tuum’, ‘right’ and ‘good’, ‘just’ and ‘unjust’, and so on must be determined as a matter of civil law. Right reason, therefore, must be the sovereign’s reason—or ‘public reason’ as we would say today (E II.10.8; Gauss 2003; Olafson 1966, 20, n. 6).
Taking stock of the discussion so far, it may be concluded that Hobbes’s analysis of the state of nature in The Elements is marked by insights as well as by tensions. Hobbes elucidated the problem of relative social power under the rubric of vainglory, and showed that unbridled individual liberty (the right of nature) produces collective insecurity. He developed two major models of the state of nature, centred on the ideas of competition and ‘diffidence‘, and a third, nascent model of linguistic chaos. In his early treatise, Hobbes was trying to match a particular passion to a particular model, the fear of death fitting the basic ‘diffidence’ model (which implicates physical violence), and vainglory supporting the ‘race’ model (which has no such implications). But the result is a disconnect between the ‘race’ (competition) model and the ‘diffidence’ model. Finally, Hobbes did not present a sufficiently fine-grained account of reason or its role in relation to the laws of nature. Perhaps an awareness of these difficulties lead him to rework his position in a subsequent book, De Cive.
Notes 1. In this chapter, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; the English translation of De Corpore [Concerning Body], Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, edited by William Molesworth (London: John Bohn, 1839), originally published in Latin in 1655; Leviathan, edited by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC ’, and De Corpore, as ‘DCor’. References to The Elements and De Corpore are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only.
3. 4. 5.
Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. In De Corpore (DCor II.9.3) Hobbes gives an account of what he calls an ‘entire cause’. It comprises an aggregate of all accidents (properties) in an agent (a body that imparts motion) and a patient (a body moved). The aggregate of accidents in the agent is an efficient cause, the aggregate of accidents in the patient is a material cause (DCor II.9.4). The co-presence of these two causes constitutes an entire cause, which instantaneously produces the effect. McNeilly (1968) associates this simple stimulus—reaction model of the passions with Leviathan but in The Elements it is even more oversimplified. Gary Herbert (1989, 95) correctly notes that Hobbes’s race analogy is incomplete. I discuss the question of covenants only in relation to the laws of nature and the rights of nature. By itself covenanting is a basic problem in Hobbes’s moral philosophy, as relevant to Hobbes’s theory of obligation (see Warrender 1957). As per convention, the citation to Kant’s works follows the format of the Prussian Academy edition, where The Groundwork (Kant 1997), abbreviated as ‘G’, is vol. IV. Hobbes uses ‘prudence’ in a non-normative sense as well, to mean a conjecture about future events based on past experience (E I.4.10) but this sense of prudence is not relevant to our discussion. This is equivalent to Kavka’s (1983) ‘rule egoism’ see note 10. Authors such as Taylor (1938) and Warrender (1957) treat the obligation to obey God as fundamental to Hobbes’s moral system. Because this ‘Taylor-Warrender thesis’ draws on the text of De Cive, it will be explored in Chapter 4. Kavka (1983, 126–127) takes Hobbes’s laws of nature to represent general rules and associates these rules with the doctrine of what he calls rule egoism (rules that best promote the agent’s interest in the long run). But we can accept the idea of general rules without committing ourselves to a specific doctrine such as rule egoism.
Bibliography Barnouw, Jeffrey. 2008. Reason as Reckoning: Hobbes’s Natural Law as Right Reason. Hobbes Studies 21 (1): 38–62. Barry, Brian. 1968. Warrender and His Critics. Philosophy 43 (164): 117–137. Herbert, Gary B. 1989. Thomas Hobbes: The Unity of Scientific and Moral Wisdom. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
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Hobbes, Thomas. 1839. De Corpore [Concerning Body]. Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. William Molesworth. London: John Bohn (Originally published in 1655). Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Gauss, Gerald F. 2003. Hobbesian-Inspired Liberalism: Public Reason Out of Individual Reason. In Contemporary Theories of Liberalism, ed. Gerald F. Gauss, 56–82. London: Sage. Kavka, Gregory S. 1983. Hobbes’s War of All Against All. Ethics 93 (2): 291–310. Knight, Frank H. 2006. Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. New York: Dover. McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St Martin’s Press. Nagel, Thomas. 1959. Hobbes’s Concept of Obligation. The Philosophical Review 68 (1): 68–83. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975a. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975b. The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 80–140. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Olafson, Frederick A. 1966. Thomas Hobbes and the Modern Theory of Natural Law. Journal of the History of Philosophy 4 (1): 15–30. Raphael, D.D. 1962. Obligations and Rights in Hobbes. Philosophy 37 (142): 345– 352. Raphael, D.D. 2004. Hobbes: Morals and Politics, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. Slomp, Gabirella. 2000. Thomas Hobbes and the Political Philosophy of Glory. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Sorell, Tom. 1990. Hobbes’s Persuasive Science. The Philosophical Quarterly 40 (160): 342–351. Sorell, Tom. 2007. Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy. In The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan, ed. Patricia Springborg, 128–156. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Taylor, A.E. 1938. The Ethical Doctrine of Hobbes. Philosophy 13 (52): 406–424. Tuck, Richard. 1996. Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy. In The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, ed. Tom Sorell, 175–207. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Warrender, Howard. 1957. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: His Theory of Obligation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Watkins, John. 1965. Hobbes’s System of Ideas, 2nd ed. London: Hutchinson.
The State of Nature in De Cive
Originally Hobbes planned to write a system of philosophy, The Elements of Philosophy, comprising three treatises, De Corpore, De Homine, and De Cive on the problems of body, man, and the citizen.1 But once the civil war in England erupted, matters of civil science gained urgency and a Latin edition of De Cive appeared first, in 1642, even though this work should have been produced last. De Corpore and De Homine remained unpublished until 1655 and 1658.2 A second, revised edition of De Cive in Latin followed in 1647 whose 1651 English translation has been used here.3 This revised edition contains an Author’s Preface to the Reader, outlining Hobbes’s argument, together with numerous annotations that Hobbes wrote in response to critics of the 1642 edition. Commentators have debated the nature and degree of continuity between De Cive, The Elements (circulated in manuscript in 1640, published in 1650), and Leviathan (1651 English edition, 1668 Latin edition). This chapter tackles the problem of a state of nature as presented in De Cive and assesses its congruence with The Elements , the next one is devoted to Leviathan.
De Cive and Hobbes’s System of Philosophy
Maurice Goldsmith has labelled De Cive a Latin version of The Elements (1969, vii–viii). His rationale is the close similarity in the chapter structure and the problematic covered (see also Tuck 1996). Part I of The Elements,
© The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_4
entitled ‘Concerning Men as Persons Natural’ and Part I of De Cive, entitled ‘On Liberty’, both discuss the passions, the right of nature, and the laws of nature—the core analytical components of a state of nature. The difference is that in the former work the laws of nature are classified as a separate element from the state of nature (EL, ‘The Order’, xiv), whereas in the latter they are part of it. Other differences are palpable as well, and the task henceforth is to determine their philosophical significance. Has Hobbes extended and refined his previous argument about the state of nature from The Elements , or is he offering a principally different argument in De Cive? One major textual difference is easy to spot: The detailed exposition on human nature, which occupies the first thirteen chapters of The Elements , is omitted from De Cive. This omission is deliberate because Hobbes had intended to cover human nature in De Homine. But the first chapter of De Cive encapsulates an overview of the passions which discloses that Hobbes has replaced the earlier competition model of the state of nature with a novel principle of natural unsociability. Two additional modifications are notable. One is that the state of war is now an unlimited ‘war of all against all’. The other is the increased normative role of the laws of nature relative to the de-emphasis on the right of nature. In the concluding pages, the relation between the right of nature and the laws of nature, as well as the normativity of the laws of nature (their obligatoriness and their basis in reason) will be analysed by considering famous interpretations of De Cive by Howard Warrender (1957), David Dachies Raphael (1962, 2004), and Thomas Nagel (1959). As in Chapter 3, the discussion follows Hobbes’s division into segments on the passions, the right of nature, and the laws of nature.
The Passions in De Cive
The Principle of Natural Unsociability In De Cive Hobbes breaks with Aristotle’s doctrine of zoon politikon where a human being by nature is a ‘political animal’. Instead, Hobbes sets out to defend a philosophical project of ‘artifice’. The idea is that escape from the state of nature requires a certain type of knowledge—knowledge of how to create and maintain a stable political society—and that it cannot be gained by nature but demands art, and therefore conscious effort and industry. With his usual modesty, Hobbes calls De Cive the first work on civil science (DCor, ‘Epistle Dedicatory’, ix). The ensuing discussion deals
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only with Hobbes’s account of the state of nature. Its starting point is the principle of natural unsociability which states that ‘we do not … by nature seek society for its own sake, but that we may receive some honour or profit from it’ (DC 1.2). Curiously, it hints at the possibility that individuals may not be sufficiently interested in each other’s affairs to get into a position of conflict. Such agents who prefer to avoid each other will be later masterfully described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1987). In De Cive, the hypothesised low level of interaction in the state of nature means low levels of violence, which seems to render superfluous the laws of nature as conflict mitigating devices. And yet in the opening lines of this treatise Hobbes declares that his task is to demonstrate the importance of the laws of nature as ‘conditions of peace’. Is Hobbes being inconsistent? Let us consider the principle of natural unsociability more closely. It holds that people meet for instrumental purposes: To conduct business (‘profit’/greed) or to brag about their accomplishments (‘glory’). If true, this principle makes entry into any kind of society, not just political society, problematic. For Hobbes, the term ‘society’ does not designate sporadic meetings but ‘bonds’ or ‘compacts’ (DC 1.1, note). A philosophical explanation would have to show how, by starting with the natural fact of limited sociability, it would be possible to arrive at stable institutions inside a civil state. Hobbes’s critics in his own time have raised the objection that people have a natural desire for society because they need each other’s help to survive. Hobbes’s ingenious response is that even though by nature human beings desire society or mutual help, they are not fit for society. Fitness for society demands education (DC 1.1, note), and particularly learning to control the socially disrupting desires by exercising rational judgment, as recommended by the laws of nature. But the principle of unsociability does not lead us anywhere in particular: It just indicates the general thrust of Hobbes’s argument. Accordingly, Hobbes includes a supporting argument which shows how the central passions that promote at least some limited sociability, greed and glory, operate in a dialectical fashion, by producing negative effects, which are eventually overcome also by passion (mutual fear). Greed and glory generate discord and mutual fear, culminating in the ‘state of war’ (the negative effect), but mutual fear directs individuals to enter the bonds of society (the positive effect). This argument appears in the lengthy second section of Chap. I of De Cive. Its premises comprise the definitions of greed and glory, whereas its conclusion (concerning mutual fear), Hobbes contends, can be established by reasoning from these definitions or by experience (DC 1.2). The
derivation has four steps. In the first step glory and vainglory are defined. Hobbes reiterates his position from The Elements that the good, understood as good to oneself, is the pleasant. But now pleasure of the mind, associated with glory, is distinguished from the ‘sensual pleasures’ of physical comfort. In The Elements , glory was a joy arising from a conception of one’s power above that of a competitor, and vainglory was glory based on imaginary power. In De Cive, glory has a new meaning; it is the pleasure of having a good opinion of oneself (DC 1.2). Vainglory appears to retain its old meaning: ‘No society can be great, or lasting, which begins from vainglory’, Hobbes writes, ‘because that glory is like honour, if all men have it, no man hath it, for they consist in comparison and precellence’ (DC 1.2). There is a difference though because while in De Cive vainglory continues to involve a bid for pre-eminence and demands social recognition or ‘honour’, honour is no longer a function of social power. A difficulty with this modified view is that vainglory must generate conflict among individuals for reasons unrelated to power competition and Hobbes remains elusive on this score. Decoupling vainglory from the quest for social power has a more dramatic effect: It collapses the ‘race’ model of the state of nature, which is absent from De Cive. Hobbes must have realised that getting ahead in the race depends on a continuous participation in social life, and that therefore such participation itself must be an important goal for human beings (Oakeshott 1975a, 40; 1975b, 88). In De Cive his point of departure is the diametrically opposed principle of natural unsociability. The second step in Hobbes’s derivation concerns the notion of ‘profit’ or ‘greed’. Hobbes asserts without much argument that people are driven by a natural desire to dominate others than by a desire to cooperate and that domination is the more profitable strategy. What can check this animus dominandi, he adds, is mutual fear. Hence, and this is his conclusion, all great societies are based on mutual fear as opposed to mutual profit (DC 1.2). Hobbes claims to have derived the proposition that mutual fear is the cement of society from the initial principle of human unsociability via intermediate premises about vainglory and profit. But actually he introduces the concept of mutual fear in the concluding stage. The meaning of this concept is also contentious. Addressing an objection voiced by contemporaries— namely, that mutual fear will drive people apart, not together—Hobbes responds that fear is a belief accompanied by a desire: It is an expectation of a future harm plus a desire to avert such harm. The cognitive aspect of fear is emphasised—‘to fear’ is ‘to distrust, suspect, take heed’ (DC 1.2,
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note)—and it is this aspect that is central to the state of war. At De Cive 1.2 Hobbes’s argument is inconsistent because neither the principle of unsociability, nor the premises of vainglory and greed, actually generate the intended conclusion of mutual fear and its implication, the state of war. Rather than a conclusion, this statement about fear looks like a premise. Mutual Fear and the State of War Indeed, at De Cive 1.3 Hobbes makes a fresh start and treats mutual fear as a premise from which to derive the state of war. In all of his works the term ‘war’ designates not an actual battle but a condition of mistrust and mutual fear that shows an intention to go into battle. The meaning of the state of war has been radicalised in De Cive: This is ‘not [war] simply, but a war of all men against all men’ (DC 1.12, emphasis added; see also Preface to the Reader, 13). Hobbes offers two slightly different accounts of it, both appearing in the ‘Preface to the Reader’ (henceforth, ‘Preface’). It is a ‘principle by experience known to all men …’, Hobbes says, ‘[that] the dispositions of men are naturally such, that except they be restrained through fear of some coercive power, every man will distrust and dread each other, and as by natural right he may, so by necessity he will be forced to make use of the strength he hath, towards the preservation of himself’ (DC, Preface, 11). This reproduces the generalised diffidence model from The Elements . A page later the state of war is explained differently. Shared knowledge that a few ‘wicked’ agents might be present amidst the multitude, combined with an inability to tell them apart from the ‘righteous’, leads to mutual mistrust (DC, Preface, 12). This position corresponds to the mitigated diffidence model from The Elements (see Chapter 3). As outlined in De Cive, the model assumes that the state of war is brought about by mutual mistrust, catalysed by the right of nature, and that a special class of agents, the wicked, are responsible for mistrust arising. The wicked are driven by a desire to hurt. This desire is one of the two factors that promote mutual fear (DC 1.12), the other being the equality between agents in the state of nature (DC 1.13). In The Elements , equality is understood as an equal vulnerability to suffer bodily harm or death (anybody can be killed by anybody else), whereas in De Cive it is an equal capacity to cause bodily harm or death (everybody can kill anybody else). This switch from a passive to an active conception of harm (causing versus suffering) is reflected in the concept of a desire to hurt, which is unique to De Cive. Hobbes introduces it to ensure that physical violence will be
an aspect of the state of war. The conduits of this peculiar type of desire are the passions of greed and vainglory. Prideful individuals who are quick to take offense at the slightest sign of disrespect or reproach (DC 1.5), or greedy individuals who covet goods that cannot be shared or enjoyed in common with others (DC 1.6), will end up hurting each other. But the supposition that vainglorious people will be prone to hurt each other physically is dubious, as we saw in Chapter 3. Hobbes offers two distinct explanations of how the desire to hurt arises. The first is found at De Cive 1.4. It appeals to vainglory (DC 1.5) as well as to incompatible objectives (DC 1.6), although the latter is barely mentioned. Hobbes distinguishes the ‘fiery spirits’ (the vainglorious) from the ‘temperate men’ (the moderate). A ‘fiery spirit’, having an exaggerated sense of one’s strength, will not shy from employing any means, including physically harmful ones, to gain precedence, whereas the ‘temperate man’ will be forced to resort to physical violence in self-defence (DC 1.4). In the ‘Preface’, as noted, Hobbes explains the desire to hurt by differentiating ‘the wicked’ (who succumb to this desire) from ‘the righteous’ (who resist it). In the state of nature, even though the wicked are few, prior to interaction it is hard to know who is who (DC, Preface, 12). As a result ‘there is a necessity of suspecting, heeding, anticipating, subjugating, self-defending, ever incident to the most honest and fairest conditioned’ (DC, Preface, 12). The righteous are caught up in the anticipatory violence spurred by the ambition of the wicked. The conclusion from the ‘Preface’ coincides with the one at De Cive 1.4, but Hobbes’s reasoning is different in each case. In the ‘Preface’ the desire to hurt is traceable to a defect of reason, whereas at De Cive 1.4 it is a result of unrestrained vainglory. The former seems to be the more interesting explanation. As Hobbes clarifies, wickedness is a property of particular actions, not of human nature, and it requires both power and malicious intent to act in breach of duty. Small children get quarrelsome when denied a trifle, but they lack the power to hurt anyone and the rational capacities that would permit the infringement of duty (DC, Preface, 12). A wicked person is like a child grown up: The capacity to hurt is there, and it is acted upon because of malice due to underdeveloped rational capacities. This argument provides a better fit with Hobbes’s reason-based account of the right of nature and the laws of nature, a topic to which we now turn.
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The Laws of Nature and the Right of Nature in De Cive The Right of Nature
The account of the right of nature in De Cive uses the same set of concepts, arranged in the same logical order, as in The Elements . This right stems from the elementary desire to procure bonum sibi and to shun what is evil, especially death, ‘the chiefest of natural evils’ (DC 1.7). This right constitutes a liberty to act, a licence to make use of ‘all the means and all the actions’ that may be needed to preserve oneself (DC 1.8). The individual is the sole judge of the appropriateness of these means (DC 1.9, 1.10, note). Hence, ‘in the state of nature, to have all, and do all, is lawful for all’ (DC 1.10). However the meaning of the term ‘right of nature’ is different in De Cive because the underlying conception of reason has changed. In The Elements Hobbes speaks of reason, in De Cive he speaks of right reason or true reason: It is therefore neither absurd, nor reprehensible, neither against the dictates of true reason, for a man to use all his endeavours to preserve and defend his body and the members thereof from death and sorrows. But that which is not contrary to right reason, that all men account to be done justly, and with right; neither by the word right is anything else signified, than that liberty which every man hath to make use of his natural faculties according to right reason. (DC 1.7, emphasis added)
This statement is hard to decipher. Hobbes remarks in a note that ‘reason’ stands for a syllogistic procedure of reasoning (DC 1.10, note). We may interpret ‘right reason’ as reasoning that one uses ‘by right’ as a subjective right whose purpose is self-preservation. But Hobbes employs the identical expression, ‘right reason’, to define the law of nature. In this case ‘right’ reason seems to refer not to subjective reason but rather to ‘correct’ reason (Kavka 1983, 122). To settle this matter we shall have to examine the nature of the connection between the right of nature and the law of nature. The Right of Nature in Relation to the Laws of Nature The third, and crucial, modification in De Cive is the increased significance, both logical and normative, of the laws of nature compared to the
schematic account of the right of nature. Aloysius Martinich (1995, 185) has branded the right of nature ‘superfluous’ on the ground that the law of nature already includes a principle of self-defence—the law instructs us to seek peace, where it may be had, and where not, to defend ourselves (DC 2.2). But this diagnosis downplays two central distinctions in Hobbes’s moral and political philosophy. The first one is between a right and a rule, between a normative relationship between particular, assignable agents and a normative relationship regulating the actions and interactions of a general, typically anonymous, class of agents (see Chapter 2). The second distinction, as a special case of the first, is one between a right and a law, ‘for law is a fetter, right is freedom, and they differ as contraries’ (DC 14.3). For Hobbes, a ‘right’ in the subjective sense designates liberty to do or to forbear; a law is an obligation to do or not to do something. An obligation blocks some paths of action that were previously open to the agent. Bernard Gert expresses the right/law contrast via the deontic operators ‘require’ and ‘allow’: A right allows one to do something, whereas a law requires it (Gert 2001, 245; see also McNeilly 1968, 177; Raphael 2004, 32, 51). If the requirement to seek peace cannot be realised in the state of nature, then the agent is permitted to resort to self-defence. And yet there is some truth in Martinich’s pronouncement that the law of nature partially overlaps with the right of nature. What explains this overlap is not that law renders right redundant, but that Hobbes grounds both in reason. In The Elements and De Cive the generic term ‘reason’ has two meanings—it may mean theoretical reason, a procedure for inferring conclusions from premises, or, alternatively, practical reason, as an actionguiding principle. In Leviathan and De Corpore Hobbes employs a third, more abstract, mathematical type of reason, ‘ratiocination’—alternatively called ‘computation’ (DCor I.I.2) or ‘reckoning’ (L V 111; XVIII, 113 )—which consists in the addition or subtraction of words, figures, or objects (and which may be used as an input by inferential reason). Because Hobbes moves from reason to right reason, the latter being a normative notion, it is important to understand how this normative type of reason participates in the right of nature, and in the law of nature. As registered previously, the right of nature presupposes the use of theoretical reason or true ratiocination. But this right would be incomplete and ineffectual if it did not yield prescriptions of practical reason informing the agent what to do. Hobbes presents the right of nature as a weak prescription that is not contrary to right reason—‘it is not against the dictates of true reason, for a man to use all his endeavours to preserve and defend his
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body and the members thereof from death and sorrows’ (DC 1.7, emphasis added). Right reason, once again, is subjective reason whose aim is self-preservation. How does right reason support the law of nature? In De Cive this law is a ‘dictate of right reason’: We ought to judge those actions only wrong, which are repugnant to right reason, that is, which contradict some certain truth collected by right reasoning from true principles. But the wrong which is done, we say it is done against some law. Therefore true reason is a certain law, which (since it is no less a part of human nature, than any other faculty, or affection of the mind) is also termed natural. Therefore the law of nature, that I may define it, is the dictate of right reason, conversant about those things which are either to be done or omitted for the constant preservation of life and members, as much as in us lies. (DC 2.1, emphasis added)
In this passage Hobbes discusses right reason, both in its theoretical and practical function, in the context of the laws of nature. His central consideration is that these laws represent other-regarding devices for regulating individual conduct. Thus, theoretical reason consists in ‘the act of right reasoning, that is, the peculiar and true ratiocination of every man concerning those actions of his which may either redound to the damage or benefit of his neighbours’ (DC 2.1, note, emphasis added). Practical reason, when used rightly, determines the duties that the agents ‘are necessarily to perform towards others in order to their own conservation’ (DC 2.1, note). In short, on the basis of information provided by theoretical reason, practical reason generates prescriptions necessary to regulate action, and concretely, the other-regarding duties that the rational individual ought to observe in order to survive in the state of nature. It may be recalled that in The Elements the laws of nature were prescriptions of reason where the aims of reason were instrumental, to pick the means (policies of modesty, gratitude, mutual accommodation) that best secure self-preservation in the state of nature. In De Cive, reason determines the means of self-preservation as well the end of all rational agents in the state of nature—namely, common peace and defence (DC 3.29). As Gert points out, if reason is capable of setting ends, it cannot be the merely instrumental reason since instrumental reason does not impose limits on ends but only makes a given set of ends internally consistent (Gert 2001, 245). Reason so understood must
impose some limits on the ends that are proper to pursue—namely, the set of other-regarding duties in the state of nature. It follows that in De Cive the right of nature and the law of nature differ in at least two ways. The first was previously identified by Gert: The law of nature constitutes a principle of action required by reason. In contradistinction, the right of nature is a liberty to act or forbear from acting that is merely consistent with reason (Hobbes’s weaker, consistency formulation reads, ‘It is not against reason to …’). The second difference pertains to the nature of ends pursued: The end of the right of nature is self-preservation; the end of the fundamental law of nature is ‘common peace and defence’ (DC 3.29). Unlike the right of nature which protects the self-interest of the solitary individual, the law of nature aims at the peace and defence of ‘men in multitudes’. As Howard Warrender observes, ‘If the fundamental principle which the individual is obliged to follow is one which enjoins peace rather than self-preservation as such, his duties are given a more social and less self-regarding appearance’ (1957, 218). To complete the assessment of Hobbes’s state of nature in De Cive, we have to consider his notion of obligation that may bind agents in that natural state, independent from the juridical authority of the civil state.
Obligations in the State of Nature: Laws of Nature or Covenant?
So far it has been established that the laws of nature as laid down in De Cive impose certain other-regarding obligations on all rational agents in the state of nature. This entails the following questions: (1) In what sense do Hobbes’s laws of nature count as laws ? (2) What makes the laws of nature obligatory? (3) What kind of obligations are there in the state of nature? The first is about the status of law, the second is about the ground of obligation, and the third pertains to the character of obligation. These questions formed the core of Warrender’s much discussed book, Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy: His Theory of Obligation (1957) and it is helpful to analyse them in the context of the discourse it has stimulated (Barry 1968; Deigh 2012; Nagel 1959; Plamenatz 1957; Taylor 1938; Warrender 1957; Watkins 1965). The book suggests that Hobbes should be read as a theorist of obligation, and not as a theorist of rights. While Warrender’s reading has attracted few followers (though see Olafson 1966; Plamenatz 1957), we can still learn from it because it illuminates some basic philosophical problems about Hobbes’s conception of obligation. The remainder of this
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discussion is indebted to the critical interventions by Nagel and Rapahel who have shown why Warrender is not entirely successful in elucidating the logical structure of Hobbesian obligation. The Status of Law The least controversial of the three questions raised above is the question whether Hobbes’s laws of nature qualify as laws in the strict sense. At De Cive 3.33 Hobbes contends that the laws of nature can be properly called laws only if they are seen as God’s commands, as delivered in Holy Scripture. Warrender interprets this statement in terms of Hobbes’s distinction between counsel and command (law being a type of command, DC 14.1). Thus, the laws of nature, construed as prudential maxims, advise the individual to seek self-preservation, whereas construed as God’s commands, they oblige the individual and therefore are laws proper (Warrender 1957, 99, 213). This distinction is a premise of Warrender’s argument that the Hobbesian subjects have a political obligation to obey the sovereign (established via covenant) but that it derives from a more fundamental moral obligation to obey the laws of nature (specifically, the law of nature that enjoins the keeping of covenants).4 The ground of this moral obligation is God’s will. Following Alfred Taylor, Warrender attributes a divine command theory of morality to Hobbes. In the Hobbes literature this theistic interpretation has been dubbed the ‘Taylor-Warrender thesis’ (Barry 1968; Deigh 2012, 34; Nagel 1959; Plamenatz 1957; Raphael 1962; Taylor 1938; Warrender 1957; Watkins 1965). It is notable that Warrender takes God’s will to be the ground of Hobbesian obligation, but this will is actually a source and not a ground. A source shows whence an obligation stems; a ground discloses the reasons for accepting a given obligation as binding. Warrender and Taylor agree on the source of obligation in Hobbes (divine will) but dispute its character and its ground. With respect to the character of obligation, Taylor prioritises covenants and promises, and Warrender, the laws of nature. With respect to ground, Taylor discerns in Hobbes’s moral philosophy, when disconnected from Hobbes’s egoistic psychology, a ‘strict deontology’ reminiscent of Kant’s (Taylor 1938, 408). Taylor also supposes that people in the state of nature fulfil their obligations because they have promised to do so (Taylor 1938, 409). Warrender favours a prudential reading that will be our focus below. He holds that individuals are obliged
to keep these laws out of fear from divine sanctions or, when they are atheists, for fear for their lives. Deontology and prudence constitute opposing grounds of why individuals would act by accepting normative constraints in the state of nature. The Ground of Hobbesian Obligation Let us zoom into the ground of Hobbesian obligation, as articulated by Warrender. Initially, he holds that the laws of nature oblige because they are God’s commands or laws (1957, 98–99). But moving from the proposition that a certain precept is a law, to the conclusion that it is obligatory is unwarranted (Nagel 1959, 76; Raphael 1962, 346). Nagel and Raphael have pointed out that the laws of nature can be regarded as obligatory in themselves, and not necessarily because someone commands them (Nagel 1959, 80; Raphael 1962, 346). In any event, the question of sources is logically independent from the question of grounds or reasons for accepting an obligation. Warrender subsequently revises his original claim, when he states that the reason for obeying the laws of nature is not God’s will per se but His ‘irresistible power’ (1957, 280). Divine obligation, on this reading, presupposes an asymmetric power relation between an overwhelmingly powerful agent and a weaker agent ‘who despairing of his power to resist, cannot but yield to the stronger’ (DC 15.7). Obligation of this kind is what Hobbes calls ‘natural obligation’. Because it is motivated by fear, as Raphael explains, it determines action causally rather than normatively (2004, 34, 69). Warrender however equates natural obligation to the normative category of prudential obligation (1957, 8–9). Two types of prudence are at play. Believers who seek salvation observe God’s commands for fear of divine sanctions (theistic prudence) and atheists obey the laws of nature for prudential reasons of self-preservation (atheistic prudence). In short, Warrender’s position is that the fundament of Hobbes’s moral philosophy is prudential obligation. This position exposes Warrender’s definition of morality as inconsistent. Warrender uses the label ‘moral obligation’ to describe what is actually a prudential obligation, but, as Nagel objects, ‘nothing could be called a moral obligation which in principle never conflicted with self-interest [prudence]’ (Nagel 1959, 72). In light of the egoistic psychology that permeates the pages of De Cive, it is more plausible to categorise the obligation to obey the laws of nature as (strictly) prudential and not as (strictly) moral (Nagel 1959, 69, 81; see also Raphael 2004, 32, 52, 56; Watkins 1965,
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83ff.). This criticism reveals another defect in Warrender’s claim that laws are proper laws only qua God’s commands. As Nagel observes, it is possible to imagine a legal system whose apex is a person, a supreme commander, but it is doubtful whether a system of this sort deserves to be called a moral system (1959, 80). Intuitively, we tend to think of morality as a system of rules and not as the contingent declarations of will by a single person. The Character of Hobbesian Obligation: Natural Versus Artificial Nagel’s critique leaves undisturbed Warrender’s main premise that the obligation to obey the laws of nature is central to Hobbes’s moral system. Other critics have fastened onto the fact that Hobbes endorses a second kind of obligation whose source is not law but covenant. Raphael discerns two basic genera of Hobbesian obligation that are logically independent from each other—artificial obligation as Raphael terms it (whose species is covenantal obligation), and natural obligation (whose species is the obligation to obey natural law) (Raphael 1962, 347; 2004, 36). Natural obligation compels the subject to obey, by the force of hope or fear (Raphael 2004, 69). Artificial obligation presupposes the medium of language; the agent undertakes this kind of obligation by uttering certain words (such as ‘I promise to do x’) in front of another in the appropriate circumstances (Raphael 2004, 33). Thus, the obligation to obey the laws of nature, including the law of nature prescribing the keeping of covenants, is a natural obligation, whose ultimate ground is prudence (Raphael 2004, 56). Conversely, the artificial obligation of covenant is morally grounded since a promise (covenant) ought to be kept simply because one has made it, and not because it is prudent or expedient to do so (Raphael 1962, 348; 2004, 33). Brain Barry has radicalised Raphael’s critique by suggesting that the only proper obligation in Hobbes’s moral system is based on covenant (Barry 1968, 125, 127–128). It follows that the obligation to obey the law of nature is not an obligation in the proper sense but a weaker prescription, a counsel of prudence (Barry 1968, 127, 129; see also Raphael 2004, 32, 52). A central hypothesis advanced in this book is that Hobbes presents different theories of morality, law, and politics in Leviathan than in his earlier works (Deigh 2012; McNeilly 1968). For the most part Warrender’s critics have failed to notice that he draws his evidence indiscriminately, from Hobbes’s entire corpus, and that his interpretation of God’s power and the obligatoriness of the laws of nature is extracted not from Leviathan, as
they seem to suppose, but rather from De Cive. To charitably assess Warrender’s reading we have to attend to Hobbes’s views of obligation, law, and covenant in De Cive. Let us begin with Hobbes’s concept of covenant. In De Cive Hobbes says that all right stems either from nature or from contract (mutual covenant) (DC 15.5). He immediately adds that human beings are obliged to obey an omnipotent God out of weakness. This extends to God’s natural kingdom, a realm of rule over all rational beings whose principles, laws of nature, are evident to natural reason. In this realm there is no place for a covenant with God (DC 15.7). Hobbes, in short, deemphasises covenant, and makes the laws of nature, qua God’s commands, into vehicles of natural obligation. Turning to Hobbes’s concept of obligation, it transpires that Hobbes treats unequal power as a sufficient condition for imposing obligation. This is because God has a right to be obeyed in virtue of His irresistible power, a stipulation that reduces the notion of being obligated to that of being obliged. As to Hobbes’s concept of law, in De Cive it is defined as ‘the command of that person (whether man or court) whose precept contains in it the reason of obedience’ (DC 14.1). Laws are the ‘precepts’ of God in relation to men, of magistrates with respect to their subjects, and ‘universally of all the powerful in respect of them who cannot resist’ (DC 14.1). Putting all these pieces together we arrive at Warrender’s conclusion—namely, that the law of nature, enjoining the keeping of covenants, obliges because it is God’s command, and that this law obliges citizens to observe the political covenant towards the civil sovereign. At least within the system of De Cive Warrender’s interpretation of Hobbes’s moral theory holds: Whatever tensions were detected by critics indicate problems in Hobbes’s own position and indeed in any naturalist position which attempts to reduce the normative concept of obligation (being obligated) to the non-normative concept of being obliged. In Leviathan, Hobbes adopts principally distinct notions of obligation and law (Deigh 2012, 202–203). He differentiates being obligated from being obliged, emphasising the former. The source of obligation is not external power, as was the case in De Cive, but the agent’s own will (L XXI 268 ; Oakeshott 1975a, 67). Obligation is created by covenant, not imposed on the agent by a general law or rule, irrespective of his or her will. This change is reflected in Hobbes’s definition of ‘law’. In Leviathan it is defined as a command ‘only of him, whose Command is addressed to one formerly obliged to obey him’ (L XXVI, 312 ). Law obligates not as an objective principle but in virtue of a prior covenant of obedience (Barry
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1968, 121). The mature Hobbes makes artificial obligation, exemplified by covenant, the basic kind of obligation in his moral system.
In conclusion, we may note that compared to the sleek structure of The Elements , the text of De Cive is baroque and Hobbes‘s derivation of the state of war from the passions and the right of nature conceptually fuzzy and overdetermined. It is fuzzy because the role of the right of nature remains muted. It is overdetermined because a number of parallel considerations— the principle of unsociability, the desire to hurt, mutual fear, and Hobbes’s favourite passion, vainglory—each suffices to explain why trouble arises in the state of nature. Hobbes, it seems, was unable to specify their order of explanatory priority. And while he was trying to purge vainglory from the competitive element of social power, considerations of power enter through the back door, with Hobbes’s invocation of God’s omnipotence which Warrender rightly singled out as a peculiar feature of De Cive. In this middle work, Hobbes remains a theorist of power: but this will change in Leviathan. The major accomplishment of De Cive is that it provides a sketch of a moral system for the state of nature. Within this sketch, the contours of the laws of nature were much more clearly drawn than those of covenant or the right of nature. The general tenor of Hobbes’s analysis of the laws of nature, as we have seen, is prudential, grounded in self-preservation, divine sanctions, or social well-being. And while covenant and the right of nature represent the moral world from the standpoint of the subject, in De Cive the emphasis is on the objective standpoint represented by law. As it will be shown in the next chapter, in Leviathan Hobbes will reclaim this subjective standpoint of the moral world.
Notes 1. In this chapter, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; the English translation of De Corpore [Concerning Body], Volume I in The English Works of
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, edited by William Molesworth (London: John Bohn, 1839), originally published in Latin in 1655; Leviathan, edited by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC ’, and De Corpore, as ‘DCor’. References to The Elements and De Corpore are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. 2. I do not use Hobbes’s late work De Homine. A standard edition, entitled Man and Citizen, translated by Charles T. Wood, T.S.K. Scott-Craig, and Bernard Gert, and edited by Bernard Gert is Hobbes (1972). It offers an English translation of both De Homine and De Cive. 3. On the controversy of the 1651 English translation of De Cive, see Richard Tuck, ‘The Translation [of De Cive]’ in De Cive (1997, xxxiv–xxxvii), and Noel Malcolm (1998). Tuck hypothesises that ‘C.C.’, whom Malcolm identifies as Charles Cotton, was the translator of the 1651 text of De Cive. However, Tuck’s new edition of De Cive, entitled On the Citizen, translated by M. Silverthorne (Hobbes 1998) has its own infelicities. A key one is that Tuck has replaced the crucial Hobbesian concept of ‘multitude’, which describes dissociated agents in the state of nature, with the noun ‘crowd’ (Hobbes 1998, ‘Key words’, xl). In his more recent work Tuck uses ‘multitude’ (2015, 99n). My analysis relies on the 1651 English translation edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (Hobbes 1949) where the notion of ‘multitude’ is retained. 4. Warrender (1957) interprets Hobbes’s moral philosophy in the following way. A single moral obligation(Warrender calls it ‘natural obligation’, ibid., 9) applies to the state of nature and civil society, and this kind of obligation is independent from the ‘fiat of the civil sovereign’ (ibid., 7). There is a moral obligation to keep covenants prior to the institution of the state (ibid., 41, 102). A covenant is binding because there is a law of nature which prescribes the keeping of covenants (ibid., 108, 248).
Bibliography Barry, Brian. 1968. Warrender and His Critics. Philosophy 43 (164): 117–137. Deigh, John. 2012. Hobbes’s Philosophy in De Cive and Leviathan. Hobbes Studies 25 (2): 199–208. Gert, Bernard. 2001. Hobbes on Reason. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (3–4): 234–257.
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Goldsmith, Maurice M. 1969. Introduction to the Second Edition. In The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies, v–xxi. London: Frank Cass. Hobbes, Thomas. 1839. De Corpore [Concerning Body]. Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. William Molesworth. London: John Bohn (Originally published in 1655). Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Hobbes, Thomas. 1972. Man and Citizen, trans. Charles T. Wood, T.S.K. ScottCraig, and Bernard Gert and ed. Bernard Gert. New York: Humanities Press. Hobbes, Thomas. 1998. On the Citizen, trans. M. Silverthorne and ed. R. Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1642/1647). Kavka, Gregory S. 1983. Hobbes’s War of All Against All. Ethics 93 (2): 291–310. Malcolm, Noel. 1998. Charles Cotton, Translator of Hobbes’s ‘De Cive’. Huntington Library Quarterly 1 (2): 259–287. Martinich, A.P. 1995. A Hobbes Dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell. McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Nagel, Thomas. 1959. Hobbes’s Concept of Obligation. The Philosophical Review 68 (1): 68–83. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975a. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975b. The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes. In Hobbes on Civil Association, ed. Michael Oakeshott, 80–140. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Olafson, Frederick A. 1966. Thomas Hobbes and the Modern Theory of Natural Law. Journal of the History of Philosophy 4 (1): 15–30. Plamenatz, John. 1957. Mr Warrender’s Hobbes. Political Studies 5 (3): 295–308. Raphael, D.D. 1962. Obligations and Rights in Hobbes. Philosophy 37 (142): 345–352. Raphael, D.D. 2004. Hobbes: Morals and Politics, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1987. On the Social Contract. Indianapolis: Hackett (Originally published in 1762). Taylor, A.E. 1938. The Ethical Doctrine of Hobbes. Philosophy 13 (52): 406–424. Tuck, Richard. 1996. Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy. In The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, ed. Tom Sorell, 175–207. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tuck, Richard. 2015. The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Warrender, Howard. 1957. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: His Theory of Obligation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Warrender, Howard. 1962. Obligations and Rights in Hobbes. Philosophy 37 (142): 352–357. Watkins, John. 1965. Hobbes’s System of Ideas, 2nd ed. London: Hutchinson.
The State of Nature in Leviathan
This chapter concludes the analysis of Hobbes’s argument for a state of nature in his major moral and political works by examining its final presentation in Leviathan.1 It pursues two tasks. First, it identifies and evaluates the revisions introduced since The Elements and De Cive. Notable is Hobbes’s altered understanding of important background conceptions including the passions as well as language and reason. Directly relevant to the notion of a state of nature are changes concerning the logical connection between human nature (passions) and the right of nature, and the overall model of the state of nature. Leviathan, as we shall see, is organised around a model of uncertainty construed in a basic, epistemological sense which no longer refers to physical security or well-being. Second, the chapter contrasts a passions account of the state of war with a structuralist account of the state of nature. The first is a reconstruction of Leo Strauss’s and Michael Oakeshott’s readings of Hobbes, the second articulates a fresh conception of Hobbes’s state of nature, as a structure that constrains the relations between free and equal beings. It is argued that Hobbes couples such an external, structuralist view of human relations with an internalist view of language, an internalism which ground his views of the laws of nature and the civil law.
© The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_5
Hobbes’s Changing Conceptions of the Passions, Reason, and Language The Passions
In Leviathan Hobbes’s theory of human nature reflects significant changes from its earlier presentation in The Elements . Human nature is still assumed to have two basic aspects, passion and reason, but their meaning has changed. We begin with Hobbes’s conative theory of mind which explains the generation of the passions. In The Elements, when an inward motion caused by an external stimulus reached the brain, it produced an image, and being transmitted further to the heart, it either hindered or eased its vital motion (E I.7.1). This quickening (slackening) of vital motion constituted pleasure (displeasure). Pleasure in turn caused ‘endeavour’, the imperceptible beginning of animal motion (E I.7.2). But Hobbes left it undetermined whether endeavour is directed towards a currently perceived object, or towards a thought of a possible action (McNeilly 1968, 117). In Leviathan the second option receives attention because Hobbes’s point of departure is not any external cause but the imagination or ‘decaying sense’ internal to the mind. Whereas ‘vital motion’ (involuntary motion) is one which ‘needs no help of Imagination’ (L VI, 118 ), any object of ‘animal motion’ (voluntary motion) must be ‘first fancied in our minds’ (L VI, 118 ). Action, then, can be prompted by an image projected in the absence of an actually perceived object. Hobbes explicates the concept of desire in terms of endeavour. Endeavour, or the small internal beginnings of voluntary motion, when directed towards an external object, actual or imagined, constitute desire (or ‘appetite’) and when directed away from it, aversion (L VI, 119 ). What about pleasure? In Leviathan it is mental experience as opposed to a physiological state associated with heart quickening. But the role of pleasure is auxiliary because Hobbes has abandoned his former view that human beings desire the pleasant or seek to avoid what is painful (E I.7.2). Instead, pleasure (‘delight’) is the appearance or sense of desire (L VI, 121–122 ). As McNeilly remarks, this means that ‘a desire must already exist before it is possible to talk about pleasure’ (1968, 115). Desire and aversion, or passion as a generic notion, has become the central category in Hobbes’s theory of conation, will, and action. Whenever Hobbes discusses the passions, he uses two levels of description: a causal language (of causes, effects, motions), and a phenomenalist
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language (of thoughts, images, desires). From a causal point a view, a passion is an internal motion inside a sentient body. It can represent endeavour, directed outwards from the perceiving body and thus towards the external cause that brought it about; or, it can be directed towards the image of a possible action. In Leviathan such external causes are usually motions of physical bodies, or, and here Hobbes introduces a third level of description, social causes such as education and custom (L VIII, 138–139 ). Even if identical causes affected all human beings, the difference in bodily constitution (L VI, 120 ) or received ideas would produce different passions in different individuals (L VIII, 138–139 ). Thus particular individuals or even the same individual on various occasions will be moved by different passions. Chapter VI of Leviathan contains definitions of a number of passions such as joy, grief, hope, fear, courage, benevolence, curiosity, glory, and vainglory. Hobbes’s intent is limited to showing how certain passions can mutate, for instance, how glory, ‘exultation of the mind’ based on experience of one’s actions can turn into vainglory, which is based on flattery or self-deception (L VI, 125 ). Mutations of this sort explain the human tendency of getting carried away by passion. Language The second basic aspect of human nature is reason. In Leviathan it is conceptually connected to language, so the latter concept has to be considered first. Hobbes devotes Chapter IV to ‘speech’, by which he means language as a system of meaningful signs that serves both the end of reference and that of communication. It is instructive to compare how Hobbes’s view of signs changes between The Elements and Leviathan. In the earlier work his doctrine of signs has a naturalist basis. Natural signs are chains of physically observable antecedents and consequents such as cloud followed by rain (E I.4.9). The meaning (‘signification’) of a natural sign is the relation of ‘pointing to’ established between consecutive natural events, so it is warranted to say that cloud means rain if, as a matter of observational regularity, clouds are followed by rain. But since on any particular occasion, a cloud may not be followed by rain, this type of meaning is uncertain (E I.4.10). Hobbes also speaks of a second category of signification devices, marks: A MARK therefore is a sensible object which a man erecteth voluntarily to himself, to the end to remember thereby somewhat past, when the same is
objected to his sense again. As men that have passed by a rock at sea, set up some mark, whereby to remember their former danger, and avoid it. (E I.5.1)
Marks are artificial or human made, but they have naturalist roots since the meaning of each mark must be mediated by reference to a physical object. A mark points to the concept of a sinking ship, but it also refers to a physical object, the ship itself. Finally, there is the category of words or names, which represent artificial signs although Hobbes does not use this term in The Elements . A word has meaning which is a conception in the mind, and which need not be anchored to an external referent (E I.6.3–4). Hobbes thinks that names allow us to connect two or more words into a proposition (affirmative or negative statement), so that we can define the meaning of things which we do not yet know in terms of things whose meaning we know. He adheres to the two-name theory of propositions, where the subject and predicate of a proposition refer to the same thing (Geach 1972, 52–53). For example, ‘man’ can be defined by conjoining the names ‘animal’ and ‘rational’ (E I.1.4). A further advantage of words or names is that a proposition can be a logical relation between general terms (E I.5.6–7), which would pick out a referent as an element within a general class. The term ‘man’ refers to any man and not just to a particular man. The difference between natural and artificial signs, then, is that the relation between antecedent and consequent (cloud means rain) that characterises natural signs is empirical, contingent, and particularised, whereas that between a term and its definition (‘Man’ means ‘rational animal’) that characterises artificial signs is logical, necessary and generalised. In Leviathan, there is no natural signification, all signification is linguistic and depends on names. Having eliminated the category of natural signs, Hobbes now treats all signs and marks as linguistic inventions or names. Marks serve as ‘notes of Remembrance’ (L IV, 101 ). And whereas each mark is a name fabricated by a solitary thinker in order to remember a concept, a sign is a mark that performs a communicative function: Its meaning can be understood by more than one thinkers (L V, 111 ). Notice that marks are still physically manifest—they are sounds or notes on paper (L IV, 101 )—but their meaning does not necessarily presuppose any reference to an external object (such as a ship). The locus of meaning, an abstract relation of ‘pointing to’, is in the mind. A word pointing to another word within a proposition would mark a thought (a train of conceptions,
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L II, 93 ; V, 101 ) privately, if it remains intelligible to a single individual. But it would signify such a thought publicly, if upon being uttered in front of another person, its meaning can be understood by that person. For understanding is ‘Imagination that is raysed in man (or any other creature indued with the faculty of imagining) by words, or other voluntary signes’ (L II, 93 ). Later on in Leviathan public language will become the medium for constructing the political and juridical edifice of the state. Reason In Chap. V of Leviathan reason is defined as reckoning with words. It is Reckoning (that is, Adding and Subtracting) of the Consequences of general names agreed upon, for the marking and signifying of our thoughts; I say marking them, when we reckon by our selves; and signifying, when we demonstrate, or approve our reckoning to other men. (L V, 111 , original emphasis)
Hobbes makes reasoning dependent on language in order to support his view of ‘science’ (L V, 115 ; VII, 131 ; see also DCor I.1.2). Science is a body of syllogisms whose aim is to derive causes from effects or vice versa. In Leviathan it represents conditional knowledge and its syllogisms are chains of conditional propositions with the form ‘If X would be the case, then Y would follow’ (L VII, 131 ; IX, 147 ). To be cumulative, conclusive, and generalisable beyond immediate experience the propositions of science must have meaning that is both determinate (fixed with respect to the referent) and general. Propositions expressed in language satisfy the twin conditions of determinateness and generality. It is not accidental that reason is linguistic computation in De Corpore (DCor I.1.2) and Leviathan (L V, 111 ), Hobbes’s two central works on science. De Corpore expounds the general principles of science including geometry, metaphysics, and ‘natural science’ (physics), and Leviathan is a science of morality, law, and politics. But in the latter work we find additional conceptions of reason unrelated to computation because, beside scientific method, Hobbes wants to explain concrete problems such as the nature of human interaction in the absence of a common authority, the tension between reason and passion, as that between the ends of individuals and groups.
We encountered Hobbes’s principal categories of reason when discussing De Cive and The Elements in Chapters 3 and 4. Reason operates in two domains: theoretical (where it governs belief), and practical (where it governs action). Within the practical domain, it is instrumental reason when it is used to select the best means to a given end, or non-instrumental reason when it sets ends as valuable in themselves. Within the theoretical domain, reason can be ‘computation’. Or it can be an inferential capacity for drawing conclusions from premises. Turning to Hobbes’s substantive conceptions of reason, it may be noted that ‘natural reason’ is prominent in the early works but inconspicuous in Leviathan. Interpreters disagree over its meaning. Some equate natural reason with instrumental reason whose end is self-preservation (Strauss 1963, 15) or with non-instrumental reason whose end is peace (Gert 2001, 248); others, with private reason to be distinguished from the public reason of the sovereign (Oakeshott 1975a, 29, n. 41). Natural reason may even designate an inborn inferential capacity. Finally, Hobbes’s conception of ‘right reason’ implies criteria, theoretical or practical, for its correct application. It may be recalled from earlier chapters that this conception was associated with the right of nature and the laws of nature in The Elements and De Cive, although in De Cive it was occasionally used as a synonym for public reason. In Leviathan right reason designates exclusively public reason (L V, 111 ). In brief, Hobbes is a pluralist with respect to the concept of reason, and its meaning can only be ascertained in the context of a particular argument. This pluralist view has not remained unchallenged. Bernard Gert (2001) believes that throughout his corpus Hobbes adheres to a single, unchanging doctrine of reason, a position labelled the ‘uniformity approach’ by critics (Deigh 2012). To be able to escape the state of nature, Gert contends, Hobbesian individuals must first deduce the laws of nature and then adopt them as action-guiding principles (Gert 2001, 248). This enterprise requires using three types of Hobbesian reason: Natural reason, to determine the ends of action (peace); instrumental reason, to discover the means towards that end (mutual forbearance); and reason as computation (‘verbal reason’ in Gert’s terms 2001, 247), to identify general rules (laws of nature) that connect means to ends in a non-contingent manner. The difficulty with Gert’s threefold classification of reason is that it seems to constitute an independent hypothesis about reason that has little to do with Hobbes’s own position. In any case, it would be improper to categorise Hobbes as a rationalist. None of his diverse conceptions of reason, alone or in combination, can
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exhaust his ambitious philosophical project, whose aim is to explain the connection between human nature and the state of nature, as well as the need to escape this natural condition by creating juridical and political institutions. The rest of this chapter tackles these puzzles.
The Passions Account in Leviathan
As mentioned, Hobbes regards the passions from two alternative perspectives: Either as properties of human nature, or as factors that shape human relations in the state of nature. In Leviathan, the first perspective is laid out in Chap. VI and further developed in Chaps. VIII, X, and XI, whereas the second, which is our present focus, in Chaps. XIII through XV with supporting discussion in Chap. XXI. It will be shown that in his late treatise Hobbes distinguishes the general concept of a state of nature, as an unregulated domain of free interaction, from a special case, the state of war, as a condition of uncertainty and mutual hostility. My thesis is that Leviathan contains a passions account of the state of war, but a structuralist account of the state of nature (where the passions play only a limiting role). The passions account articulated here draws on interpretations by Strauss (1963) and Oakeshott (1975a, b) that remain faithful to the spirit of Hobbes’s philosophy and that have established themselves as philosophical contributions in their own right. The proposed structuralist account has no pedigree in the Hobbes literature. While Francis S. McNeilly (1968, 148, 168) and Crawford Macpherson (1962, 46, 58–59, 68–69) have identified power as a basic structural relation in the state of nature, the notion of structure put forward here is more comprehensive. Structure refers to a spatially closed interaction domain that constrains the conduct of units that are themselves spatially bounded. Commencing with the passions account, we may note that in Chap. XIII of Leviathan the state of war is fuelled by a triad of passions: competition, diffidence, and glory (L XIII, 185 [61–62]). The term ‘competition’ refers to covetousness or greed, ‘diffidence’ refers to mistrust, and ‘glory’, to ‘joy arising from imagination of a man’s own power and ability’ (L VI, 124–125 [26–27]). In The Elements glory is a comparative notion since its ingredient, power, is measured against the power ‘of him that contendeth with us’ (E I.9.1). In Leviathan Hobbes speaks of ‘one’s own power’ which renders glory a non-comparative notion. Greed can also be interpreted in non-comparative terms, as sheer acquisitiveness—think of the miser who piles up money for its own sake without regard for social recognition. The
second passion on Hobbes’s list, mistrust, is comparative and relational. It implies that A does not trust another individual, B, and not simply that A does not believe the truthfulness of a proposition (L VII, 132 ). Hobbes develops no subsequent argument about greed as an antisocial passion; his explanation of the state of war has been associated either with vainglory, or with mistrust. Vainglory In The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis (1963), Strauss singles out vainglory as the passion that is most conducive to the state of war. Recall that glory, a justified assessment of one’s power, is productive as it encourages the individual to act in the world, whereas vainglory or ‘pride’, as an exaggerated belief in one’s power, entangles the individual in idle contemplation. Vainglorious people, as Hobbes claims in The Elements , will compete in a race where there is ‘no other garland but being foremost’ (E I.9.21). In De Cive vainglory remains an important passion (alongside fear and greed) that promotes anticipatory violence between the moderate and the vainglorious (DC 1.4; DC, Preface, 12). In Leviathan we no longer find the race idiom, nor the argument for anticipatory violence between those who are stung by pride and those who are not. Strauss concedes that Hobbes’s race analogy is borrowed from The Elements and that in Leviathan the role of vainglory is muted but takes this to be a sign that Hobbes was unable to make up his mind (Strauss 1963, 12). For Strauss, Hobbes’s argument is compelling only if pride is treated as if it were the fundamental defect of human nature (Strauss 1963, 11–13, 18, 111). Strauss proceeds to show that in the absence of an overarching authority vainglory would lead to physical violence. In the beginning, each prideful individual is engrossed in one’s imaginary world. Awakening from it occurs through the experience of pain, which discloses the resistance of the real, physical world (Strauss 1963, 19). This pain must be inflicted by another individual, otherwise no interpersonal comparison and no violence would be involved. Thus a person who feels slighted by another may seek to reclaim one’s reputation by demanding recognition from the offending party. But once their interaction gets physically violent, the quest for recognition turns into an existential hatred, and the opponent becomes an enemy who must be eliminated (Strauss 1963, 20–21). Strauss’s protagonists, engaged in a physical battle, are brought back to reason by the realisation of the impending danger of violent death. Strauss is anxious
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to distinguish violent death from natural death or painful death. Death is violent in the sense that it is suffered at the hands of another human being: It is shameful death (Strauss 1963, 17–18; Oakeshott 1975b, 88, 95, 100; 2001, 834). But Strauss’s interpretation is strained since the fusion between death, shame, and violence occurs in De Cive, not in Leviathan where Hobbes speaks in more abstract terms, of ‘fear of death’. For Strauss the fear of violent death is the seed of rational reflection. Fear teaches individuals to lay down their arms and to enter into agreements, by accepting reciprocal limits on conduct (Strauss 1963, 22). In this way, self-preservation is elevated into a rational principle for each individual and into a moral principle for all individuals: Rationality is the ground of morality. As a final step, Strauss connects morality to politics. He views what Hobbes’s calls ‘sovereignty by acquisition’ (Chap. XX of Leviathan) and ‘sovereignty by institution’ (Chap. XVIII) as two methods for making political agreements in the state of nature motivated by fear. In the first case one is afraid of being killed by a superior, in the second, the opponents, who are equal in power, fear not each other but violent death itself (Strauss 1963, 22, 105). Hobbes’s entire doctrine of human nature, Strauss concludes, is an antithesis between vainglory and the fear of violent death (1963, 18, 22–23). On Strauss’s interpretation, the awakening of reason is stimulated by fear. Oakeshott has pointed out that fear is the cradle of prudence, not reason (1975a, 39). ‘Prudence’, as a non-normative term, designates an ability to predict events by extrapolating from one’s past knowledge of similar events (L III, 97–98 [10–11]; V, 117 ; XIII, 183 [60–61]). Unlike reason, prudence is a type of inductive knowledge that depends on empirical observation. Animals too are capable of it if they manage to guess the course of the future and use it to their advantage. This reveals a categorical gap between prudence and reason. Reason as computation, the core sense it has in Leviathan (and De Corpore), is not linked to experience. It is a quasi-mathematical operation which computes the relations between linguistic terms or similar abstract objects such as geometric figures or properties. Finally, Strauss identified fear as a motive for covenanting in Hobbes’s state of nature. Indeed, Hobbes accepts that prior fear can be a valid motive for entering into a covenant (L XIV, 198 ), and that a covenant entered into can be invalidated by subsequent fear, upon a just suspicion that the other party may not keep its part of the deal (L XIV, 196–197 ). But
Strauss downplays the issue of mistrust and mutual suspicion, an omission corrected in Oakeshott’s analysis. Trust and Mistrust In critically appropriating Strauss’s theses on Hobbes, Oakeshott partially endorses them. No less than Strauss, he is captivated by Hobbes’s simile of life as a race. Oakeshott defines the Hobbesian state of nature as a realm of competition among prideful individuals (1975a, 36–38, 40; 1975b, esp. 87–100). As noted in Chapter 3, this entails a highly socialised view of the state of nature. For, each Hobbesian agent must ensure that the rest are alive and well lest no one is left to witness one’s success in the race for precedence. Similarly, Oakeshott follows Strauss in recognising that the turning point, the prudential realisation that either we can engage in war and anticipatory violence and perish or make peace via agreements, is product of fear of death. But Oakeshott goes beyond Strauss in distinguishing, albeit tentatively, between the state of war and the state of nature, and thus between two senses of fear appropriate to each domain: fear of death, and fear of the unknown. So, even if fear of death would induce us to reach agreements in the state of nature, the outcome will be sabotaged by mutual mistrust or fear that the other party might not perform as promised. Mistrust therefore has two modalities, one tied to anticipation and fear of death in the domain of war, and another one tied to agreements and generalised fear (uncertainty) in the domain of the state of nature. In what follows we shall focus on the second modality of mistrust. As may be remembered from Chapter 2, Hobbesian covenants fall into two categories, moral and prudential, depending on the ground adduced for keeping them. The formal criterion of a moral covenant or a promise is that a promise ought to be kept because of the antecedent fact of having made such a promise. But it is possible to derive this oughtness of promisekeeping from a non-formal principle of morality. Some theorists appeal to a principle of rationality and self-interest (Gauthier 1969). The trouble with covenants grounded in self-interest is that it may be advantageous to break them whenever there is little chance of detection or reputational damages. This is the crux of Hobbes’s dispute with the Foole, the proverbial freerider who hopes to benefit by breaking one’s promise while exploiting the general practice of promise-keeping in society (L XV, 203 ). It may be tempting to think that Hobbes refutes the Foole with the claim that an act of promise-breaking is injurious to one’s rational self-interest in the
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long run (L XV, 205 ). But this would be to forget that rationality is a symmetric principle: It may give one a compelling reason to enter into an agreement, and an equally compelling one to break it. The question of why promises ought to be kept has no determinate solution as long as it is construed as a rational problem. Only if we see it as a moral problem does it have such a (conditional) solution. The point here is that the moral problem of keeping covenants in the state of nature is a matter of trust and mistrust, not one of rationality or irrationality. Hobbes thinks that some rare individuals will keep their word in the state of nature, exhibiting a peculiar kind of pride or glory (L XIV, 200 ). The first-performer, by acting as promised, trusts that the second performer will reciprocate. But this is a risky act since the second performer may renege on one’s promise. This display of ‘noble courage’ by the firstperformer is an aristocratic virtue, according to Oakeshott and Strauss. The prototype of this noble figure is Hobbes’s friend, Francis Godolphin, to whom Leviathan is dedicated. Although Strauss is enchanted with the aristocratic virtue of trust, he concludes that most people will embrace the less risky virtue of self-preservation typical of the new bourgeois classes. For Strauss, Hobbesian morality is bourgeois morality (Strauss 1963, 121; see also Macpherson 1962, 48, 62). Oakeshott alone discerns in the covenants of mutual trust the precarious beginnings of a Hobbesian morality (1975a, 71) in the state of nature and this reading strikes me as the most illuminating. In a covenant of mutual trust, Oakeshott observes, the first-performer acts in a manner that risks betrayal: It is a ‘voluntary act of self-denial’ (1975a, 71). But Oakeshott does not consider that there may be different kinds of trust-based relations, not all of which are conceptually tied to risk and morality. Take the objection that acting on trust, far from representing self-abnegation, is a form of self-interested conduct. Hardin has argued that one may have an interest in appearing trustworthy to others, as a precondition for being accepted as a party to a covenant (Hardin 2002; Kavka 1983, 299). Hardin’s argument is about trustworthiness, a notion principally distinct from trust. Trustworthiness is the provision of assurance to the other party that one will act as promised (Hardin 2002). In contrast, acting on trust is an act of risk acceptance by oneself. Risk taking is a self-imposed act of will that resembles Kant’s moral concept of autonomy. Nonetheless, Kant’s moral theory (1997) presupposes the idea of logical necessity (reason) and practical necessity (duty), while Hobbes’s morality of trust has risk and uncertainty as its necessary conditions of moral
conduct. The rationale for exposing oneself to risk, by acting as a firstperformer in a covenant of mutual trust, without any assurance that the other party will follow suit, lacks any logical or practical necessity. It is possible that a trusting first-performer may be found, and it is equally possible that the second performer may reciprocate this trust. If this happens, the covenant of mutual trust will have created a nascent moral bond between the two parties, an obligation for the promisor and a corresponding right for the promisee. But because possibilities are not certainties, Hobbes’s morality of trust constitutes a world where moral relations remain precarious (Oakeshott 1975a, 41). This morality shows how moral relations may begin to evolve in the state of nature if certain persons, those who are not narrowly concerned with their own individual advantage or security, would be courageous enough to expose themselves to the risk of trusting others.
A Structuralist Reading of Hobbes’s State of Nature
So far the focus has been on Hobbes’s passions account of the state of war and its governing motives, glory, mistrust, and the master passion of fear. Agents were able to ameliorate this condition of war by making covenants, especially under the shadow of fear of death. But, as we have seen, although covenants of mutual trust can set moral relations in motion, they cannot stabilise them: The resultant moral ties are uncertain. An alternative path to morality for natural persons that Hobbes charts requires agents to create and follow common rules of interaction (L XVIII, 234 ; XXVI, 312 ). The scope of this rule-based argument is not the special condition of war but the more general condition of a state of nature. Before analysing these rules, the present section will outline a structuralist account of Hobbes’s state of nature. It is important to distinguish the state of nature in a generic sense, a term used in this book to designate any unregulated interaction domain bereft of common rules, from a particular state of nature, be it Hobbesian, Kantian or Lockean, which has specific parameters. A description of a generic state of nature would have to include features pertaining to the agents and their environment. The proposal here is to analyse the state of nature in terms of five factors concerning the agents with respect to their (1) properties; (2) motives; (3) goals; and (4) means as well as (5) the properties of their interaction domain as a whole. My aim is to present a structuralist account of Hobbes’s state of nature that abstracts away the motives that the agents
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may have, and emphasises the constraints of the environment. Concretely, only properties that are isomorphic (similar) across all agents, and means that are not linked to any substantive ends should be included in an account of this kind. The external goals of the agents must be included as well, while their internal motives must be excluded except for the class of limiting motives that get their interaction going. The interaction domain must be a bounded, finite space, and the agents must be units that occupy space. To develop a structuralist reading of Hobbes’s state of nature, it is requisite to establish which of Hobbes’s particular parameters match the five structuralist assumptions in the above-described schema. These parameters are outlined in Chaps. XIII through XV of Leviathan. The first Hobbesian assumption, reflecting the isomorphic properties of the agents, is freedom and equality. All natural persons in Hobbes’s state of nature are free and equal: They are equally vulnerable to bodily harm and death (L XIII, 183 60–61; XV, 211 ), and have the same capacity for reasoning, as noted previously. They are equally free because in the state of nature each holds a ‘right of nature’, a crucial concept to which we return below. Since our account is structuralist, the passions or internal motives of Hobbesian agents will have to be discounted, except for a set of liming passions (premise two). The limiting passions are hope (‘Appetite with an opinion of attaining’, L VI, 123 ) and fear (‘Aversion, with an opinion of Hurt from the object’, L VI, 123 ). These motives are called limiting because they must be presupposed in acting on any other motive such as greed, glory, or mistrust. Further, in Hobbes’s state of nature everyone is free to pursue any external objective (premise three). Hobbes posits no ultimate good, no summum bonum (L XI, 160 ) only summum malum, death. Each individual dreads the prospect of suffering an unnatural death caused by another human agent (Strauss 1963, 17; Oakeshott 1975b, 88, 95, 100; 2001, 834). Hence, the negative limiting goal of all action is death aversion. Fourth, to fulfil their objectives Hobbesian agents need certain means or ‘power’ defined as one’s ‘present means, to obtain some future apparent Good’ (L XI, 150 ). Fifth, the realm where the agents interact is spatially bounded and finite. Hence, Hobbes assumes that sooner or later they will run into each other with negative consequences. Leaving aside the first premise about equality and freedom for a moment, let us attend to the remaining four premises in the proposed structuralist account. In Hobbes’s passions account endorsed by Strauss, the master passion was fear, and its extreme form, fear of death. Conversely, on the proposed
structuralist account, the master passion is hope. Equality of hope is the motive that makes individuals compete in the state of nature. Notice that the type of competition described in Leviathan is not a replica of the race familiar from The Elements (E I.9.21). In The Elements Hobbes’s argument was that vainglory, a false sense of superiority, ignites the quest for precedence that trumps all other considerations, even that of the agent’s own security. In Leviathan, the motive (the second premise from the schema) for competitive behaviour is not vainglory, but the equality of hope (Oakeshott 1975a, 37). Each individual believes oneself no worse than others—rather than superior to others—a belief that gives an incentive to each to try to outperform potential rivals. Because there is a reasonable chance of winning only against rivals similar in power and ability, the resultant competition is self-limiting. The concept of ‘sovereignty by acquisition’ that Hobbes puts forward in later chapters of Leviathan depends on the claim that enormous power differentials would thwart any competitive effort by rendering it pointless. Hobbesian individuals would compete against equals but, if rational, would submit to an ‘irresistible power’, be that of God or the civil sovereign. To get ahead in the competitive game one needs means or ‘power’ (fourth premise from the structuralist schema). In Leviathan power is an instrumental notion; it enables one to obtain subjectively valued goods. Mcpherson has objected that in this late treatise Hobbes continues to hold onto his earlier, social conception of power (1962, 44–45). But there is little evidence in Hobbes’s text to supports this reading. The social conception of power is originally articulated in The Elements where the agent’s power requires recognition by others or ‘honour’ (E I.8.5). In De Cive individuals crave social recognition or honour, but the object of honour is not restricted to power (DC 1.2). In Chap. X of Leviathan Hobbes expresses a similar point. Honour can be, but need not be, related to power, and power itself comes in various shapes and forms: natural power, instrumental power, and social power (L X, 150–151 ). At the end, power reduces to means for goal satisfaction. And since power can be an instrument for satisfying any goal, it is a limiting concept that has its place in a structuralist account of Hobbes’s state of nature. In this connection, McNeilly has pointed out that there is a relation between means and goals in Hobbes’s state of nature. In a structuralist fashion, these are limiting means and limiting goals corresponding to Hobbes’s concepts of power and felicity (McNeilly 1968, 148). Felicity is the positive limiting goal of action in Leviathan (third premise from the
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schema). Hobbes offers two definitions of it. In Chap. VI of Leviathan it is the state of having one’s desires satisfied continuously, as they may arise from time to time. At the beginning of Chap. XI however it is defined as a ‘continuall progresse of the desire, from one object to another; the attaining of the former, being still but the way to the latter. The cause whereof is, That the object of man’s desire, is not to enjoy once onely, and for one instant of time; but to assure for ever, the way of his future desire’. On this second definition, felicity presupposes not just continuous desire satisfaction, but an uninterrupted process of having desires that are continuously satisfied. McNeilly has observed that this concept is otiose as it does not fit anything that Hobbes says after or before Chap. XI (McNeilly 1968, 135–136). In my view, felicity in this second sense is important as it captures the limiting state of a continuous enjoyment of unobstructed motion. This affords a view of the Hobbesian agent as a desiring machine which functions best when its motion towards the coveted objective is unimpeded. Means and goals, power and felicity, operate in tandem because having adequate means is a condition for attaining what one wants. As a result, the quest for power becomes ubiquitous in Hobbes’s state of nature. But power seeking is not a drive inherent in human nature; power is only a means for obtaining other goals (Malcolm 2002, 442), whose outer limit is felicity. Finally, the fifth premise in the structuralist schema concerns the realm of interaction as a whole. When a number of individuals, pursuing diverse, often incompatible goals, are confined to a finite space, their interaction will inevitably lead to inconveniences. On my reading indebted to McNeilly (1968) and Oakeshott (1975a), the core problem that Hobbes identifies is not physical harm, but infelicity. Infelicity is understood as mutual frustration in light of the agents’ inability to continue moving towards a desired goal (McNeilly 1968, 180; Oakeshott 1975a, 64). On this interpretation, in Hobbes’s state of nature individuals are frustrated not because their passions and reasons make them clash, but because the pursuit of felicity by each is obstructed by the mere presence of the rest. This resembles a congestion problem where drivers on the road prevent each other from getting to a desired destination. The primary factor that explains this outcome is topological: The physical limits of the interaction space, as well as the physical constitution of individuals as units with a spatial extension. To construct a structuralist account of Hobbes’s state of nature we need the key premise of a finite interaction domain, the concepts that describe the
isomorphic properties of the agents, freedom and equality, as well as their limiting goals, felicity and self-preservation, and abstract means, power. The Right of Nature: Freedom and Felicity The first premise, about freedom and equality, from the structuralist account of Hobbes’s state of nature still needs to be examined. Instead of treating freedom and equality separately, the strategy here will be to explore them as related, via the notion of equal freedom that underpins Hobbes’s right of nature. In Leviathan this type of right is introduced in the opening paragraph of Chap. XIV, on the state of nature. Hobbes no longer sees the state of nature as a joint outcome of the passions and the right of nature as he did in his previous writings. The right of nature suffices to generate the condition of ‘mere nature’, and this, it is claimed here, reveals a structuralist drift in Hobbes’s thinking. My point is that infelicity stems from an infringement on the right of nature, and that both concepts express a fundamental problem of freedom. Hobbes defines the right of nature as: The Liberty each man hath, to use his power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own Judgement, and Reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto. (L XIV, 189 )
The right of nature constitutes natural liberty that is Janus-faced. On one side, it is a liberty ‘each man hath to use his power … for the preservation of his own nature’. This links the right of nature to death aversion and selfpreservation, the limiting, negative goal of action in the state of nature. On the other side, it is a ‘liberty each man hath, to use his power, as he will himselfe’. This resembles Hobbes’s concept of felicity understood as an unobstructed movement towards a desired objective. The right of nature is an exercise of power that enables the pursuit of felicity, the positive, limiting goal of action for Hobbes. From this it is easy to get to the problem of infelicity. Whenever multiple individuals, each holding a right of nature, begin to act on their right without restraint inside a common interaction domain, the result can only be mutual frustration. To get to mutual interference one has to commence with a notion of liberty as absence of external obstruction to action. This indeed is how Hobbes thinks of the concept in Leviathan: ‘By LIBERTY is understood,
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according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of externall Impediments’ (L XIV, 189 ). The challenge is that in this mature work Hobbes has changed his previous conception of liberty. In this respect, Francis Hood’s analysis (1967) remains particularly insightful. Hood shows that in Hobbes’s pre-1646 writings, including De Cive and The Elements , Hobbes developed two distinct but related conceptions of liberty (Hood 1967, 156). The first may be termed deliberative liberty. It refers to the idea that liberty is taken away by putting an end to the act of deliberation. For Hobbes, ‘deliberation’ is a chain of alternating desires and aversions that culminate in an action, or in a thought that the action is impossible (L VI, 127 ). The second conception is freedom from impediments. In De Cive these include internal impediments to one’s intended action (such as fear) as well as external impediments including physical obstructions or normative ones (obligations) (DC 15.7). In Leviathan only the concept of external impediments is retained, as the above quote illustrated. Commentators agree that Hobbes’s duo of conceptions of liberty are connected, but they understand differently these conceptions and the nature of their connection. Philip Pettit, for example, defines deliberative liberty (‘freedom as non-commitment’ in Pettit’s terms) as a freedom to choose between alternatives that is not bound by a prior commitment or obligation (2004, 134). It ends when the agent decides to act or forbear from acting. In contrast, freedom from external impediment (Pettit’s ‘freedom as non-obstruction’) means that there is an external, usually physical obstacle, that prevents one from enacting what one has decided to do (2004, 137). For Pettit, this externalist type of freedom presupposes that the agent has both will (desire) and power to act (2004, 139). Hood, however, thinks that will and power characterise both forms of Hobbesian freedom. An impediment is external in that it blocks an action, which the agent is otherwise willing and capable of performing. Deliberative liberty for Hood is not a decision procedure of practical reason, as it is for Pettit, but a practical freedom ‘to do or to forbear’ (Hood 1967, 151). This type of liberty requires that the agent possesses the power to act, and the will to use it for some action. According to Hood, the connection between the two forms of freedom is evident in the fact that ‘from 1646 onwards [Hobbes] held that impediments are external and that there can be no impediment until a man has finished deliberating and is endeavouring to act’ (1967, 151). For Hood, then, Hobbes has a single conception of liberty with two aspects: It is an absence of external physical impediments (including obligations conceived in this way) and the impediments are to the exercise of the
agent’s natural power to do or forbear (Hood 1967, 150). Both Pettit and Hood recognise the fusion of the two aspects of freedom in the process of forming an intention up to the point of performing an action that may be blocked by external obstacles, but Hood usefully prioritises the category of action over decision and emphasises the role of power and will. It follows that according to the argument of Leviathan, liberty is not dependent on internal impediments. A lack of a desire to act, or a lack of power in the agent (such as an incapacitating illness or weak reasoning power) does not infringe on liberty but indicates that a certain precondition for acting is missing. What constitutes such an infringement is an external interference by a force of nature (when a person is tied to a bed and cannot move), by the bodies and actions of other agents, and significantly, by self-incurred obligation. The act of undertaking an obligation via covenant is voluntary (an ‘act of one’s own’, L XXI, 268 ). But once undertaken, obligation becomes an external normative block that restricts the future options for free action by the agent and which, if neglected, can be coercively enforced by a public authority (Pettit 2004, 144ff.). Hobbes’s right of nature in Leviathan is a function of natural liberty that depends on the agent’s power and on the presence of external obstacles, subject to the limiting end of self-preservation. On the hypothesis advanced so far, Hobbes is using the right of nature in relation to external impediments to construct the problem of mutual frustration (infelicity). Frustation here is external interference with the exercise of one’s freedom. Hobbes’s argument is that the simultaneous, free exercise of the right of nature by a multitude of individuals will frustrate its exercise by each. Individuals would be unable to freely undertake, let alone achieve, what they want because their efforts would be blocked by the similar efforts of others. They will tend to bump into one another, or seek in vain to gain possession of the same object that may not be scarce in itself (Tuck 1996, 185), or they may experience others as nuisances. The major inconvenience in this scenario is not physical insecurity or harm but infelicity. Infelicity, as Oakeshott remarks, reflects a tension between the condition of man alone, and the condition of ‘a man among men’ (1975a, 36–38, 64). The insight here is that infelicity is not just an accidental frustration but a frustration built into the structure of the situation: It is an inevitable outcome of human agents living in close proximity. In the terms of the structuralist model developed above, the conclusion is that free and equal individuals confined to a finite interaction domain will inevitably collide with one another if we assume, with Hobbes, that they all hold an equal right of nature, possess will and
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power to enact this right, and hope that any another individual, being no more capable than oneself, will not be an obstacle to the attainment of wished for ends. In the next section, we shall consider how Hobbes explains the relation between the right of nature, as a non-normative relation, and the laws of nature which are normative constraints on conduct. The Right of Nature and the Laws of Nature Hobbes’s draws a distinction between a ‘bare’ state of nature and a mature state of nature that includes normative constraints on action: covenants, and laws of nature. Both of these constraining devices demand that the agents accept restrictions on the exercise of their unconditional right of nature. But whereas covenants represent transactions between particular individuals, the laws of nature bind all rational agents in the state of nature. This part of the discussion focusses on the laws of nature. In Leviathan Hobbes has changed the definition of the laws of nature from general precepts of reason to general rules (L XIV, 189 ; see below). Hobbes shows that the laws of nature, like covenants, remain fundamentally uncertain normative bonds and points to a tentative linguistic solution to the basic problem of uncertainty. One obvious question is, why does Hobbes introduce weak normative relations such as laws of nature and covenants in the state of nature instead of relying on strict moral constraints such as the inalienable moral rights proposed by Locke (1980) or Kant (1997)? The reason is that Hobbes’s theory of human conduct has a naturalist streak. For Hobbes human minds are part of the causal order of nature, ‘prudence’ is a capacity to read natural signs that are overt manifestations of this order, and the human passions are internal effects of external, physical causes. And yet, the pluralism of Hobbes’s philosophical outlook vitiates any attempt to describe him as a pure naturalist (Malcolm 2016, 120), or, as pure rationalist, for that matter. In all his presentations on morals and politics Hobbes begins by positing natural facts about human beings such as physical constitution, passions, or rational powers. Having described what human agents feel and want he sets out to arrive at normative relations such as laws of nature that tell them what they ought to feel and want. But this attempt to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ seems suspect. For Hobbes, however, the laws of nature are not just prescriptions; they are prescriptive propositions —and this emphasis on language constitutes a difference of enormous philosophical significance.
Language was important to Hobbes’s view of morals from the beginning, starting with The Elements , but it was only in Leviathan that he employed linguistic propositions to close the gap between ‘is’ and ‘ought’. Taken by themselves, facts and norms are incongruent, since describing what is the case does not tell us anything about what should be the case. The incongruence is removed once facts are transformed into propositions about facts, and norms into normative propositions. Notice that both Hobbesian covenants and the laws of nature have a linguistic character. Covenants are speech acts (‘signes of the will’), and the laws of nature in Leviathan constitute rules —action-guiding propositions. Each law of nature is a conditional proposition with two clauses one of which is a proposition about natural facts. It has the form: ‘If you wish to avoid consequences Y, then you ought to refrain from acting in a manner X’; if you wish to avoid being killed in the state of nature, then you ought to refrain from acting in a manner that is arrogant (or revengeful, etc.). ‘Acting in a manner X’ can be interpreted as ‘Acting on passion P’ (where ‘P’ ranges over passions such as arrogance, ingratitude, revengefulness, and so on as enumerated in the laws of nature). A passion such as arrogance may be a natural fact about human beings, but the proposition ‘If you wish to avoid consequences Y, then you ought to refrain from acting in a manner that is arrogant’ is a hypothetical statement. This statement does not require that, as a matter of fact, there is a passion P, it only states that if there were a passion P, then it would be advisable not to act on it. Hobbes refers to hypothetical natural facts about human beings that need not match any real natural facts. There is no purchase in cataloguing the nineteenth laws of nature enumerated in Leviathan. Substantively, their contents are the same as in De Cive, except that Hobbes has removed the law against drunkenness and the law about judges (Gert 1988, 26). The laws of nature continue to be ‘theorems of reason’. But in Leviathan, and this is the major shift, they are defined as general rules. A law of nature is ‘a generall Rule, found out by Reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that, which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same’ (L XIV, 189 ). As such it is distinct from the right of nature ‘because RIGHT consiseth in liberty to do, or to forbeare; Whereas LAW, determineth, and bindeth to one of them: so that Law, and Right, differ as much, as Obligation, and Liberty; which in one and the same matter are inconsistent’ (L XIV, 189 ). In turn, the fundamental law of nature prescribes ‘That every man, ought to endeavour peace, as farre as he has hope of obtaining it; and when
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he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre’ (L XIV, 190 , italics removed). The first part of this rule (‘Seek peace, and follow it’) is the fundamental law of nature, the second one is not a law of nature, but the right of nature (it enjoins ‘By all means we can, to defend ourselves’). In De Cive Hobbes attempted to subordinate the right of nature to the law of nature. There he used an almost identical formula for the fundamental law of nature, ‘That peace is to be sought after, where it may be found; and where not, there to provide ourselves for helps of war’ (DC 2.2). His argument was that securing the common goal of all individuals, peace and defence, entails securing the individual goal of self-preservation. But no strict entailment follows because this common goal is qualitatively different from the subjective, private goals, or ‘apparent goods’, that interests covetous, Hobbesian individuals. The general notion of a rule that is central to Leviathan enables Hobbes to preserve the idea of peace, as a regulative idea for the state of nature. But peace is not a substantive end for all agents. The laws of nature do not prescribe common ends; they prescribe common conditions that individual agent ought to observe in pursuing their private ends. The basic condition is one of mutual restraint and equal liberty for all. Hence, the second law of nature that follows from the fundamental law of nature states that every individual should ‘lay down this right to all things, and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe’ (L XIV, 190 , emphasis added). Thus, we can read Hobbes’s second law of nature as a rule against undue interference upheld by multiple agents which enables them to retain as much as possible from their original natural liberty. The concern here is not with bare life and self-preservation, but with a meaningful life where one is free to engage in self-chosen projects without fear of suffering constant obstruction by fellow beings (Malcolm 2016, 122).The substantive idea of peace has been replaced by the universal rule of seeking peaceful coexistence.
Language and Uncertainty
If Hobbes sees the laws of nature as rules that regulate conduct in the state of nature, as has been suggested above, then this leads to a problem of uncertainty. The reason is that this kind of rules can be misunderstood by the intended audience. As we shall see, this problem is epistemological
and differs from the problem of physical uncertainty associated with fear of death. The thrust of Hobbes’s argument is that the two principal normative relations in the state of nature, covenants and laws of nature, are impaired by uncertainty. Covenants of mutual trust may give rise to moral obligations and rights, but in the condition of ‘mere nature’ they are unreliable because covenanters can always break their word (L XIV, 196 ). Compared to covenants that reflect the contingencies of subjective willing, the laws of nature, in virtue of being general prescriptions, appear to be a firmer guide to conduct. But these laws are themselves uncertain because in the state of nature each individual agent remains free to interpret their meaning (Oakeshott 1975a, 41). Even if people were to agree on the importance of a certain law of nature, that against ‘contumely’ say, they would disagree over what the term ‘contumely’ means. The reason why this is a problem is that the laws of nature can coordinate human interaction only if most of the agents know that they are using the same rules. This in turn requires that they agree on the terms that enter into the descriptions of these laws. The uncertainty Hobbes identifies stems from the inability of individuals to agree on a public language in the state of nature. The solution is to institute such a language in the form of public reason (L V, 111 ; see also XVIII, 234 ). In Chap. IV of Leviathan Hobbes spends a great deal of effort to show the importance of unambiguous language with fixed reference. At the end he realises that public order requires removing the ambiguity not from human language as such, an impossible task, but only with respect to those legal predicates that describe the external relations between people. For only these external relations where individuals can infringe each other’s freedom of action or physically harm each other are subject to legal regulation by the state. The public language of the sovereign is the language of civil law. It is meant to regulate the foro externo or the sphere of human interaction, not the foro interno or the private thoughts that individuals might be entertaining as solitary thinkers (L XV, 215 ). In short, the sovereign state imposes political order by establishing a linguistic order. The concept of ‘right reason’ in Leviathan designates the public reason of the sovereign who is authorised to fix the meaning of central legal conceptions such as property, theft, and injury (L XVIII, 234 ). Hobbes alluded to this possibility in the closing paragraphs of The Elements but in Leviathan he fastens onto the arbitrary, conventional character of right reason. It is not that the sovereign has intrinsically superior knowledge
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about matters of ‘mine and thine’, but that he holds the exclusive right to authoritatively determine the meaning of these terms within the semantic context of the civil law. In itself this determination is arbitrary, but once it is promulgated and made known to the public, it begins to provide a reliable standard of proper legal relations. To know what ‘property’, ‘trespass’, or ‘crime’ means, the subject must inform oneself of the public, juridical definition of these terms; one’s private beliefs or those of fellows cannot be a source of such secure knowledge. It follows that in lieu of their indeterminacy of meaning, the laws of nature will remain uncertain until they are incorporated into a system of civil law (Oakeshott 1975a, 41). Civil law constitutes a stable basis for the interpretation of natural law, without rendering it otiose. More generally, Hobbes construes the state of nature as a realm of epistemological uncertainty from which civil law provides a relief. This type of uncertainty is more fundamental that the concern with life and limb with which Hobbes‘s justification of the juridical state is conventionally associated because it continues to linger on even after questions of physical uncertainty appear to have been settled. The curious implication is that Hobbes combines an internalist, meaning-based view of language with an externalist, structuralist conception of human relations. There is, no tension in doing this as long as ‘external’ describes the domain of action and interaction between agents as opposed to their privately held beliefs. Public language, and here Hobbes anticipates Ludwig Wittgenstein (1968), can become the basis of common rules of conduct whose meaning a community of agents understands and in this sense ‘internalises’.
The foregoing pages interpreted Leviathan as containing two parallel accounts of the state of nature. The first, restricted to the ‘state of war’ as a condition of anticipation and enmity, prioritises the passions, whereas the other, much broader one, presented a structuralist explanation of the state of nature as a set of external relations between free and equal agents. Under the first perspective, passions such as glory, and specifically the fear of death, are causes of war but also means for ending war. The solution to this war-like condition is to enter into covenants. On the alterative perspective, each individual in the state of nature fears others not as potential murderers but, rather, as potential obstructors to one’s pursuits of self-chosen ends.
This problem of freedom can be addressed by the creation of common rules, either laws of nature, or civil laws. However, both covenants and the laws of nature, as normative relations in the state of nature, remain uncertain. Covenants can be stabilised through coercion by the civil state. The laws of nature as general rules of conduct are burdened by epistemological uncertainty which, as Hobbes conjectured, can be overcome by means of public reason that supplies a public language, that of civil law. In the next part of this book, we shall see how these alternative explanations can illuminate Hobbesian theories of international relations.
Note 1. In this chapter, the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; the English translation of De Corpore [Concerning Body], Volume I in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, edited by William Molesworth (London: John Bohn, 1839), originally published in Latin in 1655; Leviathan, edited by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC,’ and De Corpore, as ‘DCor’. References to The Elements and De Corpore are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets.
Bibliography Deigh, John. 2012. Hobbes’s Philosophy in De Cive and Leviathan. Hobbes Studies 25 (2): 199–208. Gauthier, David. 1969. The Logic of Leviathan: The Moral and Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Geach, Peter T. 1972. History of the Corruptions of Logic. In Logic Matters, ed. Peter T. Geach, 44–61. Berkeley: University of California Press. Gert, Bernard. 1988. The Law of Nature as a Moral Law. Hobbes Studies 1: 26–44. Gert, Bernard. 2001. Hobbes on Reason. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (3–4): 234–257.
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Hardin, Russell. 2002. Trust and Trustworthiness. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Hobbes, Thomas. 1839. De Corpore [Concerning Body]. Volume I In The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. William Molesworth. London: John Bohn (Originally published in 1655). Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Hood, F.C. 1967. The Change in Hobbes’s Definition of Liberty. The Philosophical Quarterly 17 (67): 150–163. Kant, Immanuel. 1997. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1785). Kavka, Gregory S. 1983. Hobbes’s War of All Against All. Ethics 93 (2): 291–310. Locke, John. 1980. Second Treatise of Government, ed. C.B. Macpherson. Indianapolis: Hackett (Originally published in 1690). Macpherson, C.B. 1962. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Malcolm, Noel. 2002. Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations. In Aspects of Hobbes, ed. Noel Malcolm, 432–456. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Malcolm, Noel. 2016. Hobbes: Liberal Illiberal. Journal of the British Academy 4: 113–136. McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975a. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975b. The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes. In Hobbes on Civil Association, 80–140. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 2001. Letter on Hobbes. Political Theory 29 (6): 834–835. Pettit, Philip. 2004. Liberty and Leviathan. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (1): 131–151. Slomp, Gabirella. 2000. Thomas Hobbes and the Political Philosophy of Glory. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Strauss, Leo. 1963. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Tuck, Richard. 1996. Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy. In The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, ed. Tom Sorell, 175–207. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1968. Philosophical Investigations, 3rd ed., trans. G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations
Hobbes and the International Anarchy
Having examined Hobbes’s arguments for a state of nature among human beings in Part II, we now turn to Hobbes’s theory of international relations. Hobbes did not himself provide such a theory but his writings on morality and politics, particularly in Leviathan, seem to point indirectly to an image of states as agents co-existing in a state of nature or under ‘international anarchy’.1 This is the theme of the present chapter. Before we commence, it should be noted that in this book the term ‘anarchy’ refers to the general conception of a state of nature as an unregulated interaction realm and not (unless explicitly specified) to the narrow, realist conception that regards the realm of interaction among states as permeated by uncertainty, mutual hostility, and violence. It is of course the case that Hobbes is often classified as a progenitor of the realist tradition of international relations (Wight 1991). Recently intellectual historian David Armitage (2006) has expressed a worry that all those who identify Hobbes as an authority on international relations overlook the fact that his writing on the topic were scant. Thus we may wonder ‘how did he come to be accepted as a foundational figure in the history of international thought if his reflections on the subject were so meagre?’ (Armitage 2006, 222). Worse even, the picture of Hobbes as a theorist of the international anarchy in the realist sense is anachronistic, as it belongs to the twentieth-century formative discourse of the discipline of International Relations (Armitage 2006, 231; Schmidt 1998). While such worries should not be dismissed lightly, they should not prevent us from embarking on an exploration of Hobbes’s concept of the state of © The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_6
nature among states (Boucher 2018, 206, n. 102). In what follows, the term ‘international anarchy’ has been retained with the proviso that it is a label for Hobbes’s concept of an international state of nature which is internally complex and which does not match perfectly any current theory of international relations. Because Hobbes’s remarks on international relations are indeed fragmentary, any philosophical analysis would have to be reconstructive. But its starting point at least is clear: if the logic of Hobbes’s political philosophy of the state is transposed to the international domain, to capture the relations between states, it will generate two models: an international state of nature, or a super state. These two models of the international realm are explored in Sects. 6.2 and 6.4 of the present chapter (Chapter 7 will consider a hybrid, ‘internationalist’ model.) An intermediate section covers an approach called ‘normativism’ that portrays Hobbes’s international state of nature as regulated by the laws of nature. Although it does not yield a model of its own, this approach raises important questions about the place of morality in Hobbes’s doctrine of international relations. The discussion is structured around a central problem that continues to occupy students of Hobbes—namely, why, did he think that the inconveniences of the state of nature among human individuals would be remedied by instituting a civil state, but did not recommend that states themselves institute a global state (see Airaksinen and Bertman 1989)? That is, why ‘exiting’ the domestic state of nature is desirable, while exiting the international state of nature may not be? Realists and ‘normativists’ provide different answers to this question, tackled in Sects. 6.2 and 6.3. These reflect different takes on the basic uncertainty model of Hobbes’s state of nature (see Chapter 3). The introductory section prepares the ground by outlining the idea of the civil state as a security provider that can manage uncertainty. Once all the arguments are in, we shall be in a position to appreciate Hobbes’s scepticism about a global state (Sect. 6.4).
Exiting the State of Nature: The Differentia of the International State of Nature The Domestic State as a Security Provider
The thrust of my interpretation in this book is that Hobbes’s conception of a civil state is central to his political philosophy, and that his political philosophy includes a nascent doctrine of international relations. To be
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able to specify the premises and arguments that comprise this doctrine, first we should take a detour and consider his justification of the civil state. The Hobbesian state is a realm where the citizens live under common, coercive laws. It is the only institution that makes possible an effective ‘exit’ from the state of nature as a state of war or a condition of permanent fear and insecurity. Moreover, it is a sui generis institution with two faces. Formally, it is a juridical persona that makes, interprets, and enforces the law in the domain of its jurisdiction and thus over the individuals subject to this jurisdiction: its citizens. Functionally, it is supposed to carry out certain social functions such as taxation (E II.1.13; L XXX, 377 , 386  DC 13.11) and external and internal defence (E II.1.2, II.1.4; DC 5.9, 13.6; L XVII, 132 ). In this latter capacity it acts as ‘government’. One rationale for establishing the Hobbesian state is that it represents a special kind of security provider. This constitutes a basic rationale, if not the only one, for its existence (Vanderschraaf 2019, 192). The government of the state acts to ensure the public safety of all its citizens within its territory, thereby protecting them from a general range of threats which they cannot eschew as long as they remain disassociated, private individuals in the state of nature. Hobbes’s concept of salus populi is not limited to physical security; it includes not just ‘bare Preservation, but also all other Contentments of life’ (L XXX, 376 ; see also E II.9.1; DC 13.4). What inclines the subjects to leave the state of nature and to enter the lawful condition of the state is fear of death, coupled with ‘the desire for such things as are necessary for commodious living; and a Hope by their industry to obtain them’ (L XIII, 188 ). Notice that the provision of public safety is not discretionary; it is a duty falling upon the sovereign (Malcolm 2002, 447; Lott 1989, 96; Willms 1989, 137). Since the sovereign is not a party to the social contract, this duty is not owed directly to the citizens: It is a ‘positional duty’ tied to the office of sovereignty itself. If the sovereign loses the capacity to discharge it, for example, by capitulating to another sovereign in war, the subjects are released from the social contract (E II.2.15; L XXI, 273 ). The International Dimension of the State A point that needs emphasis is that Hobbes’s concept of the state, and of salus populi, is linked to the realm of international relations from the start. The primary task of the sovereign is the ‘preserving of Peace and Security, by prevention of Discord at home and Hostility from abroad’
(L XVIII, 233 [90–91]). This includes protecting citizens from private violence, defending the entire citizenry from internal threats including the seditious activities of political factions, religious sects, and rebels, or external threats posed by other states (E II.9.3; DC 13.6). In The Elements and De Cive Hobbes urges sovereigns to avoid ‘unnecessary wars’ motivated by vainglory (E II.9.9; DC 13.8).2 In this case ‘war’ designates organised violence. However, ‘war’ as a Hobbesian term of art ‘consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary’ (L XIII, 186 ). War as a mental state of epistemological uncertainty, at least of certain conceptions, is constitutive of Hobbes’s state of nature. It is notable that states, in the course of preparing for war—an anticipatory stance that places them in the international state of nature—do not impose economic hardship or security hazards on the citizens inside their borders (L XIII, 188 ; Boucher 1990, 231; Grover 1989, 84; Lott 1989, 96; Kavka 1983, 305). This can be contrasted with the misery which natural persons must endure prior to the institution of the civil state (Boucher 1990, 231; Bull 1981, 727; Forsyth 1979, 208; Kavka 1983, 306). With this claim, Hobbes has drawn his first distinction between the domestic and the international state of nature. Within the domestic state of nature, individuals must devote all their energy to the preparation for battle. This robs them off from any leisure necessary for the development of agriculture, engineering, science, or the arts (L XI, 162 ; XIII, 186 ; Jaede 2018, 31; Kavka 1983, 292). But this does not seem to happen in the international state of nature, and it is interesting to see why. States Versus Natural Persons One way to explain why the two states of nature are distinctive is by pointing to the differences between their primary actors, natural persons as opposed to purely artificial persons, states. At least four differences can be identified. First, states can better withstand a lethal attack. A human individual can be destroyed by a single fatal blow, but a wartime offensive proceeds in stages allowing the target state to recover (Bull 1966, 45; 1981, 734). And whereas a human being can easily be killed in one’s sleep, ‘The Leviathan never sleeps and (except in special circumstances) it never dies’, as Michael Williams remarks (1996, 227; see also Malcolm 2002, 450). Because the modern state has a standing army it has an uninterrupted defence capability (Jaede 2018, 29). Second, given its resilience against physical destruction,
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the state is not forced to seek relative security vis-a-vis other states but can engage in economic cooperation (Bull 1966, 45; Jaede 2018, 29). Third, states are more self-reliant economically than human beings (Bull 1966, 47). A fourth distinction concerns the problem of agent equality in relation to vulnerability. Under the basic uncertainty model presented in Chapter 3, Hobbes’s domestic state of nature is a condition where everyone is afraid of being killed by everyone else. This extreme fear arises because human beings are roughly equal in reasoning and physical capacities, including susceptibility to physical harm. The equality of agents promotes pre-emptive strikes because in an encounter between equals in the state of nature it is prudent to attack before one gets attacked. States however are unequal in power; thus, the so-called great powers can more easily deter attacks by smaller powers than vice versa (Bull 1966, 46; 1981, 734; on natural equality more generally see Newey 2011, 66–69; Weiler 1989, 100). When such power asymmetry becomes shared knowledge, it can stabilise expectations and abate the problem of international insecurity (Waltz 1979). In short, the decreased vulnerability to death and increased defence capabilities of states indicate that they need not fear one another to the extent that humans do inside the domestic state of nature. As we may recall from Part II, the fear of death is one of the main factors that compel human individuals to seek protection inside the juridical realm of the Hobbesian state. But some scholars have expressed doubts about the justification of the civil state on this ground. The State Versus Alternative Security Alliances Hobbes’s thesis that the state is the only effective security provider in the state of nature has been challenged. David Boucher, Murray Forsyth, Gregory Kavka, and Noel Malcolm have argued that instead of instituting a Hobbesian state—a centralised, permanent juridical structure with coercive powers—individuals can manage the uncertainty of the state of nature by uniting into groups (Boucher 1990, 220; 2018, 205; Forsyth 1979; Kavka 1983; Malcolm 2002, 449–452). Making groups the central unit of analysis challenges the standard view that Hobbes’s moral and political philosophy is individualist (see Gauthier 1969, 90). This proposal however constitutes a modification rather than a revision of Hobbes’s argument since Hobbes allows a state of nature to emerge between groups (L XIII, 187  XVII, 224 ; Beitz 1979, 37; Kavka 1983, 304). The radical implication of
this modified Hobbesian perspective is that it opens the door for a normative critique of the realist theory of international relations with which Hobbes is commonly associated. With respect to group entities Hobbes’s state of nature may include tribes, families, and pacts of mutual aid (Abizadeh 2011, 302). My concern here is with Hobbes’s arguments for pacts of mutual aid and defensive alliances which have been most thoroughly analysed by Kavka (1983) and Forsyth (1979). Kavka argues that Hobbesian agents would be motivated to submit to a state only if the state of nature constitutes an extreme ‘war of all against all’. Five factors are responsible for this extreme condition—natural equality, conflicting desires (vainglorious pleasure in conquering others, or clash over scarce commodities), forward-looking pursuit of desires (‘felicity’), anticipation, and limited altruism (Kavka 1983, 292–293). The policy of anticipation or launching of pre-emptive strikes is the weightiest factor because even ‘moderates’ in the state of nature who do not crave power and glory would have to adopt this policy for defensive purposes (Kavka 1983, 294). As Hobbes writes, ‘there is no way for any man to secure himself, so reasonable, as Anticipation’ (L XIII, 184 ). According to Kavka, Hobbes’s state of war is a condition of permanent insecurity for the solitary individual. Entering into defensive alliance with others may be one response to this predicament. But, as Hobbes recognises, such alliances are voluntary associations that cannot arrest the power competition among mistrustful confederates who are wary that their former strife may resume at some later time (E I.19.4; DC 5.4; L XVII, 224–225 ). Voluntary alliances are inherently unstable, and thus the options for Hobbesian individuals reduce to acquiescence to an absolute sovereign, or remaining in the state of nature (Kavka 1983, 297). On Kavka’s reading, Hobbes’s state of nature is a state of war where anticipation is a rational policy considering that it is better to kill before one gets killed. Hobbes appears to ignore the negative effects of anticipatory violence—for instance, revealing oneself as an aggressor, provoking defensive countermoves, or, assuming that one has accumulated power, becoming a target for powerhungry glory seekers (Kavka 1983, 298). Instead of practicing anticipation, Kavka suggests, each individual would be better off joining pacts of mutual aid or defensive alliances, which represent a variant of Hobbes’s ‘covenants of mutual trust’ (L XIV, 195 ). Hobbes regards covenants of mutual trust as defective because until a sovereign is instituted, they remain non-enforceable. Being themselves uncertain, they cannot resolve the general problem of uncertainty (Oakeshott 1975a, 41; 1975b, 91) nor
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the special problem of anticipation. Kavka’s strategy for tackling this special problem rooted in mistrust is to append a utility maximisation premise to Hobbes’s premise of prudent (forward-looking) agents who are prone to second-guess each other’s moves. This shifts the emphasis from trust to trustworthiness (Hardin 2002; see Chapter 5, Sect. 5.2). Utility maximisers have a current interest in presenting themselves as trustworthy partners in the long run. This will motivate them to keep their covenants in the state of nature here and now (Kavka 1983, 299). Their decision-making horizon is not backward-looking (keeping a covenant made in the past) but forward-looking (having an interest in future cooperation). Hobbes, it follows, has overlooked group-based security arrangements that have positive advantages over the risky policy of anticipation. Pacts of mutual aid and defensive alliances offer adequate protection to their members in the state of nature and constitute a more appealing alternative to the absolute Hobbesian state, Kavka concludes (1983, 308). What is more, large groups, including states, can also make use of a policy of building defensive alliances. Thereby the harshness of the international state of nature will be mitigated and it would no longer constitute a ‘war of all against all’. Forsyth’s analysis of Hobbes’s state of nature is similar to Kavka’s. Both acknowledge the unique capacity of the state to provide comprehensive security to its members while drawing attention to the security benefits that alternative social formations such as defensive confederacies may provide to individuals under anarchy. Unlike Kavka, Forsyth is occupied with the problem of external relations (1979), understood as relations between the state and its ‘outside’, be it other social groups, or other states. Forsyth interprets the Hobbesian state as a social form whose in-group identity reflects the ‘emergence of “inner” and “outer”, or “us” versus “them”’ (1979, 197). Adopting an evolutionary (non-contractarian) perspective, he claims that it evolves out of the successive stages of the state of nature. Central here is the distinction, both temporal and normative, between the ‘bare’ state of nature, and the ‘modified’ state of nature governed by Hobbes’s laws of nature (Forsyth 1979, 197, 200). Forsyth detects important discontinuities in Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature between the pre-1651 works and Leviathan.3 In the early Elements (1640/1650) and De Cive (1642/1647), the bare state of nature is brought about by the universal, unrestrained exercise of freedom which Hobbes called a right of nature. Under this right ‘man is … free to pursue his welfare not as distinct from the welfare of others, but as if there
were no others from whom “his own” could be, or need be, differentiated’ (Forsyth 1979, 199). The bare state of nature—which Forsyth equates to civil war—is marked by the excess of private judgement and the want of ‘right reason’ (1979, 199). The state of nature has a second stage, ennobled by the laws of nature. These laws enjoin individuals to accept mutual self-limitation on their right of nature, an acceptance that signals the use of ‘right reason’. Hobbesian right reason impels human beings to enter into voluntary pacts, which channel enmity outside of the social group, by differentiating enemies from allies (Forsyth 1979, 200). But, as Hobbes argues in De Cive, such voluntary associations based on a common end remain unstable either because the common end might cease to be important, or because it might clash with the individual’s private ends (DC 5.4). This is why Hobbes insists that the civil state must represent not just many wills concurring in one common end, but one single will (DC 5.6; Forsyth 1979, 201). Hobbes’s account of the state of nature changes in Leviathan Forsyth attributes this change to the fact that the state of war is no longer inferred from the right of nature but from the three conflict promoting passions: competition, anticipatory violence, and glory (1979, 201). The right of nature does not contribute to the state of war in Leviathan. But it is still important to consider why individuals would be willing to lay down this right. In Leviathan and elsewhere, Forsyth argues, the exercise of right reason—which discloses the transition to the mature state of nature—comprises the laying down of the right of nature for the purposes of creating confederacies for mutual protection (1979, 203).4 Such confederacies would be superseded by the civil state not only because it possesses permanence and unity, but because its relatively large membership discourages pre-emptive attacks by less numerous rivals (E I.19.3; DC 5.3; L XVII, 224 [85–86]). As a result the state monopolises the ius belli, the extreme manifestation of the right of nature, which encouraged pre-emptive attacks within defensive confederacies (Forsyth 1979, 205–206). In its external relations, the state holds the supreme ius belli against enemy states, and in its internal realm of jurisdiction, a right of punishment against domestic lawbreakers (Forsyth 1979, 206). The implication is that the state of nature between states has two modalities. The first is a bare state of nature. In De Cive states and their spies are compared to predatory spiders (DC 13.7), and in Leviathan, to ‘gladiators’ in a ‘posture of war’ arising out of their ‘mutual independency’ (L
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XIII, 187 ; Forsyth 1979, 208). However it is also possible to discern in Hobbes’s writings a modulated international state of nature. It follows from the assumption that states represent ‘balancing mechanisms’ that reduce the prospect of war by reducing the incentives of outsiders (and insiders) for attack (Forsyth 1979, 208). Such balancers, as inherently defensive, co-exist in an international state of nature that excludes any active stance of anticipation and pre-emptive strikes. The scholars whose views we examined in this section concluded that Hobbes’s domestic state of nature is similar to the international state of nature. In both domains agents are able to overcome their primal fear and enter voluntary associations which means that their relations no longer represent a Hobbesian state of war. This argument subverts the orthodox, realist reading of Hobbes’s theory of international relations which is our next topic.
The International State of War: The Realist Model
Hobbes, along with Machiavelli and Thucydides, is commonly enlisted as a proto-realist. Realism is associated with a doctrine of international relations which downplays the role of morality, and sees power and security as dominant goals of states who are taken to be central players in the international realm (Smith 1987; Vasquez 1998; for an assessment see Guzzini 1998). For realists, the international sphere is an ‘international anarchy’ or a Hobbesian state of nature among states. Although textbook presentations give us a simplified picture of realism under the motto ‘might makes right’, this approach has internal complexity. A variety of positions, ranging from ethical scepticism (Beitz 1979; Cohen 1984), to theories of the national interest (Morgenthau 1948), ‘reason of state’ (Machiavelli 2003), ‘power politics’ (Wight 1978), to scientific theories of the international system (Waltz 1979) have been called realist. Various strands of realism explain state relations at different levels of analysis: individual (human nature), state (as a sovereign unit), or systemic (the international realm as a whole) (Waltz 1979). My aim here is not to survey the rich tradition of realist thought but to extract a realist model of the state of nature that is compatible with, if not strictly entailed by, Hobbes’s premises. The focus is on models and theories. As the most memorable portraits of realist theory have been painted by critics such as Michael Walzer (1992) and Charles Beitz
(1979) or by sympathisers such as Stanley Hoffmann (1981) the ensuing presentation engages their critical interventions. Different realists borrow ideas from that resonate with their own theoretical stance. The so-called ‘classical realists’ adopt a pessimistic view of international politics as a realm of ‘recurrence and repetition’ (Wight 1966, 26), marked by the inevitable presence of interstate war. Theories of this kind often see the motives of decision makers in international politics as products of an essentially fallible human nature. ‘Structural realists’ such as Kenneth Waltz (1979) and John Mearsheimer (2001) discount motivation and focus on action and interaction instead. They regard the structure of the international system as a constraint which explains why states with different motives end up acting in similar ways, by pursuing power and security. The international structure is ‘anarchic’ in a twofold sense: it is not governed by a common sovereign, and it comprises horizontal relations of formal equality between states (Waltz 1979, 88ff.). Classical realists employ a number of Hobbesian concepts including the passions (‘competition’/greed, mistrust, and fear); the goals of power and security; and the notion of a state of nature as a realm of uncertainty. Structural realists prioritise the Hobbesian concept of state of nature or anarchy, but their understanding of it is, highly abstract and stylised and has little to do with Hobbes’s texts. Let us consider the extent to which classical and structural realist concepts such as power and security correspond to Hobbes’s own categories. In Politics Among Nations, a canonical text of twentieth-century classical realist theory, Hans Morgenthau describes politics as a ‘struggle for power modified only by the different conditions under which this struggle takes place in the domestic and in the international spheres’ (1948, 17). One major difference is that violent means are not permissible methods of domestic politics while ‘the history of the nations active in international politics shows them continuously preparing for, actively involved in, or recovering from organized violence in the form of war’ (Morgenthau 1948, 21). But because interest groups, parties, and leaders clash in the domestic political process, the struggle for power is the benchmark of all politics, inside and outside the state. Morgenthau’s main task is to explain the struggle for power among states. Key here is Hobbes’s premise of a ‘perpetuall and restlesse Desire of power after power’ (Morgenthau 1948, 36, n. 16). What explains this incessant quest for power is the animus dominandi inherent in human nature (1948, 17) as well as the historical rise of nationalism. The unsatisfied
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desire for power of the disadvantaged segments of the population, Morgenthau writes, leads them to rally behind the nation, and their alienation is projected outwards, onto the international scene (1948, 74). The result is an aggressive policy of imperialism. Implementing this policy requires that each nation has adequate means which include the size of its population, the strategic advantage of its geographic location, the wealth of its natural resources, the strength of its national morale, and the quality of its diplomacy (Morgenthau 1948, 80–108). Morgenthau treats power as both means and an end of political action. For Hobbes, however, power is a strictly instrumental notion: It is a person’s ‘present means, to obtain some future apparent Good’ (L X, 150 ). The appropriation of Hobbes’s concept of security within contemporary realism is a more complex matter. For classical realist Martin Wight domestic political theory is a theory of ‘the good life’, whereas international theory is ‘one of survival’ (1966, 33). Mutual accommodation presupposes a common life inside a domestic state but states qua mutually independent units are debarred from the fruits of a common life: Their interaction is limited to pursuing bare survival. It is easy to see that Morgenthau and Wight do not, and indeed need not, rely on Hobbes ’s concepts of power or security—Hobbes may be an inspiration for these classical realists but hardly a guiding figure. Structural realists in their turn assume that the competition for security among states is not a motive but an outcome of the structural constraints of the international anarchy. For defensive realist Waltz (1979) in the absence of a global authority to adjudicate international disputes, each state must practise ‘self-help’ by providing for its own security. No matter what other goals a state may have, it seeks to survive, and whenever possible, to augment its relative power (Waltz 1979, 105, 118, 126). State interaction produces an equilibrium in the international system, a balance of power. Contra Waltz, offensive realist Mearsheimer holds that to survive in an anarchic environment each state must not merely optimise its power position relative to other states, but maximise it, typically by seeking regional hegemony (Mearsheimer 2001; 2006a, 110, 120–122; 2006b, 232, 239). The cumulative result of such maximising pursuits is the ‘tragedy of great power politics’. Clearly, the concept of international anarchy employed by these prominent structural realists has Hobbesian overtones.
If a realist model can be distilled from Hobbes’s premises, then it rests on three propositions about the international anarchy. First, the realist concept of ‘anarchy’ designates Hobbes’s state of nature as a realm of uncertainty. Uncertainty here is associated either with physical insecurity or with the expectation of hostility which aligns realists with the forward-looking paradigm of rational choice and game theory (Gauthier 1969; Hampton 1986; Kavka 1986). Second, the international anarchy is principally distinct from the juridical realm of the domestic state. Third, realists deny that any common rules and norms bind states under the international anarchy. This claim has a morally sceptical version, a morally neutral version, and a morally charged (self-interest-based) version. We shall consider each of these in turn. The idea of a Hobbesian international anarchy may be read sceptically, as a denial that moral constraints have place in the relations between states. Hoffmann expresses it thus: [This] is a state of anarchy, conflicting desires, and scarcity. There is a general struggle for power, fueled by what [Hobbes] calls ‘competition’, ‘diffidence’, and ‘glory’. In this competition the only universal concern is survival … even those who would like to pursue loftier goals cannot escape from the contest waged by the power greedy. This means that the right of nature is the liberty to use one’s power of self-preservation, and that the laws of nature are simply laws of self-preservation, dictated by reason; and those laws involve both selfdefence and war. In such a state there is no morality. (Hoffmann 1981, 11, emphasis added)
This passage compresses a number of recognisable Hobbesian points: The state of war stirred by the passions of competition, diffidence and glory; survival as an end of action; the right of nature, construed as a basic right of self-preservation; the laws of nature as rules of self-preservation; and Hoffmann’s own assessment that the Hobbesian international state of nature, like the domestic state of nature, is bereft of morality. As he emphasises: ‘Morality is simply the name given to behavior in conformity with the law of an established domestic order—with the positive legislation of a Leviathan … But in international affairs, which is a state of nature, and in which there is no such Leviathan, there can be no morality’. (Hoffmann 1981, 11) That international politics like all politics stands above moral concerns is a view that Hoffmann traces back to Thucydides, an author that the young
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Hobbes translated. In the Melian dialogue described in Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian generals tell the Melians, whom they have just conquered, that ‘the standard of justice depends on the equality of power to compel and that in fact the strong do what they have power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept’ (Thucydides 1954, Bk. V:89, 402; Hoffmann 1981, 11). The Melians demand to retain their neutrality in the war, pleading that they have not injured the Athenians, but are slaughtered and enslaved all the same. The Athenians rationalise these atrocities by a logic of necessity: To preserve their empire they must eliminate neutral powers. This logic recognises no moral limits, its sole ends are security and survival, and it is defining of realism, Hoffmann contends (1981, 12, 14). Realism, understood as a form of moral scepticism, has been criticised by Walzer. Walzer defines morality as a language—or judgement about right and wrong—that is intelligible to all human beings. In his classic book, Just and Unjust Wars (1992) he sets out to dispel the core realist principle stating that necessity knows no moral bounds, whose architects are Thucydides and Hobbes. As Walzer remarks’ Hobbes translated Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War and then generalised its argument in his own Leviathan’ (Walzer 1992, 4). But even though the Athenian generals pretended that moral terms have no meaning in the realm of necessity, they themselves used the term ‘necessity’ to mean two separate things: What is indispensible (the elimination of neutral players) when they were justifying the plan to destroy Melos in front of their domestic assembly, and what is inevitable when they were talking to the Melians (Walzer 1992, 8). Walzer’s point is that despite their claims to the contrary, the Athenian generals must have understood the moral difference between these two concepts, and so we do now. This is because ‘moral talk is coercive’ (Walzer 1992, 12); once we use a moral concept, it draws us into a web of moral discourse whose meanings are shared and cannot be distorted to fit one or another interest. Other critics have attributed a morally sceptical doctrine to Hobbes as well. ‘Hobbes holds that there can be no effective moral principles in the state of nature’, writes Charles Beitz (1979, 28). The premise is that ‘morality’ for Hobbes is grounded in self-interest or prudence (Beitz 1979, 29) and that ‘effective’ principles are those that the agents act upon. This refers to Hobbes’s concept of action (foro externo) as distinct from intention, wish, or desire (foro interno) (E I.17.10; DC 3.27; L XV, 214 ). For Hobbes the laws of nature always bind in intention, but not to a course of
action because in the state of nature there is no security. Security demands assurance of reciprocity: it would be dangerous for an individual to follow the laws of nature alone if the rest of the agents disregard these laws. Therefore, Beitz observes, in a Hobbesian world states would find it hard to act on moral (read ‘prudential’) principles without reciprocal compliance by other states (1979, 29–33). The crux of the matter is not the nature of these principles (prudential as opposed to strictly moral) but their obligatoriness. For Beitz, state leaders cannot be obligated to act on the laws of nature, as prudential principles regulating the international state of nature (1979, 33). The difficulty with this reading is that the language of obligation is not consistent with a morally sceptical outlook. Notice that under the label of moral scepticism Beitz categorises both the view that moral standards are otiose in international politics that were discussed by Walzer and Hoffmann (Beitz 1979, 25) but also the view that the agent, including a state, ought to act in one’s self-interest narrowly defined (Beitz 1979, 29). While the former represents moral scepticism, the latter is a moral attitude usually called egoism. Arguments that associate the realist conception of an international state of nature with self-interest or with ethical scepticism have been the ones most commonly discussed by philosophers. A third possibility is to articulate a morally neutral picture of Hobbes’s international state of nature. Support for this interpretation is the famous passage from Chap. XIII in Leviathan: But though there had never been any time, wherein particular men were in a condition of warre one against another; yetin all times, Kings, and Persons of Soveraigne authority, because of their Independency, are in continuall jealousies, and in the state and posture of Gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their Forts, Garrisons, and Guns upon the Frontiers of their Kingdomes; and continuall Spyes upon their neighbours; which is a posture of War. (L XIII, 187–188 )
But Hobbes’s contention that sovereign states are like persons in a state of nature ‘because of their independency’ is equivocal. A realist reading would underline the ideas of physical survival and war as a realm of uncertainty to suggest that, by its mere presence, each single state poses a potential threat to any other state. An alternative, legalist reading of the same passage would interpret independence either in the sense of formal equality (sovereignty), or as an absence of a superior lawgiver (Malcolm 2002, 436). In Chapter 7, this Hobbesian idea will be developed into a Kantian theory
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of international relations. The existence of such alternative readings alerts us to the fact that realism does not hold a monopoly over Hobbes’s concept of the international state of nature.
The International State of Nature: Normativism The Laws of Nature
The realist model sketched above rests on an analogy between the domestic and the international state of nature. But this same analogy is endorsed by opponents to realism such as Boucher (1990, 2018), Forsyth (1979), Malcolm (2002), and Richard Tuck (1989, 1999) whom we can label ‘normativists’. Such dissonant interpretations show that in the absence of further premises the point of the analogy remains unclear. Realists, as we have seen, treat both states of nature, domestic and international, as sufficiently similar and, in addition, postulate a categorical rift between the domestic state, as a domain of mutual restraint that enables the good life, and the international anarchy as an arena of power and security competition. Normativists support the analogy between the domestic and the international states of nature with an extra assumption which depicts both realms as governed by norms, including Hobbes’s laws of nature. Since the laws of nature constitute normative constraints, they imply that morality has a place in international relations thus ruling out moral scepticism. But normativists disagree among themselves about the nature of this international morality. The primary textual evidence for the normativist position is Hobbes’s claim that the law of nations is the law of nature. It appears in every one of his works on moral science (E II.10.10; DC 14.4; L XXX, 394 ), the difference being that in De Cive these laws are said to be ‘alike’, whereas in Leviathan and The Elements , they are ‘the same’. As Hobbes argues in Leviathan, … the Law of Nations, and the Law of Nature, is the same thing. And every Soveraign hath the same Right, in procuring the safety of his People, that any particular man can have, in producing the safety of his own Body. And the same Law, that dictateth to men that have no Civil Government, what they ought to do, and what to avoyd in regard of one another, dictateth the same to Common-wealths, that is, to the Consciences of Soveraign Princes, and Soveraign Assemblies; there being no Court of Naturall Justice, but in the Conscience onely; where not Man, but God raigneth. (L XXX, 394 )
One interesting feature of the fundamental law of nature in Leviathan, as we saw in Chapter 5, is that, in a broad sense, it incorporates the right of nature. So when the injunctions of the law of nature, in a narrow sense, cannot be followed, the agent can fall back on its natural liberty or right of nature. The challenge for interpreters is that Hobbes does not discuss in detail any specific laws of nature that govern states. An exception is the law granting ambassadors safe conduct in war (E I.16.13; DC 3.19; L XV, 213 ). It has been suggested that Hobbes’s law of nature against cruelty (E I.16.10; DC 3.11; L XV, 210 ) can be applied to states. Malcolm for example holds that Hobbes’s justification in De Cive is prudential: Cruel behaviour—‘revenge which respects not the future good’ (DC 3.27n)— would only cause resentment and provoke the harmed party to respond in kind (Malcolm 2002, 438). Drawing on The Elements , Boucher points out that for Hobbes cruelty is a particularly debasing form of fear that betrays a lack of honour (E I.19.2; Boucher 1990, 220–221; 2018, 205). Honour, action that displays power and magnanimity, is not a law of peace—that is, a law of nature—but a law of war. Hobbes describes how in old times warring tribes who lived by rapine acted honourably, by sparing the lives of the defeated and leaving them their instruments of husbandry (E I.19.2; DC 5.2; L XVII, 224 ; Boucher 2018, 209; Jaede 2018, 26, 28). This code of honour can be said to regulate the relations of states. Some normativists adopt a bold attitude and assert that there is no reason why Hobbes’s laws of nature should not operate in the international realm. Forsyth, whose position was outlined above, believes that various forms of social cooperation and alliances of mutual aid can be formed in the state of nature and that their emergence is facilitated by the laws of nature (1979, 200). These laws of reason demand ‘the taking into account of the other person’s rights as well as one’s own’ (Forsyth 1979, 197, original emphasis). They represent normative standards that have a parallel domestic and international application. They require human beings to keep promises, to practise mutual restraint, and to act equitably; and states, to observe treaties, to respect the principles of diplomatic immunity, to recognise each other’s formal equality, and to refrain from wars of aggression (Forsyth 1979, 208–209). The Law of Nature and the Right of Nature As interpreted by Forsyth, Hobbes’s law of nature contains moral precepts which, when suitably modified, apply to the relations between states.
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Against this, Norman Malcolm (2002, 444) has argued that the law of nature is prudentially grounded. States recognise norms such as peace, equality, diplomatic immunity for reasons of enlightened self-interest. For Malcolm, the law of nature derives from Hobbes’s fundamental principle of self-preservation (2002, 445, 456, n. 94). The emphasis on selfpreservation means that war (in the sense of organised violence) cannot as a matter of principle be ruled out as a foreign policy tool because the Hobbesian international state of nature is a realm of uncertainty. Although this reading may look realist, Malcolm identifies three ways in which Hobbes’s doctrine of international relations parts ways with realism. To begin with, Hobbes does not endorse the structural realist premise that posits a conceptual connection between the international anarchy, anticipation, and pre-emptive war (Malcolm 2002, 449). The occurrence of war is not necessitated by the structure of anarchy but is a matter of contingent fact. Hence, when planning one’s foreign policy the sovereign should gather intelligence to establish the actual intentions of other states (DC 13.7; L XXV, 308 ). Another way in which Hobbes’s position differs from realism is captured by his admonition that sovereigns must avoid ‘unnecessary wars’ in order to protect the public safety and the economic well-being of their citizens (Malcolm 2002, 448). Third, Hobbes would frown at the imperialism envisaged by classical realist Morgenthau (Malcolm 2002, 441–442). Hobbes allows colonial settlements abroad on the grounds that they are necessary for meeting the subsistence needs of a state’s growing population, but he explicitly denies that enslaving or killing the local inhabitants is permitted. Instead they should be encouraged to switch to a more efficient mode of production and land use (L XXX, 337 ). Malcolm reads Hobbes’s law of nature as a single normative standard applicable to both natural persons and states. He insists that there is no law of nations that mimics the law of nature governing the pre-political relations between human individuals: one common normative standard regulates both domains (Malcolm 2002, 446, 448). The law of nature serves to reconcile competing pre-political rights: rights of nature. For Hobbes, the generic term ‘right of nature’ designates the unconstrained liberty to do or to forbear that everyone has in the state of nature (L XIV, 189 ). Malcolm differentiates two forms of this right, moral and jural: ‘jural freedom’ from legal obligation (‘privilege’ in Wesley Hohfeld’s sense, see Hohfeld 1919), and a moral right of self-preservation (2002, 445). If the focus is on law, Malcolm maintains, the analogy between the
domestic and the international state of nature is perfect, as neither domain contains juridical claim-rights that agents hold against other agents (2002, 443, 446). In the absence of a global sovereign, states would not have any claim-rights against each other, even though their interactions would still be governed by the prudential prescriptions of natural law and they would still be able to conclude covenants, albeit unenforceable ones (Malcolm 2002, 444). If the focus instead is on morality, the analogy between a domestic and international state of nature breaks down. The reason for this is that it is incoherent to accord moral rights to states, because in case of a clash, the right of self-preservation of states would override the right of self-preservation of human beings (2002, 446). There is, then, only one basic moral right in Hobbes’s state of nature—a human right of self-preservation. The upshot is that states do not have an independent moral standing but represent proxy actors that must uphold basic human rights.5 But to accept the principle that human rights trump state rights is to deny Hobbes’s claim that that the law of nature is a law of nations. For Malcolm’s version of a law of nature would regulate not the relations of states in their capacity as autonomous agents, but the relations of human beings across state borders, as represented by their respective state in the conduct of its foreign policy. But even when the foreign policy aims of several states happen to converge, and are institutionalised into semi-permanent institutions or ‘regimes’ as they are called nowadays (Krasner 1983), they amount to contingently overlapping policies among separate states. On this scenario, states do not participate in a common set of international institutions exerting normative authority over them: each state remains an independent actor whose relation to other states is purely instrumental. States are not bound by a shared set of international institutions or rules that they understand themselves to be following together: as such they are not participants in an ‘international society of states’ (Bull 2002). The International State of Nature as a Prototype of the Domestic State of Nature Finally, some normativists reverse the relation between the domestic and the international realm. Tuck contends that, from a moral point of view, humans are related to one another like states in the international state of nature. This argument treats the international state of nature as primary and its domestic counterpart, as derivative. According to Tuck, the original
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argument was developed by Hugo Grotius in The Rights of War and Peace (2005), and rediscovered by Hobbes in his works predating Leviathan (Tuck 1989, 22, 52, 61). For Grotius, ‘an individual in nature (that is, before transferring any rights to a civil society) was morally identical to a state, and … there were no powers possessed by a state which an individual could not possess in nature’ (Tuck 1999, 82; see also 8–9). These powers include liberty and sovereignty (Tuck 1999, 9, 84). Hobbes in his turn ‘accepted … the Grotian assimilation of individuals to sovereign states’ (Tuck 1999, 129). Tuck’s main hypothesis is that Grotius regards states as bound by a minimalist morality of self-preservation. The evidence is drawn from the 1625 Latin edition of The Rights of War and Peace where Grotius introduced the principle of limited sociability. The resultant international morality is ‘thin’ because it does not demand states to aid one another, but only to practise mutual forbearance. It is a common morality around whose core diverse moral codes have been constructed (Tuck 1989, 51). Its foundation is the right of self-preservation, understood as a moral principle (Tuck 1989, 51). It is predicated on the notion of blamelessness, in the sense that every agent has a natural desire to live that should not be treated as blameworthy. This corresponds to Hobbes’s definition of a right of nature from The Elements , as ‘blameless liberty’ (E I.14.6; Tuck 1989, 60). Like Malcolm, Tuck sees this common morality of mutual forbearance as prudential at base. Both associate prudence with the moral point of view rather than with narrow self-interest (Malcolm 2002, 444; Tuck 1999, 133). Tuck however derives this morality from the right of nature. The law of nature is secondary because the basic right to preserve oneself is balanced by a duty—or law—to abstain from harming other individuals (Tuck 1989, 51). This prioritisation of rights over law is an attempt to recover the subjectivist underpinnings of Hobbes‘s moral theory. Tuck’s proposal to align Hobbes with Grotius has been criticised (Zagorin 2000), but its advantage is that it articulates an autonomous morality of states which is not just a summation of contingent ever-shifting interests, but a shared normative framework of good international conduct that has the potential to bind all states. In summary, the main contribution of normativism is that it exposes the incoherence of crude forms of realism that associate Hobbes’s view of international relations with a sphere of interaction purged of any normative constraints. But given the disagreement between various normativists,
it is not feasible to identify a clear ‘normativist’ model for Hobbes’s international state of nature. What this shows is that even though models are important for ordering our concepts, they do not exhaust their content. This is also a reminder that Hobbes’s arguments concerning international relations are complex: As such they can fit many models at once, and even then, only imperfectly.
A Global State Model
A final problem to consider in this chapter is the second basic model entailed by Hobbes‘s domestic political theory: The idea of a global state, alternatively termed ‘world state’ or ‘super state’. The idea does not seem to have occurred to Hobbes (Bull 1981, 726). A curious omission, considering that on Hobbes’s premises law and order can exist only inside a state. But perhaps this omission tells us something about the peculiarities of a global legal order, a topic pursued in Chapters 7 and 8. In light of the preceding discussion, the likely reason why Hobbes did not recommend a world state may simply be that the international anarchy is a relatively tolerable condition for states. In Sect. 6.1 above we noted that states differ from humans in important aspects, two of which should be reiterated here. One is agent equality. For Hobbes, even the weakest human being can kill the strongest by ‘secret machination’ or ‘by confederacy with others’ (L XIII, 183 ). Equal physical vulnerability gives rise to fear of death and insecurity that can be overcome by entering the lawful condition of the civil state. Such equality is absent from the international sphere since some states are much more powerful than others. Their relative superiority deters prospective attacks by smaller powers—as a result, the relations of states are not burdened by the acute existential uncertainty typical of the anarchical relations among human beings. It has been argued that the advent of nuclear weapons has restored the equality between states. The first strike nuclear capability means that all states, be they giants or dwarfs, have become equally vulnerable to obliteration (Gauthier 1969, 207–208). Nuclear destruction, rather than bringing about partial damages, can extinguish the entire system of sovereignty of a state and cause its death (Gauthier 1969, 207). An objection to this line of reasoning is that it assumes a universal nuclear proliferation, also known as a ‘unit veto system’, which does not currently exist (Beitz 1979, 41; Bull 1981, 735). Moreover, even if such a system were to materialise
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each individual state would have to possess nuclear stockpiles that are sufficiently large and are efficient in terms of deliverability in order to pose a credible nuclear threat (Heller 1980, 26). Finally, the argument from nuclear equality ignores the defensive, second strike capability of advanced nuclear powers (Beitz 1979, 41). On this view, the asymmetry between great powers and smaller ones extends to the nuclear front. A second differentia concerns the criterion of mortality. Unlike a human being, a state counts as dead not when its physical body but rather when its ‘soul’ or sovereignty (L XXI, 272 ) has been destroyed (DC 6.19; L, Introduction, 81 ; Gauthier 1969, 207; Heller 1980, 26; Jaede 2018, 25, n. 43). It follows that ‘death has been a relatively rare event in the world of sovereign powers’ (Gauthier 1969, 207; cf. Heller 1980, 27). An additional consideration is that due to the relatively small number of players in the international system, interstate conflict would be relatively rare (Kavka 1983). Taken together, these factors show that states need not be worry about relative security or fear of death and thus that they lack a motive for instituting a global commonwealth above themselves. A related problem is that Hobbes’s theory of the social contract rests on a premise of universal motivation. All agents must decide to leave the state of nature at once and they must be driven by the same motive such as fear of death or mutual frustration. But in the international sphere as we know it, the great powers are differently situated than the rest of the players. This has several implications. For a start, the smaller states, or the majority of players in the international system, would not lay down their arms in order to institute a common global state unless the large actors did so as well: This act of laying down arms must be ‘universal and simultaneous’ (Heller 1980, 27). But this is unlikely to happen, since the great powers are robust actors that have no incentive to yield their sovereignty to a superior. Instead, they would prefer to manage their relations via contracts and alliances (Warrender 1957, 119). Third, it is not impossible to imagine that a group of super powers, say China, the US and Russia who currently hold permanent seats on the United Nation’s Security Council, would form a condominium that approximates the workings of a world state (Weiler 1989, 110). It is likely that in such a situation the smaller powers would be asked to sacrifice themselves—for example in the case of Israel, to give up their quest for statehood—for the sake of world order and stability, a demand that would be irrational under Hobbes’s premise of selfpreservation (Weiler 1989, 108–109). Besides, it is questionable whether
a great power condominium of this kind would be more efficient or just than the present anarchical arrangement. It seems that states would prefer the present international anarchy over a global state. Moreover, a recurrent theme in the preceding pages has been that even when states find themselves in a condition of anarchy, where war is an ever present possibility, they do not harm the security or wellbeing of their citizens. On the contrary, international war can boost the economy and consolidate national morale (Grover 1989, 88). Nevertheless, a case can be made that human beings may benefit by living in a globally extended political association with coercive prerogatives. Some IR theorists have argued that a global state could improve the human condition because it could deal more efficiently with current transborder problems such as nuclear terrorism, global crime, or pollution. The hazard would be that a state of this kind may turn out to be an oppressive institution. One concern is that, historically, the civil state had often been created by brutal means and that, in the global case, the atrocities may be far greater (Walzer 1980, 228). A state which erases national boundaries would no longer protect the communal values and different ways of life that can only flourish in relatively closed political communities (Walzer 2004, 176). As Immanuel Kant famously warned us, in the absence of alternative political structures where people and groups can find refuge, a global state can become a ‘soulless despotism’ (PP VII: 367, Kant 1991, 113).6 A final point to consider is that Hobbes articulates two features of the state as an institution, which logically cannot be met by a global state. In his political theory he assumed that the state is sovereign in a twofold sense: It is a supreme authority internally, and it is an independent entity externally. By definition, the Hobbesian state is an independent juridical unit that knows no higher law other than its own. A global state can be instituted either by individual states relinquishing their sovereignty to a common authority, or by human beings around the world entering into a common political covenant that imposes a lawful condition on all of them. The first is the idea of a state made of states, the second, of a community of humankind. But since for Hobbes state sovereignty is indivisible (L XVIII, 237 ), it cannot be shared between the super state and its constituent units, domestic states (Heller 1980, 28–29). This avenue of global state building is closed. The second option is that human beings will institute a state that includes everyone everywhere. This state would not only be global by default, but it would also have no outer boundaries. This scenario, even if it could be
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practically implemented, clashes with Hobbes’s image of the state as a realm that has an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’. The sovereign is obligated to protect the people from both internal and external threats, and the fact of external threats is important reason for having a state (Bull 1981, 726). Moreover, even projects for universal disarmament that urge the abolition of a state’s means of external defence, its standing army, would leave its internal police forces intact. Because the police forces of different states would vary in numbers and preparedness, they would become a factor in the security competition between states (Bull 1981, 727–728). The internal/external distinction would be reinstated. In this connection, interpreters like Forsyth emphasised the importance of social groups in Hobbes’s political philosophy by showing that cultivating an identity as a group member implies out-group anxieties and rivalries. The idea of a global polity is dissatisfactory as it assumes away such processes of identity formation.
The conclusion that emerges from the debates surveyed above is that realism holds no monopoly over Hobbes’s concept of international anarchy. Hobbes seems to have thought that a condition of anarchy where a multitude of states co-exist, even though precarious, captures the idea that different peoples and different states are free to pursue diverse, often incompatible goals. This fact of value pluralism is a sombre reminder that institutional blueprints based on the idea of universality such as global state might be more dangerous than accepting the risks associated with a world of international plurality. In this chapter the focus has been on anarchy, in the next one we return to the problem of authority. We shall examine the problem of international authority and international institutions that exits under conditions of international anarchy by developing a Hobbesian theory of international relations that integrates the thinking of Hobbes and Kant.
Notes 1. In this chapter the following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; Leviathan, edited
2. 3. 4. 5.
by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC ’. References to The Elements are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. In Leviathan, Hobbes does not use the term ‘unnecessary wars’ but rather cautions sovereigns against aggressive wars of conquest (L 29, 375 ). See note 1 on the editions of Hobbes’s works. As Heller (1980) has noted, Hobbes does not appeal to right reason when deriving the right of nature in Leviathan. We cannot clearly see this, Malcolm contends, because Hobbes is ‘running together’ the moral and jural conceptions of natural rights (2002, 447). This argument is not persuasive, since Hobbes regards these conceptions as parallel, corresponding to two views of the state of nature—as a moral, or as a jural vacuum. On the moral conception, the right of nature is a natural liberty used to preserve one’s life. This right exists in the state of nature as a domain unstructured by common moral rules. On the jural conception, the right of nature is a liberty not yet restricted by the civil laws of the state. The state of nature here lacks one special class of rules, civil laws. These two conceptions of natural rights are independent and cannot really clash. I have used the Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings (Kant 1991). In addition, references to the Prussian Academy edition of Kant’s works are provided where Perpetual Peace, abbreviated as ‘PP ’, is volume VIII.
Bibliography Abizadeh, Arash. 2011. Hobbes on the Causes of War: A Disagreement Theory. American Political Science Review 105 (2): 298–315. Airaksinen, Timo, and Martin A. Bertman (eds.). 1989. Hobbes: War Among Nations. Aldershot: Avebury. Armitage, David. 2006. Hobbes and the Foundations of Modern International Thought. In Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought, ed. Annabel Brett and James Tully, 219–235. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Beitz, Charles. 1979. Political Theory and International Relations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Boucher, David. 1990. Inter-Community and International Relations in the Political Philosophy of Hobbes. Polity 23 (2): 207–232. Boucher, David. 2018. Appropriating Hobbes: Legacies in Political, Legal and International Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Bull, Hedley. 1966. Society and Anarchy in International Relations. In Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics, ed. Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, 35–50. London: Allen and Unwin. Bull, Hedley. 1981. Hobbes and the International Anarchy. Social Research 48 (4): 717–738. Bull, Hedley. 2002. The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, 3rd ed. Houndmills: Palgrave. Cohen, Marshall. 1984. Moral Skepticism and International Relations. Philosophy & Public Affairs 13 (4): 299–346. Forsyth, Murray. 1979. Thomas Hobbes and the External Relations of States. British Journal of Inter-National Studies 5 (3): 196–209. Gauthier, David. 1969. The Logic of Leviathan: The Moral and Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Gert, Bernard. 1967. Hobbes and Psychological Egoism. Journal of the History of Ideas 28 (4): 503–520. Grover, Robinson A. 1989. Hobbes and the Concept of International Law. In Hobbes: War Among Nations, ed. Timo Airaksinen and Martin A. Bertman, 79–90. Aldershot: Avebury. Grotius, Hugo. 2005. The Rights of War and Peace, 3 vols., ed. R. Tuck. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (Originally published in 1631). Guzzini, Stefano. 1998. Realism in International Relations and International Political Economy: The Continuing Story of a Death Foretold. London: Routledge. Hampton, Jean. 1986. Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hardin, Russell. 2002. Trust and Trustworthiness. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Heller, Mark A. 1980. The Use and Abuse of Hobbes: The State of Nature in International Relations. Polity 13: 21–32. Hobbes, Thomas. 1949. De Cive or the Citizen, ed. Sterling P. Lamprecht. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd edn., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Hoffmann, Stanley. 1981. Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Hohfeld, W.N. 1919. Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jaede, Maximillian. 2018. Thomas Hobbes’s Conception of Peace. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Kant, Immanuel. 1991. Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. In Political Writings, 2nd edn., trans. H.B. Nisbet and ed. Hans Reiss, 93–130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1795). Kavka, Gregory S. 1983. Hobbes’s War of All against All. Ethics 93 (2): 291–310. Kavka, Gregory S. 1986. Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Krasner, S.D. (ed.). 1983. International Regimes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Lott, Tommy L. 1989. Hobbes on International Relations. In Hobbes: War Among Nations, ed. Timo Airaksinen and Martin A. Bertman, 91–98. Aldershot: Avebury. Machiavelli, Niccolo. 2003. The Prince. London: Penguin. Malcolm, Noel. 2002. Hobbes’s Theory of International Relations. In Aspects of Hobbes, ed. Noel Malcolm, 432–456. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McNeilly, F.S. 1966. Egoism in Hobbes. The Philosophical Quarterly 16 (64): 193–206. McNeilly, F.S. 1968. The Anatomy of Leviathan. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Mearsheimer, John J. 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W. W. Norton. Mearsheimer, John J. 2006a. Interview with John Mearsheimer, Part I. International Relations 20 (1): 105–123. Mearsheimer, John J. 2006b. Interview with John Mearsheimer, Part II. International Relations 20 (2): 231–243. Morgenthau, Hans. 1948. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Newey, Glen. 2011. Leviathan and Liberal Moralism in International Theory. In International Political Theory After Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation, ed. Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Slomp, 56–77. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975a. Introduction to Leviathan. In Hobbes on Civil Association, 1–79. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Oakeshott, Michael. 1975b. The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes. In Hobbes on Civil Association, 80–140. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Ripstein, Arhur. 1989. Hobbes on World Government and the World Cup. In Hobbes: War Among Nations, ed. Timo Airaksinen and Martin A. Bertman, 112–129. Aldershot: Avebury. Schmidt, B.C. 1998. The Political Discourse of Anarchy: A Disciplinary History of International Relations. Albany: State University of New York Press. Smith, Michael Joseph. 1987. Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. Thucydides. 1954. History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner. London: Penguin.
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Tuck, Richard. 1989. Hobbes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tuck, Richard. 1999. The Rights of War and Peace: Political Thought and the International Order from Grotius to Kant. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vanderschraaf, Peter. 2019. The Character and Significance of the State of Nature. In Interpreting Hobbes’s Political Philosophy, ed. S.A. Lloyd, 191–205. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vasquez, John A. 1998. The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Waltz, Kenneth N. 1979. Theory of International Politics. Boston, MA: McGrawHill. Walzer, Michael. 1980. The Moral Standing of States: A Response to Four Critics. Philosophy & Public Affairs 9 (3): 209–229. Walzer, Michael. 1992. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books. Walzer, Michael. 2004. Governing the Globe. In Arguing About War, ed. M. Walzer, 171–191. New Haven: Yale University Press. Warrender, Howard. 1957. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: His Theory of Obligation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Weiler, Gershon. 1989. Force and Fraud. In Hobbes: War Among Nations, ed. Timo Airaksinen and Martin A. Bertman, 99–111. Aldershot: Avebury. Wight, Martin. 1966. Why Is There No International Theory? In Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics, ed. Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, 17–34. London: George Allen & Unwin. Wight, Martin. 1978. Power Politics, 2nd ed., ed. H. Bull and C. Holbraad. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Wight, Martin. 1991. International Theory: The Three Traditions, ed. Gabriele Wight and Brian Porter. Leicester: Continuum. Williams, Michael. 1996. Hobbes and International Relations: A Reconsideration. International Organization 50 (2): 213–236. Willms, Bernard. 1989. World-State or State World: Thomas Hobbes and the Law of Nations. In Hobbes: War Among Nations, ed. Timo Airaksinen and Martin A. Bertman, 130–141. Aldershot: Avebury. Zagorin, Perez. 2000. Hobbes Without Grotius. History of Political Thought 21 (1): 16–40.
Hobbesian Internationalism: Hobbes Meets Kant
The previous chapter was devoted to the problem of Hobbesian international anarchy, whereas the present one examines the question of international authority. In light of Hobbes’s scant remarks on both problems, the strategy once again is to proceed via philosophical reconstruction. In what follows, a case is made for an international authority that exists within anarchy: This constitutes a third Hobbesian model that is distinct from the world state and the pure anarchy (‘realist’) model outlined in Chapter 6. My thesis is that Kant’s views of an international authority, expressed in his project for a peaceful league of free states, are the closest logical extension of Hobbes’s theory of the domestic state to the sphere of international relations. What brings Hobbes and Kant together is the idea of freedom and the state as a freedom enabling framework developed in their legal and political philosophies. Both construe the state as a supreme legal authority with coercive prerogatives whose task is to secure the pre-political rights and freedoms of its subjects and to endow them with a novel order of freedoms and rights which they acquire as citizens. But while Hobbes is predominantly a theorist of the state, Kant connects civil right (his term for the juridical realm of the state) to international and cosmopolitan right. Kant hesitates between the option that international right can be realised via a super state, or via a foedus pacificum. (The term ‘foedus’ is misleading since in his late writings, The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) and Perpetual Peace (1795) Kant does not mean by it a coercive federation but a loose confederation—a ‘congress’ or ‘league’ of free states or ‘republics’.)1 Although the © The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_7
latter option is more coherent, it will be shown that it generates conceptual tensions which can be alleviated by reintroducing Hobbes’s doctrine of covenants of mutual trust that bind sovereigns. The challenge is to understand how, if at all, it would be possible to move from the notion of a Hobbesian state to an international order made of such states. The question concerns not just any order, but a normative order, an authority that imposes common normative constraints (standards, obligations) on the participating states. The thrust of my argument is that Kant’s foedus pacificum best reflects the idea of a Hobbesian international authority. Two broad considerations support this reading. The first is that Kant espouses Hobbes’s juridical view of the state as a realm that creates, interprets, and enforces the law. Law is not just a mechanism for social coordination or control: It creates the conditions for realising freedom and rights. This Hobbesian conception of law corresponds to what Kant calls ‘right’. For Kant, the project of realising right would be incomplete until it encompasses all parts of the world (PP VIII: 360; Kant 1991a, 107–108). Thus civil, international, and cosmopolitan right are interlinked (MM VI: 311; PP VIII: 349n, Kant 1991a, 98–99). Relevant to our purposes is the relation between civil right, pertaining to Kant’s theory of the state, and international right, which comprises his theory of international relations. Kant sees the domestic and international realms as connected not just in the empirical sense that what happens inside a given state produces effects in the international sphere, but in the normative sense, by positing an international authority whose agents are artificial persons, states, who maintain relations with one another that differ in principle from those that pertain between natural persons. Notice that right is an abstract principle and that, in addition, we would need information about concrete institutions that can actualise this principle. The institutional embodiment of Kant’s principle of international right is the peaceful congress of states. The second consideration for conjoining Hobbes’s and Kant’s positions is conditional. It is warranted only on a particular interpretation of the Kantian congress of states: as a ‘thin’ normative order that incorporates Hobbes’s postulates of anarchy and authority. The resultant image of an international authority that persists within the international state of nature is a basic premise of what I have termed Hobbesian internationalism, and it completes the argument about anarchy and authority presented in this book. Hobbesian internationalism is a Kantian theory of international relations superimposed on the fundament of Hobbes’s political philosophy.
HOBBESIAN INTERNATIONALISM: HOBBES MEETS KANT
The proposed synthesis begins with Hobbes’s conception of the juridical state, transforms it into an argument for an international authority animated by Kant’s principle of international right, and complements it with Hobbes’s conception of covenants of mutual trust. States bound by the norms of this form of international authority respect the principle of international right (the Kantian part of the story), but, are also prepared to honour their mutual promises (covenants) under conditions where no global sovereign is available to provide assurance that promises will be kept (the Hobbesian part of the story). Before we proceed, a note on the selection of textual sources is in order. Hobbes satisfied himself with making sporadic remarks on international relations, whereas Kant gave the problem more attention. Still, Kant’s writings on international right are rather sketchy compared to his meticulously developed argument for civil right. International relations scholars (see Doyle 1983a, 1983b; Hurrell 1990) have understandably focussed on Kant’s Perpetual Peace where Kant spells out his view of international institutions including the pacific league of free states that promises to abolish war. Kant’s account of international institutions is ultimately grounded in his philosophical defence of the principle of civil right and the state as expounded in The Metaphysics of Morals , which is the primary text used in the current exposition.
Hobbes and Kant on Freedom and Rights in the State of Nature
The starting premise of my analysis is that in order to understand the problem of international authority by following Hobbes and Kant, they have to be read as philosophers of freedom rather than as philosophers of war and peace. That Kant’s philosophy is illuminated by the idea of freedom is hardly a controversial point: This idea permeates his metaphysics, where it generates the antimony with the natural law of causality (CPR A444/B472), his moral philosophy, where it informs the concept of autonomous law-giving by a rational person (G IV: 431–432, 440), and his legal and political philosophy that will be the focus of this chapter.2 It is conventional to assume that Hobbes and Kant diverge at the plane of moral theory because one equates morality to prudence, while the other, to a deontology of rules (or laws). But Hobbes’s and Kant’s theories of law and politics are remarkably similar. They commence with the principle that the state, as a system of law, provides the conditions for free and equal individuals to pursue self-chosen
ends without undue interference by fellow beings. The regulative idea here is freedom. Since Hobbes’s position on law and the state was analysed in detail in Parts I and II, the emphasis here will be on Kant’s argument and on explicating its background Hobbesian premises concerning the state and the international authority composed of free states. The mature statement of Kant’s legal and political philosophy is contained in The Doctrine of Right . This is the first part of The Metaphysics of Morals , whose second part, The Doctrine of Virtue, covers Kant’s ethical theory. Unlike duties of virtue, duties of right can be coercively enforced by law (MM VI: 239) and thus by the state as a coercive juridical authority.3 Law for Kant regulates the external relation between agents, that is to say, their externally manifest actions to be distinguished from their inner thoughts, intentions, or wishes (MM VI: 214, 230). By ‘coercion’ Kant understands hindrance to external freedom (‘choice’) caused by the choice of another agent (MM VI: 231). Coercing someone is not the same as imposing a sanction on him or her and does not involve Kant’s retributive theory of punishment (Ripstein 2004, 7). It is particularly important to distinguish ‘right’ from a ‘a right’/‘rights’. In Kant’s terminology, ‘right’ may stand for an objective standard of action with a moral connotation, as in the contrast between right and wrong. But it can also denote an objective principle which coercively regulates the distribution of rights, rights being subjective entitlements of persons. Right (Recht ) in this second sense, translated imperfectly as ‘law’ or ‘justice’ in English, is key to Kant’s legal philosophy. The Doctrine of Right is divided into an Introduction and two sections on private and on public right. In the Introduction Kant outlines the innate right to freedom. Private right is a form of acquired right and includes rights to property, contract, and status (family, parental, or employer relations). The system of public right has three parts: civil right which regulates the rights of citizens inside the state, international right concerning the rights of states, and cosmopolitan right that covers the rights of citizens across state borders (MM VI: 311). Hobbes and Kant write in the tradition of social contract theory, assuming a logical sequence of three conditions: state of nature, social contract, civil state. It is appropriate to begin with the state of nature. For Hobbes this concept, in its generic meaning, denotes a realm of interaction bereft of rules (see Part II). Kant defines it as a condition of ‘lawlessness’ purged from legal rules (laws). He argues that individuals may maintain social relations and enjoy rights even in the state of nature (MM VI: 242), but that
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such rights are defective because they are not legally determined and hence merely ‘provisional’ (MM VI: 262). In a Hobbesian manner, Kant begins by positing a single, original right in the state of nature. He calls it an ‘innate right to freedom’ to indicate that human beings possess it in virtue of their humanity. He defines it as ‘freedom (independence from being constrained by another’s choice), insofar as it can coexist with the freedom of every other in accordance with a universal law’ (MM VI: 237). This right constitutes a freedom of external choice or freedom to act in the external world independently of the arbitrary choice of any other individual. It resembles Hobbes’s concept of a right of nature from Leviathan which rests on the notion of freedom as absence of external impediments to motion (L XXI, 261 ).4 Three points of convergence between Hobbes and Kant are notable. First, both philosophers are concerned with the problem of freedom rather than fairness or social utility. Second, Kant shares Hobbes’s view that freedom consists in the external use of choice and thus is subject to external constraints where externality is a feature of actions (Hobbes’s foro externo) as opposed to intentions or wishes (Hobbes’s foro interno). Third, like Hobbes, Kant portrays agents in the state of nature as units confined to a finite domain where they cannot avoid contact with one another. For Kant, this coincides with the spherical surface of the Earth (MM VI: 262; Flikschuh 2010, 475; Ripstein 2009, 12). The idea of a finite interaction domain was part of Hobbes’s structural model of the state of nature discussed in Chapter 5. There are a number of differences between Hobbes and Kant nonetheless. To begin with, Kant relies on a strictly interpersonal notion of external constraint so that the agent’s freedom of choice can be impeded by another’s choice but not by physical obstacles (MM VI: 231, 237). For Hobbes, the typical impediments to free action have a physical nature, as when an individual is involuntarily restrained by locks or chains. Further, Hobbes regards the right of nature as a physical capacity or power to act insofar as one is not blocked by physical objects or actions including the bodily movements of other agents. In contrast, Kant works with a normative notion of rights, claiming that to hold a right is to put another person under an obligation (MM VI: 239). Finally, Hobbes and Kant both have a conception of an original, pre-institutional right. Hobbes supposes that this right (the right of nature) is tied to certain basic human interests, namely, self-preservation. Kant, conversely, treats the innate right to freedom as an abstract precondition for any further interest that a human rational agent
might have such as the appropriation of external objects or entering into contractual and status relations. The last point reflects Kant’s a priori conception of freedom. Kant contrasts the metaphysical notion of freedom of the will as independent from sensible impulses (the causality of nature) with the practical notion of freedom as ‘pure practical reason’ which makes possible our practical choices (CPR A 553–554/B 581–582; MM VI: 213–214; Flikschuh 2000, 50– 79, esp. 50–54). The freedom of the will cannot be proven; rather it must be presupposed, so that every rational being would have a conception of oneself as a self-determining agent that can shape the world through one’s agency (CPR A 802–803/B 830–831, G 4: 448–449). A thread running through Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is the differentia between the realm of freedom where the will is free, and the realm of nature where action is necessitated by causal laws. It may be recalled that Hobbes is a compatibilist for whom human actions are simultaneously caused and free in the sense that they are determined by natural causes external to the agent, but also by desires qua internal causes (L VI, 127–128 [28–29]; Raphael 2004, 27, 66). For Hobbes the will is desire, so the will cannot be free (or independent from desire), even though the agent as a whole might be free in acting upon one’s own desires. Analogously to Hobbes’s right of nature, Kant’s innate right is a basket of rights (MM VI: 237–238). At its core lies the idea of a person’s entitlement in one’s own person (Ripstein 2009, 19).5 This involves a right to bodily integrity and a right to use one’s natural capacities as one sees fit, provided that this does not infringe the equal freedoms of others. One component of innate right is the idea of ‘being beyond reproach’ suggesting that until proven guilty one should enjoy a presumption of innocence. Another component is ‘innate equality’ meaning that other agents can bind one to no greater extent that one can bind them. This entails the idea of ‘being one’s own master’ which implies that one should not permit onself to be used as a mere means for the purposes of others (Guyer 2006, 267; Ripstein 2009, 17–18, 30–56; Wood 2005, 173–174). The injunction that rational agents have value as ends in themselves and not just as a means is Kant’s formula of humanity (G 4: 429). Humanity is understood as purposiveness or a capacity to freely determine the use of one’s abilities and means (Ripstein 2009, 41; cf. Guyer 2006, 263). Because the formula of humanity is a version of the Categorical Imperative, the centrepiece of Kant’s moral theory in the Groundwork, the problem is whether Kant’s juridical doctrine of right is derived from Kant’ moral theory. My reading supports
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those interpreters who hold that morality and law remain separate spheres for Kant (MM VI: 214, 232, 239; Flikschuh 2000, 3; Guyer 2006, 262; Nardin 2017, 364; Ripstein 2004, 6; 2009, 11–13; Wood 2005, 172–173; cf. Guyer 2002, 25–26). On this ‘separation’ thesis, the domain of right comprises only that segment of morality that it would be proper to enforce via law. Kant defines right as ‘the sum of conditions under which the choice of one can be united with the choice of another in accordance with a universal law of freedom’ (MM VI: 230). But since choice relates to action, the concept of right entails a principle of right that must align the actions of a plurality of individuals. ‘Any action is right if it can coexist with everyone’s freedom in accordance with a universal law’ (MM VI: 230, original emphasis). This is a universal principle of reciprocal limitations on freedom that binds everyone. Its ‘subjectivised’ counterpart is the innate right to freedom (Ripstein 2009, 35). Implicit in the principle of right is the authorisation to use coercion in order to protect freedom (MM VI: 232). Recall that Kant conceptualises coercion as a hindrance to freedom. But if one agent is wrongly coercing another, the victim or a third party must be permitted to use coercion against the wrongdoer. Acting so as to ‘hinder a hindrance to freedom’ is not morally wrong, concludes Kant (MM VI: 231). The principle of right protects the freedom of choice of all agents—as a matter of universal law—and demands external juridical coercion. To ensure that it accords with right, external juridical coercion should not express the arbitrary will of any private party; it must issue from a non-arbitrary, omnilateral public will. Kant’s point is that the rights of individuals cannot be protected in the state of nature but only inside the public realm of the state, construed as a ‘rightful condition’ (MM VI: 307). A rightful condition is a relation between human agents ‘that contains the conditions under which alone everyone is able to enjoy his rights, and the formal condition under which this is possible in accordance with the idea of a will giving laws for everyone is called public justice’ (MM VI: 306, original emphasis). The solution, in short, is to exit the uncertain realm of provisional rights and to enter that of public right, epitomised by the omnilateral will of the state (see also MM VI: 255–256).
Kant: The Necessity of Leaving the State of Nature
Once we turn to consider how Kant explains the transition from the state of nature to a civil state, Hobbes’s influence can hardly be missed. Kant follows Hobbes in assuming that agents with unrestrained original freedom who live in close proximity find themselves in a condition of lawlessness and uncertainty (state of nature). Individuals so situated have two options: either to remain in this condition or to institute a rightful condition (a civil state). This argument is essentially Hobbesian. Kant also adopts Hobbes’s conception of the state as a public system of law—or system of right in Kant’s terms—whose raison d’être is to secure rights: original and institutionally established rights. But Kant recommends an ideal for a state, a ‘republic’, inside which the distribution of freedom responds to rule-of-law criteria, a conception that is nascent if not altogether absent from Hobbes’s philosophy. And unlike Hobbes, Kant justifies the state metaphysically, a point elaborated below. In The Metaphysics of Morals , Kant advances three arguments to explain why agents ought to leave the state of nature. The first occurs at the end of the section on private right. There is no assurance, Kant writes, that in the state of nature one’s rights will not be encroached upon by another private party. Even in the absence of actual hostility, the agent is ‘authorized to use coercion against someone who already, by his nature, threatens him with coercion’ (MM VI: 307). The problem is not that particular transactions between private parties may be wrongful, but that the mere willingness to remain in the state of nature constitutes ‘wrong in the highest degree’ because this condition is ‘not rightful, that is, [one] in which no one is assured of what is his against violence’ (MM VI: 307). At §44 of the section on public right, Kant explains the reason for this. Before a public lawful condition is established individual human beings, peoples and states can never be secure against violence from one another, since each has its own right to do what seems right and good to it and not to be dependent upon another’s opinion about this. (MM VI: 312, original emphasis)
This echoes Hobbes’s subjectivist view that the right of nature permits one to pursue what one believes to be good rather than what is good (L VI, 120 ).
HOBBESIAN INTERNATIONALISM: HOBBES MEETS KANT
Second, Kant replicates Hobbes’s description of the state of nature as a condition where private judgement prevails: So, unless it wants to renounce any concepts of right, the first thing it has to resolve upon is the principle that it must leave the state of nature, in which each follows its own judgement, unite itself with all others (with which it cannot avoid interacting), subject itself to a public lawful external coercion, and so enter into a condition in which what is to be recognized as belonging to it is determined by law and is allotted to it by adequate power (not its own but an external power). (MM VI: 312, original emphasis)
Later in the same paragraph Kant maintains that the state of nature is ‘devoid of justice’ not because assurance against violence is lacking but because in the absence of an impartial judge no dispute over rights would be settled in a rightful manner. Kant’s third concern is that without the framework of public law, private rights remain provisional rather than conclusive—that is, neither determined, nor enforceable (MM VI: 257, 312). Out of the three defects that Kant attributes to human relations outside a state—uncertainty linked to violence, the tyranny of private judgement, and the fact that rights are not conclusively established—the last one seems decisive in justifying the Kantian state. Kant concludes that each agent has a moral duty to exit the natural condition and to enter a rightful condition or a state because only in this way provisional rights would be guaranteed by an impartial, public authority. He treats this as an analytical truth that can be derived from the concept of ‘right in external relations’ (MM VI: 307). It is curious to see to what extent Kant’s position, if we strip it from its metaphysical foundation for a moment, is compatible with Hobbes’s. In Part II we distinguished three different models of a Hobbesian state of nature, each having its corresponding image of the civil state. If the state of nature is permeated by uncertainty, and particularly if uncertainty is linked to fear of death, then the state would be seen as a security provider. But uncertainty can also be taken to denote epistemological uncertainty arising from the absence of shared and known standards inside an interaction domain, and this in turn may be relevant to the uncertain status of possessions and rights that Kant has in mind. If the state of nature is a race for precedence, as Hobbes suggested in The Elements (E I.9.21), then the state would only have to ensure that the means deployed by competitors in the race are legitimate and nonviolent. Finally, Hobbes’s ‘infelicity’ model of free and equal agents who
interact inside a spatially enclosed realm, thereby frustrating each other’s free pursuit of ends, requires a state that would space out their interactions by supplying public laws. This reflects Hobbes’s view of civil laws as ‘hedges’, expressed in Chap. XXX of Leviathan, whose task is to constrain the means people use in pursuing ends so that they can get along without injuring one another. This identifies a continuity between Hobbes and Kant that is seldom discussed: their relational view of the state of nature. The problems associated with the natural condition do not arise because solitary beings face certain external constraints (such as scarcity), but because individuals maintain certain relations with one another (TP VIII: 289; PP VIII: 354, Kant 1991a, 102; PP VIII: 358, Kant 1991a; 106; MM VI: 307, 312, 343, 352; Ripstein 2009, 15–16). This is not a trivial premise: Social contract theorists like Rousseau regard the original state of nature as a state of mutual isolation (Tuck 1999, 199). On Kant’s and Hobbes’s relational view, the unconstrained interaction among free and equal individuals leads either to physical harm, or more problematically still, to the infringement of rights, even though hardly any agent consciously intends such an outcome. This is the structuralist logic of Hobbes’s ‘infelicity’ model discussed in Chapter 5, and of Kant’s pronouncement that the state of nature is principally devoid of justice (MM VI: 312). Unlike Hobbes, however, Kant insists that this claim can be derived a priori, from the concepts involved, and without incorporating anthropological or empirical premises about human nature or human motivation. Even ‘well-disposed’ and ‘law-abiding’ people commit a wrong by remaining in the state of nature (MM VI: 312). But Kant forgets that any argument about the phenomenal world that begins with purely abstract premises would remain incomplete unless certain parametric premises are added to it. Actually Kant’s abstract notion of a bounded, finite space has its counterpart in the parametric idea of a spherical Earth (MM VI: 262, 352) found in his analysis of international and cosmopolitan right (MM 6: 311; PP VIII: 358, Kant 1991a, 106). Similarly, the innate right to freedom as an a priori postulate is tied to Kant’s notion of humanity (purposiveness) which is substantive. Hobbes, in contrast, develops his structuralist ‘infelicity’ model without losing sight of background substantive premises. This model prioritises freedom and equality as abstract properties of the interacting agents and brackets, without eliminating, their substantive properties such as fear of death, self-preservation, or acquisitiveness. Likewise, the abstract description of the environment where the
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agents interact, as bounded, finite domain, points to the parametric idea of proximity.
The State as a Public Coercive Authority
As might be expected, Kant embraces a metaphysical conception of the state. It is based on the ‘idea of an original contract’ (social contract), understood as an act by which a people constitutes itself as a state (TP VIII: 289, 295; PP VIII: 350, Kant 1991a, 100; MM VI: 315). The original contract is not an actual institutional mechanism, but an idea of reason. Following Rousseau, Kant associates it with the notion of the ‘united general will’ of the people. Because this will is idealised it demands any actual legislator to produce laws to which the people would have freely consented (TP VIII: 297; MM VI: 340). In plain language, the original contract is a normative ideal of a state that actual sovereigns should strive to approximate in practice (MM VI: 313). The original contract concerns the constitution of a state. Kant’s term ‘constitution’ has two senses, the basic one designating a normative relation between citizens and state. Here the rights of the citizens are decisive, and they must accord with a triad of normative criteria: lawful freedom (where each individual is free to pursue ends without infringing the like freedom of others, consistent with a universal law), civil equality under the law, and civil independence (TP VIII: 290–295; PP VIII: 349–350n, Kant 1991a, 99–100n; see also MM VI: 314–315). The notion of civil independence implies that certain citizens (with independent means to sustain themselves without reliance on others) are active citizens who can determine the laws of the polity, by voting (TP VIII: 294–295; MM VI: 314–315). The second sense of constitution refers to the state’s institutional structure. The Kantian state is a unity of three abstract ‘persons’ or powers: legislative, executive, and judicial (MM VI: 313). These must be differentiated from the actual persons or offices vested with such abstract powers. Sovereign power is held by the supreme lawgiver (the legislator), executive power belongs to the ruler (the executive), and judicial power, to the publicly appointed judge. It has been noted that Kant has not carefully thought out the distinction between abstract powers and concrete persons (Westphal 1993). Such tensions are exemplified in his concept of sovereignty. Kant maintains that, in idea, the sovereign is the united general will of the people (MM VI: 313–314), but he also distinguishes the sovereign from
the people (MM VI: 320). If sovereignty has popular roots, then the people must have a right to revolution against the actual holder of sovereign power. But Kant repudiates this right on grounds of logical contradiction. In Theory and Practice he contends that a conflict between the supreme legislator and the people would require a judge to settle it, which entails an infinite regress of judges (TP VIII: 300). A dispute between the executive and the people would in turn be contradictory since, as a holder of the highest coercive prerogative, the executive cannot itself be subject to coercion (TP VIII: 302; MM VI: 319). In The Metaphysics of Morals , Kant adduces a different reason as to why there can be no right to resist the legislator. It is that the people are created via the constitutive act of united legislative power and therefore by revolting against this power it would annihilate itself (MM VI: 320). The result would be a destruction of the legal constitution (TP VIII: 299, 301; MM VI: 320) and a lapse into the state of nature. Both parts of the argument, that the citizens must obey the supreme legislator, and that the destruction of supreme legislative power puts individuals back into the state of nature, are distinctively Hobbesian. This shows a development in Kant’s thought between Theory and Practice, where Kant finds fault with Hobbes for denying the citizens a moral right to free speech that allows them to publicly criticise their leaders (TP VIII: 303–304), and The Metaphysics of Morals , where Kant argues, with Hobbes, that once constituted the prerogatives of the sovereign state cannot be revoked by the subjects (MM VI: 319–320). Even though the citizens retain a right to publicly voice complaints (MM VI: 319), defective internal constitutions can be repaired by the sovereign via reform and not via popular resistance (MM VI: 321–322, 340). A fundamental ambiguity in Kant’s account of sovereignty remains however. Commentators have been divided over the issue whether he is proposing a strict separation of powers, a system of checks and balances a la Montesquieu, or a unitary state (Guyer 2006, 282; Kersting 1992, 154–157; Westphal 1993, 275; Williams 2003, 199–207; Wood 2005, 175). My reading is indebted to Wolfgang Kersting (1992, 154–157) and Kenneth Westphal (1993, 275) who propose that Kant is advocating a functional separation of powers. This makes sovereignty a property of the unitary state and not just of its legislature, and aligns Kant with Hobbes. In his post-1793 writings, Kant uses the term ‘pure republic’ as a synonym for the ideal of the social contract (MM VI: 340). Republics in this ideal sense have a juridical constitution illuminated by the norms of equality, freedom, and civil independence (MM VI: 340; PP VIII: 349–350n, Kant
HOBBESIAN INTERNATIONALISM: HOBBES MEETS KANT
1991a, 99–100n). But in an institutional sense ‘republic’ is the name of a state with a particular institutional make-up. Kant distinguishes between the form of a state (its ‘sovereignty’) and the form of its constitution (its ‘government’) (PP VIII: 352, Kant 1991a, 100–101). A state can be autocratic, aristocratic, or democratic depending on whether one, a few, or all rule, while its government can be despotic or republican (PP VIII: 352, Kant 1991a, 100–101; MM VI: 338). ‘Republicanism’, Kant writes, ‘is that political principle whereby the executive power (the government) is separated from the legislative power’ (PP VIII: 352, Kant 1991a, 101). Kant worries that a fusion of these two powers would produce despotism, as in plebiscite democracy (PP VIII: 352, Kant 1991a, 101). In summary, Kant’s defence of a pure republic or original contract corresponds to our idea of Rechtsstaat, a rule-of-law state. Its citizens are not just equal and free under the law, but equally free in determining the law— they are co-legislators partaking in the united general will. The core idioms of a Rechtsstaat are right and freedom (Kersting 1992, 154). Once again, Kant’s view of the state is not far removed from Hobbes’s. The Hobbesian state is a public realm (res publica), a framework of external lawful coercion that creates the conditions for the realisation of rights and freedoms. But while Hobbes’s political theory recognises the freedom and equality of the citizens under the law, it does not grant them a right to co-legislation. Nonetheless, as Hobbes shows in Chaps. XVI and XVII of Leviathan the state is based on a founding act of popular authorisation. Although authorisation, once given, does not impose a subsequent normative check on the law-making capacities of the sovereign, it makes the subjects responsible for their own state. This is the spirit, if not the letter, of Hobbes’s political theory, which identifies routes to resistance and reform (Sreedhar 2010) that in many ways anticipates Kant’s writings.
Towards an International Authority
At the outset of this chapter it was hypothesised that Kant’s writings on international authority reflect basic premises found in Hobbes’s domestic theory of the state. Kant helps us understand the general logic of a Hobbesian doctrine of international authority, although as we shall see, Kant’s analysis is burdened by conceptual difficulties that can be allayed by returning to Hobbes’s theory of covenants, as applied to the relations between sovereigns. The focus of the current section is on Kant’s conception of international authority. As is well-known, Kant hesitated between
two institutional forms that this authority might assume, a world state (UH VIII: 24; TP VIII: 312–313) and a loosely organised league of free states or ‘republics’ (TP VIII: 310–311; MM VI: 350; PP VIII: 357, Kant 1991a, 105). This fact has spurred scholarly controversy over what constitutes Kant’s considered position (Bohman and Lutz-Bachmann 1997; Byrd and Hruschka 2010; Cavallar 1999; Doyle 1983a, 1983b; Habermas 1997; Hurrell 1990; Höffe 2006; Kleingeld 2004, 2016; Rawls 1999, 36ff.). My interpretation differentiates Kant’s doctrine of international institutions from the principle invoked to justify it —the principle of international right (see Flikschuh 2010; Nardin 2017). This principle is satisfied only in conjunction with both civil right and cosmopolitan right (MM VI: 311), but the present discussion does not address cosmopolitan right. In Perpetual Peace, Kant begins his exposition of international right by adopting Hobbes’s premise that ab initio states, as free and equal agents, find themselves in an international state of nature. Three possibilities are available: remaining in this condition, building a super state, or joining an international institution that is not organised as a state. Kant works from a Hobbesian notion of the state of nature as a state of ‘war’ associated with fundamental uncertainty in agent relations. Peace thus cannot be a mere cessation of hostilities but requires instituting a juridical condition to stabilise agent relations and reduce uncertainty (PP VIII: 343, 349n, Kant 1991a, 93, 98n). This peace-through-law approach is common to both Hobbes and Kant. The aim of Kant’s blueprint for perpetual peace is to abolish war forever and not just particular wars in certain times and places. To this end, the relations of states will have to be governed by the principle of international right. Right is a principle of external lawful coercion grounded in freedom (MM VI: 231, 340). While any international authority based on international right must preserve and even increase the original freedom of states, Kant waivers on the question of how it should be institutionalised. In the literature it is common to distinguish Kant’s pre-1793 works, Idea for a Universal History (1784), and Theory and Practice (1793) that prioritise the project for a world state, from Perpetual Peace (1795) and The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) where a league of free states seems dominant. But this is an imperfect distinction since even in the later writings Kant appears to be undecided. It is best to briefly canvass his argument in each of these works.
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In Idea for a Universal History, Kant compares states in their external relations to human individuals living under anarchy. The same ills that compel humans to enter into a lawful civil condition—namely, the uncertainty infecting their rights and the ever present threat of violence—are said to force states to ‘go beyond a lawless condition of savages and to enter into a federation of nations’ (UH VIII: 24). This federation is state-like, having law that expresses the united will of its members as well as united power to enforce that law (UH VIII: 24). In Theory and Practice, Kant’s reasoning is similar. To be able to escape the plight of violence and to secure their rights, human beings would be compelled to enter into a civil constitution, and, analogously, incessant wars would drive states, even against their will, to adopt a cosmopolitan constitution (TP VIII: 310–311). This is ‘a cosmopolitan commonwealth under a single head’ or a world state. But Kant fears that such a state could become despotic because of its size, covering enormous stretches of territory (think of the Roman empire). As an alternative, states must enter ‘a rightful condition of a federation in accordance with a commonly agreed upon right of nations ’ (TP VIII: 311). This is a coercive federation of free states at one remove from a world state, although Kant leaves its coercive nature unspecified. There is a notable change in Kant’s position in The Metaphysics of Morals . Kant holds that the condition of natural liberty is in itself wrongful because it represents the right of the stronger (MM VI: 344). States who maintain relations with one another, neighbouring states above all, coexist in such a wrongful condition; thus, they have a moral obligation to terminate it (MM VI: 344). We would expect Kant to recommend a world state but instead he speaks of an ‘association of nations’ that should reflect the idea of an original contract and whose purposes are limited to defending its members from external threats. It represents an ‘alliance without any sovereign authority (as in a civil constitution) but only an association (federation)’ (MM VI: 345; emphasis in bold added). In essence, this is a voluntary association that may be dissolved at any time (MM VI: 345, 351). At the end of the section on international right Kant reverses his position (MM VI: 350). Rather than appealing to force and violence as he did previously, he now appeals to rights. In the state of nature all rights are provisional. To render them conclusive the principle of right must be introduced and institutionalised in the form of a civil state. Correlatively, individual states have an obligation to institute a world state: a ‘state made up of nations’. But since this kind of state would be overextended geographically and unable to protect its members, the ideal of perpetual peace through law
will remain unachievable in practice. Nevertheless, states have a duty to approximate this ideal by joining voluntary defensive associations. In Perpetual Peace, Kant is mostly interested in the institutional vehicle of international right: foedus pacificum. Its purpose is to renounce war for good (PP VIII: 356, Kant 1991a, 104). By ‘war’ Kant means both a condition that renders rights precarious, and organised interstate violence that results in large-scale destruction and death. The foedus pacificum is not just a purely voluntary association though. Kant’s premise is that states are not completely free to opt out once they have joined the confederation, since it has a founding constitution that requires commitment to certain principles and norms (PP VIII: 349n, Kant 1991a, 98). As noted previously, this constitution is a republican one (PP VIII: 350, Kant 1991a, 99). The text of Perpetual Peace lists the constitutional provisions of the peaceful league of republics. Its three ‘definitive articles’ specify the relations among republican states members of the league, and its six ‘preliminary articles’ describe their relations with non-members (Laberge 1998, 91). The definitive articles cover the three forms of public right: civil right, international right, and cosmopolitan right. They demand a republican constitution for each participant state (domestically), a league of free states (internationally), and a cosmopolitan principle of universal hospitality (globally) (PP VIII: 348–360, Kant 1991a, 98–108). The preliminary articles involve principles of trust and non-aggression that make war among nations less likely (PP VIII: 343–347, Kant 1991a, 93–97). Some of these rule out secret clauses in international treaties, the interference in the internal affairs of another state, as well as the use of assassins, spies, and poisoners; they require strict compliance. The rest of the preliminary articles are: They prohibit the transfer of territory or purchase of one state by another (after defeat in war), standing armies, and the incurring of public debt for purposes of war. By remaining in the international state of nature, states outside the Kantian pacific league constitute a potential threat for league members. But instead of sanctioning preventive war to eliminate such threats (Cavallar 1999, 126), the principle of international right permits only wars in self-defence. It does not allow preventive wars or wars of democracy promotion (Williams 2012, 113–140). In this connection, it is pertinent to mention briefly the democratic peace hypothesis. Its proponents, political scientists of liberal persuasion, urge the spread of democracy around the globe, a proposal inspired by Kant’s vision of perpetual peace (Doyle 1983a, 1983b, 1986; Brown et al. 1996). They identify an empirical law stating that democracies do not fight
HOBBESIAN INTERNATIONALISM: HOBBES MEETS KANT
each other and conclude that increasing the number of democratic states is tantamount to decreasing the likelihood of interstate war. Although this is not the place to engage the rich literature on the democratic peace (Brown et al. 1996; Doyle 1983a, 1983b, 1986; Kinsella 2005; Rosato 2003; Russett 1993), three principled objections against reading Kant as a liberal peace theorist can be identified. One is the just noted consideration that Kant allows only for wars of self-defence, and not for wars of democracy promotion. Another major obstacle is that the democratic peace hypothesis is an empirical generalisation while Kant’s philosophy of right is metaphysically grounded. Third, democracy is not the same as a Kantian republic (rule-of-law state). Kant’s apprehension of direct democracy as an instance of despotism must give us a reason to pause and reconsider the association between his ideas and theories of liberal democratic peace. Returning to Kant’s conception of foedus pacificum, we should address two questions. The first is, in what way does it differ from a world state? Kant writes that ‘a federation of this sort would not be the same thing as an international state’ (PP VIII: 354, Kant 1991a, 102). As he goes on to say: For the idea of an international state is contradictory, since every state involves a relationship between a superior (the legislator) and an inferior (the people obeying the laws), whereas a number of nations forming one state would constitute a single nation. And this contradicts our initial assumption, as we are here considering the right of nations in relation to one another in so far as they are a group of separate states which are not to be welded together as a unit. (PP VIII: 354, Kant 1991a, 102, emphasis added)
Kant defines international right as a relation between a multitude of sovereign states (PP VIII: 367, Kant 1991a, 113; Kleingeld 2004, 312), which suggests that by default a sovereign state cannot stand in a relation of subordination to a higher authority. The idea of a state made of states is incoherent because by joining an overarching state, each subordinate state would have to recognise a superior thereby obliterating its sovereignty (Flikschuh 2010, 479). This is a Hobbesian defence of sovereignty which excludes the option for a world state composed of sovereign states on logical grounds. The second question is, how can the freedom of states be rendered compatible with the coercive requirement of right? In Perpetual Peace, and there alone, Kant retracts the perfect analogy between human agents
in the state of nature and states in their external relations. In The Metaphysics of Morals , his contention was that human beings have a duty to exit the domestic state of nature and to enter a rightful condition (a civil state) because in the absence of a public authority their rights—to freedom, property, and contract—would remain provisional and their adjudication, arbitrary (MM VI: 312). This gives a right to every individual in the state of nature to coerce any other into entering the civil state (MM VI: 312). But when discussing the second definitive article of Perpetual Peace, Kant insists that it would be wrong to coerce a state to exit the international state of nature in order to become a member of the league of free states (PP VIII: 355–356, Kant 1991a, 104). Leaving aside for a moment the ground of this claim, it is notable that Kant has differentiated his general concept of right from that of international right. The implication is that the latter does not rest on the same stringent juridical coercion that restricts the external freedom of human agents. Unfortunately, Kant takes the point back by concluding that, according to reason: Just like individual men, [states] must renounce their savage and lawless freedom, adapt themselves to public coercive laws, and thus form an international state (civitas gentium), which would necessarily continue to grow until it embraced all the peoples of the earth. But since this is not the will of the nations according to their present conception of right (so that they reject in hypothesi what is true in thesi), the positive idea of a world republic cannot be realised. If all is not to be lost, this can at best find a negative substitute in the shape of enduring and gradually expanding federation likely to prevent war. (PP VIII: 357, Kant 1991a, 105, emphasis in bold added)
On the one side, this passage reintroduces the state-of-nature analogy between humans and states which collapses Kant’s earlier distinction between international right and right as such. In effect, the Kantian league of states becomes a mere practical approximation of the ideal of a world state. On the other side, Kant says that states are reluctant to become subjects to a world state because of ‘their present conception of right’: This seems to reinstate international right as distinct from right as such. Whether these contradictory statements can be reconciled depends on how Kant uses the principle of international right to justify the league of states as an international authority.
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Justifying International Authority: Coercion and Sovereignty
Right is a principle of public coercion designed to protect freedom. Before we can tell whether Kant’s foedus pacifcum can be properly justified in terms of right—either right in general or international right as sui generis —it is necessary to establish whether it is a coercive institution, and whether it can, at the same time, ensure the freedom of its members. What has eluded commentators is that there are (at least) two distinct types of coercion: one concerns the act of joining or leaving an institution (regardless of its character), the other concerns the coercive character of the institution itself. Coercion in the former involves restriction on the freedom to join or abandon an arrangement; in the latter sense it permits the use of force (Ripstein 2009). If one is both free to join and to leave an institution, it does not so much matter whether the institution itself is run on principles that are coercive in this second sense. The situation of a social psychologist who opts for a short stay in prison as part of an experiment that he is free to terminate at any time is hardly coercive in the first sense (since it is up to him to stay or leave) despite that prison rules are coercive in the second sense (related to force). In The Metaphysics of Morals Kant presents the league of free states as an alliance that contains free entry and free exit clauses, and whose rules are non-coercive (MM VI, 350–351): This is a purely voluntary association. In Perpetual Peace the league is said to have a constitution: Hence, it is not a voluntary alliance, but a semi-permanent institutional structure that supposes commitment to certain binding norms or rules. One way to interpret Kant’s point is that entry into this kind of institution is coercive, and its rules are themselves coercive, in which case it would represent a federation that resembles a civil state. Alternatively, states are free to join the foedus pacificum but its rules contain a coercive element that sanctions the use of force—we may term this arrangement a confederation. An example of the latter is a system of collective security (Wendt 1999, 300– 302). A collective security system contains rules of non-aggression binding on members, and rules of common defence against non-members, on the principle ‘one for all, all for one’ (Wendt 1999, 301). While states are left free to decide whether to become part of such an arrangement, the rules of the game are coercive with respect to each individual member in the sense that if one state attacks another, the rest would be obligated to defend the victim by employing force if need be. Kant implies as much when he writes
in Perpetual Peace that states should renounce war as a means of settling disputes. Since the minimally coercive character of international rules would have to be presupposed (the rules must be binding or non-optional at least to some degree to meet the criterion of a Kantian constitution), what is at stake is the coerciveness of entry and its moral justification. The crux of the matter is whether forcing a state to enter an international institution against its will is morally justified. Some interpreters (Habermas 1997, 117; Byrd and Hruschka 2010) hold that in the interest of consistency, Kant should have allowed states to coerce each other into submitting to a world state. But this begs the question about the distinctiveness of international right by assuming that states are sufficiently similar to human beings (see Chapter 6). In Perpetual Peace, as may be recalled, Kant denies that there is a right to coerce a state into a lawful condition. Three lines of justification are available to defend this claim. The first is that a sovereign state, as a holder of supreme coercive authority in a realm, cannot itself be coerced (Flikschuh 2010, 471; Williams 2003, 110). As we have seen, in The Metaphysics of Morals and in Theory and Practice Kant maintained that the people cannot coerce the executive because it represents the supreme coercive authority. This presumes a relation between citizens and the executive within the internal jurisdiction of the sovereign state, whose remit is civil right. It is debatable whether the same point about the impossibility of coercing the supreme coercer applies to the sphere of international right where each state constitutes a separate realm of jurisdiction. The problem here is not coercion per se but the mutual independence of states. A second justification as to why a state cannot be compelled to join an institution appeals to Kant’s ideal of a republican state. Ideally, a republic is a union of free, independent, and co-legislating individuals. Coercing a state to submit to an international institution is wrong on this view because it violates the freedom of its people and contradicts its ideal character as a ‘self-determining and self-legislating unity’ (Kleingeld 2004, 309). Once again, this justificatory reasoning refers to the internal structure of the state, and not to the relations between states presupposed by international right. The third justification is that it is wrong to coerce a state to leave the state of nature because a state already has an internal lawful constitution. ‘For as states, they already have a lawful internal constitution, and have thus outgrown the coercive right of others to subject them to a wider legal constitution in accordance with their conception of right’ (PP VIII: 855– 856; Kant 1991a, 104, emphasis added). Each state, in other words, is a
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sovereign realm inside which a lawful (or rightful) condition prevails and no other state has a right to coercively redefine this condition in accordance with its own conception of right. This represents an ‘internationalised’ version of the first justification which held that coercion cannot be applied against a sovereign state. But instead of a relation between citizens and their state, the current justification concerns the relation among a multitude of sovereign states; its context is international right , not civil right. My proposal thus is to treat civil right, international right, and cosmopolitan right as distinct principles, establishing different kinds of relations between different classes of agents (cf. Flikschuh 2010, 487). The price of recognising the distinctiveness of international right is the so-called ‘sovereignty dilemma’ (Flikschuh 2010). The dilemma arises because Kant can no longer consistently claim that states ought to leave the state of nature and establish a world state, but also that in lieu of its sovereignty qua independence no state should be coerced by another into a lawful condition (Flikschuh2010, 471, 481; Nardin 2017, 368). This problem, moreover, is not contingent or empirical but proceeds from the idea of reason which grounds Kant’s conception of right as external lawful coercion that can only be realised in a public realm. It could be that Kant’s paradigmatic concept of right as inherently coercive describes the authority of the state, but it does not apply to the relations between private individuals at the domestic level, nor to the relations between states at the international or global levels (Flikschuh 2010, 489). This reading is supported by Kant’s observation that as the principle of international right is supposed to guarantee freedom, it does not require coercive power to administer laws (PP VIII: 356, Kant 1991a, 104). The upshot is that the international authority that responds to the international principle of right, as a sui generis principle, cannot mechanically replicate the coercive system of law typical of the domestic state. This authority cannot be a super state or a coercive federation of states. At most, it is either a purely voluntary alliance, or a confederation of states with limited coercive powers as the one (arguably) presented in Perpetual Peace. The member states of such a confederation freely commit themselves to a common body of constraining rules. The underlying idea here is not voluntariness but commitment, and it points back to Hobbes’s doctrine of covenants of mutual trust in the state of nature. With this we have arrived at Hobbesian internationalism and its twin notions: anarchy and authority. The requisite international authority is
Kant’s confederation of free states and it is ‘anarchical’ in that it is a product of covenants between mutually independent states. Bringing Hobbes’s theory of covenants back can illuminate the normative structure of Kant’s peaceful confederation. In a Hobbesian vein the justification of institutions proceeds from the bottom up. Thus the league of free states does not draw its normative force from above, from a public realm of international law, but rather from below, from the original rights of states to freedom and independence (Kant’s ‘innate right’). There is no public realm of international law to authoritatively determine, adjudicate, and enforce the rights of states. States remain in the state of nature because the rules that govern their interactions are not, and indeed cannot be, determined by a global sovereign. Even inside the peaceful league they retain their original freedom insofar as this league does not express the omnilateral will of all states but only of some states, without subjecting them to coercive rules of public justice (Nardin 2017). According to Hobbesian internationalism, the relations of states resemble the realm of private right. The point turns on a contrast between law and covenant in Hobbes’s terms or, if we prefer Kant’s terminology, between public right and private right. The problem is not that there are no external relations between states, but that there are hardly any omnilateral, public relations. If any international institutions are to be created, they would be based on private contracts between particular states and not on public arrangements that encompass all states at once. Thus, the peaceful confederation would start with a few participants whose number would tend to increase over time; its principle is gradualism. However, states are not simply private parties but public entities that maintain private relations, especially relations of contract. But because states are public actors, their relations in the international state of nature would be less insecure than the relations between human beings qua private parties in the domestic state of nature. This is one more reason why there is no need for a super state. In short, there is no positive law above states for either Hobbes or Kant. But although states are not bound by a common body of supranational law if by this is meant a centralised legal order with legislative, judicial, and enforcement prerogatives, they are bound to keep their own covenants.6 This is a (defeasible) moral obligation. In this light, Kant’s definition of an unjust enemy (MM VI: 349) as an agent that makes the non-performance of contracts a maxim of one’s conduct is clearly Hobbesian. Justice, in other words, can be objectively construed as a system of external legal rules (this is justice inside a legal realm), but it can also be subjectively construed in
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Hobbesian terms as a non-performance of covenant (this concept of justice applies both to pre-civil and civil condition). In the context of international relations, the principle of keeping covenants is particularly important. Moreover, the empirical fact of having a relatively small number of players in the international system and the contiguity of borders means that cases of covenant breaking by states would be known. On the premises of Hobbesian internationalism, the contracts that states enter into are not coercively underwritten by a super state or a public system of international law. They represent Hobbesian covenants of mutual trust which are morally binding in the state of nature. It is true that such covenants can be dissolved, but the normative baseline is that a covenant binds the party who undertakes a commitment towards, and thus creates a moral right for, the corresponding party. Hobbes’s idea of covenanting agents as moral persons who create moral rights for each other by an act of will corrects the excessive legalism of Kant’s doctrine of right. At the end, understanding why a sovereign state should not be coerced to join the pacific league of free states requires us to acknowledge that the state is a person who holds a sort of moral sovereignty.
Kant’s conception of right, as we have seen, can enrich Hobbes’s political philosophy by showing that right and freedom presuppose a relation between persons and not just the absence of physical impediments to motion. When a system of right generates obligations and rights for a group of agents, the freedom that they thereby acquire is not wild freedom but civilised freedom that demands mutual forbearance. Only this form of freedom enables individuals to coexist and pursue self-chosen projects without hindrance from others. But Kant was wrong to think that an identical principle of right can be applied to the relations of states, a mistake which explained his cravings for a world state. The ‘second best’ option, a peaceful league of free states, is a genuine alternative to a world state only if it disables the principle which mandates states to be coerced into league membership. Hobbes’s theory of covenants allowed us to conceptualise states as independent persons holding moral sovereignty. Hobbes’s insight is that both natural persons and purely artificial persons, states, have the capacity to enter into covenants that are not guaranteed by an overarching coercive authority but depend on the precarious bonds of mutual trust. But
this is another way of saying that the league of free states is an institution inside rather than outside the state of nature.
Notes 1. The discussion of Kant’s works on legal and political philosophy in this chapter is based on the following editions: The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), abbreviated as ‘MM’; Kant’s essays Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795) and Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose (1784) are from the Hans Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings translated by H.B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 2nd ed.), abbreviated as ‘PP ’ and ‘UH ’. The essay On The Common Saying: That May be Correct in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice (1793) is from Kant’s Practical Philosophy, translated and edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), abbreviated as ‘TP ’. Mary Gregor’s edition and translation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) has also been used for The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)—Kant’s basic work on moral theory, abbreviated as ‘G’. For Kant’s metaphysics, presented in The Critique of Pure Reason, I have relied on Werner S. Pluhar’s unified edition (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996) which combines the first (1781) and second (1787) original editions of The Critique, abbreviated as ‘CPR’. As per convention, all references follow the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of Kant’s works, cited by volume and section (For example, G IV: 4 refers to section 4 of The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals being Volume IV in the Prussian Academy edition). For the sake of consistency, this established citation format has been adopted also when citing the essays in the Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings. 2. On the ‘third antimony’ concerning the problem of freedom and causality see CPR A 444-451/B472-479, and on its solution, CPR 538-559/B566-587. 3. Duties of right prescribe actions, and duties of ethics, ends which are themselves duties (MM VI, 239). 4. The following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used in this chapter: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass, 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; Leviathan, edited by C.B. Macpherson (London: Penguin, 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’. References to The Elements are cited by part, chapter, and article number. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets.
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5. In this paragraph, I follow Ripstein (2009, 9–19, 34–42). 6. Ripstein argues that even though international law is rudimentary with respect to its legislative and enforcement prerogatives, it can regulate state conduct via international courts. Ripstein thinks that Kant’s argument for international right in the Metaphysics of Morals can be interpreted along these lines (Ripstein 2009, 229–230).
Bibliography Bohman, James, and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (eds.). 1997. Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Brown, M.E., S.M. Lynn-Jones, and S.E. Miller. 1996. Debating the Democratic Peace: An International Security Reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Byrd, Sharon B., and Joachim Hruschka. 2010. Kant’s Doctrine of Right: A Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cavallar, Georg. 1999. Kant and the Theory and Practice of International Right. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Doyle, Michael W. 1983a. Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part I. Philosophy & Public Affairs 12 (3): 205–235. Doyle, Michael W. 1983b. Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part II. Philosophy & Public Affairs 12 (4): 323–353. Doyle, Michael W. 1986. Liberalism and World Politics. American Political Science Review 80 (4): 1151–1169. Flikschuh, Kartrin. 2000. Kant and Modern Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Flikschuh, Katrin. 2010. Kant’s Sovereignty Dilemma: A Contemporary Analysis. Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (4): 469–493. Guyer, Paul. 2002. Kant’s Deductions of the Principles of Right. In Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretive Essays, ed. Mark Timmons, 23–64. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Guyer, Paul. 2006. Kant. London and New York: Routledge. Habermas, Jurgen. 1997. Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years Hindsight. In Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal, ed. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, 113–154. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Hobbes, Thomas. 1968. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson. London: Penguin (Originally published in 1651). Hobbes, Thomas. 1969. The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, 2nd ed., ed. Ferdinand Tönnies. London: Frank Cass (Originally published in 1650). Höffe, Otfried. 2006. Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and Peace, trans. Alexandra Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hurrell, Andrew. 1990. Kant and the Kantian Paradigm of International Relations. Review of International Studies 16 (3): 183–205. Kant, Immanuel. 1991a. Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. In Immanuel Kant, Political Writings, 2nd ed., trans. H.B. Nisbet, ed. Hans Reiss, 93–130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1795). Kant, Immanuel. 1991b. Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose. In Immanuel Kant, Political Writings, 2nd ed., trans. H.B. Nisbet, ed. Hans Reiss, 41–53 (Originally published in 1784). Kant, Immanuel. 1996a. The Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1797). Kant, Immanuel. 1996b. On The Common Saying: That May be Correct in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice. In Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1793). Kant, Immanuel. 1996c. Critique of Pure Reason, unified edn, trans. Werner S. Pluhar. Indianapolis: Hackett (First edition originally published in 1781, second edition originally published in 1787). Kant, Immanuel. 1997. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Originally published in 1785). Kersting, Wolfgang. 1992. Kant’s Concept of the State. In Essays on Kant’s Political Philosophy, ed. Howard Williams, 143–165. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Kinsella, David. 2005. No Rest for the Democratic Peace. American Political Science Review 99 (3): 453–457. Kleingeld, Pauline. 2004. Approaching Perpetual Peace: Kant’s Defence of a League of States and His Ideal of a World Federation. European Journal of Philosophy 12 (3): 304–325. Kleingeld, Pauline. 2016. Kant’s Moral and Political Cosmopolitanism. Philosphy Compass 11 (1): 14–23. Laberge, Pierre. 1998. Kant on Justice and the Law of Nations. In International Society: Diverse Ethical Perspectives, ed. D.R. Mapel and T. Nardin, 82–102. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Nardin, Terry. 2017. Kant’s Republican Theory of Justice and International Relations. International Relations 31 (3): 357–372. Raphael, D.D. 2004. Hobbes: Morals and Politics, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. Rawls, John. 1999. The Law of Peoples. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Ripstein, Arthur. 2004. Authority and Coercion. Philosophy & Public Affairs 32 (1): 2–35. Ripstein, Arthur. 2009. Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Russett, Bruce. 1993. Grasping the Democratic Peace. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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Rosato, Sebastian. 2003. The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory. American Political Science Review 97 (4): 585–602. Sreedhar, Susanne. 2010. Hobbes on Resistance: Defying the Leviathan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tuck, Richard. 1999. The Rights of War and Peace: Political Thought and the International Order from Grotius to Kant. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wendt, Alexander. 1999. Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Westphal, Kenneth. 1993. Republicanism, Despotism and Obedience to the State: the Inadequacy of Kant’s Division of Powers. Jahrbuch Für Recht Und Ethik/Annual Review of Law and Ethics 1: 263–281. Williams, Howard. 2003. Kant’s Critique of Hobbes. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Williams, Howard. 2012. Kant and the End of War: A Critique of Just War Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Wood, Allen W. 2005. Kant. Oxford: Blackwell.
Challenges: Globalisation and the Resurgence of Private Authority
Two recent discourses linked to globalisation and private authority challenge the idea of a Hobbesian state and the Hobbesian internationalism that is central to this book. Theorists of globalisation (Held and McGrew 2003; Sassen 2006; Scholte 2005) contend that certain processes termed ‘global’, such as the compression of time and space and the intensification of transborder flows of communication, capital, and people, are placing new demands on states. Indeed, processes of this kind are said to be undermining the notion of an international realm whose primary actors are public authorities: sovereign states (Held 1995; Sassen 1997). A parallel development is the proliferation of private authority in the form of global networks that are conducting relations below and above the level of the state (Slaughter 2004). The rise of private authority has simultaneously been linked to the devolving of responsibility for security provision from states to private military companies which are increasingly contracted to conduct operations abroad (Cameron and Chetail 2013; Kinsey 2006; Singer 2003). Taken together, these trends seem to pose a problem for Hobbesian internationalism and its underlying concept of the sovereign state as a public authority. In what follows, it will be shown that Hobbesian internationalism contains the resources to respond to these challenges. Concretely, my aim is to develop a Hobbesian argument for a global public realm and to defend it against the rival idea of a global private realm whose driving forces are the privatisation of authority and the processes of globalisation itself. The argument turns on two distinctions—between the © The Author(s) 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9_8
international and the global realm, and between public and private authority. The first reflects a difference between an international order whose agencies are exclusively states, and a global order where non-state agencies and processes are no less important than states. The second distinction pertains to the nature of the agencies involved: They count as public authorities when they meet the criterion of publicness (rule of law)—such as omnilateralism, impartial adjudication of disputes, non-discrimination among agents—that has been associated with the Hobbesian state as a public realm of law and the Kantian state as res publica (see Chapter 7). The notion of private authority has its roots in Locke’s political philosophy (1980). It has been most clearly articulated in Robert Nozick’s neo-Lockean theory of the minimal state where the market (and not law) constitutes the basic model of agent relations (Nozick 1974). Once these distinctions are understood, it will become clear that it is a fallacy to suppose that because the international order confined to sovereign states has evolved into a global order, it is necessary to dispense with the concept of public authority. The import of Hobbesian internationalism lies in the fact that it preserves the normative ideal of public authority or publicness while relocating its institutional locus from the state, as a domestic public realm, to that of the global public realm. It is the case that a properly structured global public realm must include states in order to actualise the ideal of publicness—exemplified by a Kantian confederation of republics (Chapter 7)—but they need not be the sole actors. What Hobbesian internationalism excludes is the complete privatisation of global authority: or a shift from the regulative ideal of law as a public framework for the distribution of freedom to that of the market where freedom is subject to considerations of cost efficiency. The chapter has four sections. The first sketches the discourse of globalisation and global governance, followed by an examination of the problem of private authority which focusses on private military and security companies in a global context. The pair of contrasting ideas, of a Lockean state as private authority accompanied by a market mechanism and that of a Hobbesian state as public authority based on law, are analysed in the third section. The final pages reaffirm the promise of Hobbesian internationalism by supporting the conception of a global public realm committed to freedom and rights against the idea of a global private realm whose primary value is economic efficiency.
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Globalisation and Global Governance
Globalisation is characterised by the intensified exchange of goods, capital, services, and people across state borders and by real-time transactions due to advances in microchip and satellite technologies. The idea is that we all have become interconnected within a global community as consumers, scholars, migrants, and social activists: The world is now a ‘global village’ (McLughan 1962, 31). Such global trends do not escape the control of this or that particular state: They circumvent the entire domain of sovereign states—or the international realm. States, that is, have become exposed to global forces that affect the choices, life chances, and opportunities of those living inside their borders in a way that is systemic and cannot be ignored (Risse 2012). As a rule globalisation enthusiasts do not simply make the empirical claim that global processes are underway and demand adjustment in policy responses by states. Rather, their claim is conceptual: The very notion of the state as a sovereign entity that exerts coercive juridical authority over individuals inside an enclosed territory has become suspect. But, then, what is globalisation? The response may be to point to ‘supraterritorialised’ social spaces (Scholte 2005, 3, 61–62), increased transborder flows of trade, investment and communications (Hirst and Thompson 2002, 247), ‘governmentality’ beyond the state (Foucault 2007), and most importantly, technocratic networks (Slaughter 2004). The difficulty in assessing the discourse of globalisation is that it is highly amorphous. It has been analysed within sociological and economic theory and in the remainder of this section we shall attend to some these interpretations. Sociological Models of Globalisation Sociologists remain divided over the puzzle of globalisation. Some liken it to late modernity (Giddens 1990), others, to compression of space and time expressed as deterritorialisation (Scholte 2005) or ‘dromology’/speed (Virilio 1986), and still others, to the phenomenon of networks, ‘liquid’ power, or flows in the era of late capitalism (for a critique see Joseph 2010b). While these analyses put into relief conventional understandings of capital, politics, and communication by identifying the contours of an emergent global polity, they are burdened by conceptual imprecision. Giddens’s claim that globalisation is an aspect of late modernity, for example, seems to redescribe rather than to explain the issue at hand. Jan Scholte defines globalisation as transformation in social space that has
two aspects, global connectivity (increased density of transborder transactions) and supraterritoriality (instantaneity and simultaneity of transactions beyond territorial space) (2005, 60–62, 77). So construed, globalisation should be differentiated from cognate notions such as internationalisation, westernisation/Americanisation, liberalisation (economic theory of neoliberalism), and value universalism. Unfortunately, these factors creep back into Scholte’s account (2005, 200), leading his critics to observe that globalisation becomes both an explanandum and an explanans (Rosenberg 2000, 3, see also 17–44). Another difficulty is that supraterrrioriality includes both spatial (extraterritorial) and temporal (simultaneity) factors but actually they are distinct analytical components. More compelling in this respect is Saskia Sassen’s (2001) study of global cities—New York, London, Tokyo—as deterritorialised service hubs that are integrated within the global economy and thus positioned ‘outside’ their host state. Networks represent another key concept in the discourse of globalisation. In an abstract sense, a network comprises a self-adjusting processes connected via multiple nodes that transmit information from node to node (Castells 2010, xxxvi–xxvii). A network has no boundary—new nods can be added to it and its circuits rearranged. It differs from a system which has units and structure, and therefore boundaries that differentiate it from its environment (Luhmann 1995, 195–197, 207–208). Within the context of organisational theory, networks serve the purpose of regulation or resource management aimed at producing outcomes. Because a network is more a process than a structure, it easily crosses domains, including the domestic, international, and global spheres. Within the sociology of late capitalism, proponents of the new economy of information suggests that the category of networks captures social dynamics that cannot be explained via traditional categories of social structure analysis such as class, the family, race, ethnicity, nation, or state (Lash 2002, 115). Sceptics retort that networks are products of the economic ideology of neoliberalism (Joseph 2010b, 128), a theme taken up below. Foucault’s well known concept of governmentality exhibits curious parallels with network analysis. Like a network, governmentality is a managerial or regulatory technique (Foucault 2007). Foucault develops this concept by way of contrast between government and sovereignty. Sovereignty is the juridical concept of supreme authority familiar from social contract theory, whereas government—or the ‘art of government’—comprises various techniques and procedures for regulating and managing subjects including ‘government of the self’, government of the family, and government
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tied to the state (Foucault 2007, 88, 93–94). Foucault emphasises the role of government in maintaining the well-being of the subjects, termed ‘economy’. In the eighteenth century, he contends, the art of government underwent a fundamental transformation, altering its focus from the economy of the family to an economy of the population (Foucault 2007, 95, 103–104). By ‘population’ Foucault does not refer to a body politic, but rather, to a demographic and biological category (Foucault 2003b, 242, 245; 2007, 104). Thus in modernity the object of government has become the management of the population with respect to its well-being (Foucault 2007, 105). This change is associated with the rise of liberalism as a form of governmental intervention that is minimal (or ‘economised’). In brief, governmentality signals the decoupling of the art of government from the juridical, sovereign state: to the extent that the state is affected by techniques of government it becomes an administrative, regulatory state that is not exclusively concerned with creating, interpreting and enforcing the law. Governmentality has implications for the discourse of globalisation. To begin with, techniques of governmentality operate like global networks: They can be transmitted globally because populations can be managed from a distance, or indirectly. Moreover, governmentality is linked to the free market, and thus to neoliberalism (Joseph 2010a, 227). Its techniques are designed to encourage the subjects to make use of their freedom in the economic sphere, and therefore to take responsibility for regulating their own conduct. Because the point of governmentality is to improve the welfare of the population, it is bound by considerations of efficiency (or ‘economisation’) as opposed to norms of freedom, be it Hobbesian freedom as non-interference or Kantian freedom as independence. Although the sociological approaches to globalisation canvassed above share no conceptual core, they all reflect dissatisfaction with the sovereign state. In its paradigmatic, Hobbesian description, the sovereign state is a supreme public authority whose purview is law. Hobbes speaks of a known (promulgated) body of laws (L XXVI, 317 ) indicating that at any time, the institutional structure of the state and its organs is identifiable by its subjects. In contrast, networks, especially global ones, have a fuzzy identity which makes it unclear who does what, raising concerns about transparency and accountability (Nardin 2011, 2060). More generally, network analysis replaces structure with flows, coercion with self-regulation, and procedures of conflict resolution with coordination devices. The absence of conflict resolution mechanisms indicates that networks are inherently
depoliticised: as such they do not represent a framework for adjudicating disputes, particularly when adjudication must respond to criteria of impartiality and generality. Nor can they ensure impartial enforcement of adjudicated decisions. These functions are best discharged by the state suggesting that networks can at most complement rather than replace its workings. A related normative worry is that Foucault’s concept of governmentality entails posthumanism. In some of his early works such as The Archaeology of Knowledge (2003a, 18) and Discipline and Punish (1995), Foucault depicts individuals as products of discourses of power: subjects rather than agents. The same scepticism concerning the idea of a sovereign individual, an idea that is central to both Hobbes and Kant and much of contemporary liberal philosophy, survives in Foucault’s later writings on governmentality (2007). On the liberal conception individuals are persons in the sense that they hold rights and statuses enabling them to assert a sort of sovereignty against other persons and even against the state, and whose rights and statuses are protected by law. There is something unsettling in Foucault’s concept of population because it replaces the notion of a person with that of a biological species and reduces political and juridical power to biopower or ‘biopolitics’ (Foucault 2003b, 239–263, esp. 243, 245). So far we sought to establish whether the discourse of globalisation, together with its sister approaches, network analysis and governmentality as understood within sociology, constitute viable alternatives to the Hobbesian sovereign state. As a next step we shall consider the problem of a globalised world from the perspective of economic science. Economic Globalisation Globalisation, in the economist’s sense of the term, refers to the growing volumes of capital and trade that circulate across state borders. But in this sense, this development was already present at the close of the nineteenth century when markets were more open than today and when fewer immigration restrictions were imposed on the incoming labour force, particularly for migrant workers travelling from Europe to the USA (Hirst and Thompson 1999, 19–65; 2002, 247). The novelty appears to be the diffusion effect of global transactions or the fact that nowadays these transactions affect almost everybody everywhere. Usually, the volume of capital and investment flows rather than trade are used to measure the degree of globalisation. Currencies, securities, and
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derivatives can be purchased and sold instantaneously on the global financial markets. Markets are taken to constitute the environment inside which states interact and thus cannot be controlled even by the most powerful state or group of states. Stopford et al. (1991) have argued that at present each state must compete for global market share, pushing it to solicit investments from foreign firms. The result is a triadic relationship between states, between domestic and foreign firms, and between states and firms (Brown 2001, 174–175). A firm needs state-approved access to foreign markets, and a state needs to attract the most technologically advanced firms, multinational companies. The premise here is that states are not independent juridical entities but economic agents interacting inside the global political economy. Many economists associate globalisation with the spread of neoliberalism. Domestically, it represents a return to economic liberalism following the stagnation of the welfare state in the 1980s. The core neoliberal principle holds that free markets with their capacity for self-adjustment represent the best regulatory mechanism of the economy, which requires state withdrawal from active intervention in the economic process for redistributive and other social purposes. While it is widespread in the US, UK, and New Zealand, neoliberal ideology has become the ethos of leading post-war international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Brown 2001, 161–162). It underpins the ‘Washington consensus’ that allows the IMF and the World Bank to attach conditions to the provision of economic and financial aid, requiring recipient states to implement structural reforms and to pursue macroeconomic policies of fiscal austerity, low inflation, and market liberalisation. International economic institutions are often seen as elements inside a broader system of global governance. The key contrast here is between ‘governance’ and ‘government’ (Rosenau and Czempiel 1992). While the former concept resembles networks in that it relies on informal procedures and on agencies decoupled from the state, it focusses on institutions. Global governance can be understood as an institutionalised response to problems created by globalisation. To this category belong the management of the global economic system as a whole, but also of particular global problems such as ozone layer depletion, pollution, transnational crime, and global health pandemics. It has been claimed that the Westphalian system of sovereign states has failed to respond to such challenges (Strange 1999). While it is true that global problems cannot be resolved by any single state,
no matter how powerful and technologically advanced, but require coordination via international and global institutions, it is important to distinguish the scope of institutions from their formal constitution. Although the IMF, the World Bank, a the World Trade Organisation have a global scope, they remain international institutions dependent on the authorisation of states. Government Networks Analogously, the most prominent global networks are components of the state: They represent government networks. Like all networks inside social organisations, they are tools for regulation and resource management. A government network, as its name indicates, is an agency within the internal apparatus of the state, which maintains regular connections with a counterpart agency in another state. Anna-Marie Slaughter has suggested that global networks of state-appointed technocrats—ministers, functionaries, or even judges—have become so ubiquitous as to warrant the claim that a new world order is in the making (2004). Examples include the meetings of foreign ministers within the European Union, the G7, and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Such networks presuppose a ‘disaggregated’ state. The state is no longer a unitary actor that speaks with one voice, but a sum of functions that can be performed by different agencies, including transborder ones. But this argument is hardly novel; it has affinities with the doctrine of functionalism proposed by the early theorist of European integration, David Mitrany. Mitrany’s motto ‘form follows function’ (1966) looks for a technical or non-political solution to problems, on the understanding that different organs may be appropriate for performing different functions. Fiscal policies can be best carried out by domestic organs, defence may require supranational organs and so on. The argument for government networks reproduces this functionalist logic by adding the premise that processes and informal contacts among technocrats should be prioritised over formal structures and statuses. The analysis of government networks combines the assumption of a disaggregated state with that of transborder (global) relations, but it is doubtful whether this combination is coherent. Once the sovereign state is decomposed into a constellation of ever-mutating networks, it no longer has a structure. But unless it has a structure, it cannot have a boundary—or a border—that separates it from its environment: from other states as well as from things which are not states. Expressed differently, a sovereign state with a fixed territorial border presupposed by the concept of trans-border
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relations clashes with the notion of a disaggregated state whose bits and pieces lack structure and boundaries. No less important is the normative question about the values promoted by networks. While they offer managerial solutions that are arguably more efficient than the decisions of state bureaucracies, efficiency has its dark side: It reduces the citizens to ‘resources’ that are managed and regulated. A related set of concerns, as we shall see, applies to the privatisation of security.
The Privatisation of Security Public Goods, Private Commodities
The recent trend of outsourcing the provision of public security to private actors represents the second major challenge to the Hobbesian state and to Hobbesian internationalism. For Hobbes the state is the highest coercive authority in a realm, which makes it the core provider of public security on its territory. Its police forces are responsible for internal security (against interpersonal violence and domestic threats such as civil unrest), and its army, for external security (against threats from the international sphere). The literature on the private security industry suggests that this monopoly status may be changing. Specifically, the hypothesis is that security can be regarded as a private good—or ‘commodity’—which private companies are able to supply faster and cheaper, or more efficiently, than the public institution of the state (Taylor 2018). Instead of dealing with this broad hypothesis, this section will evaluate the operations of globally active private security companies the majority of which operate in war zones or in unstable third-world countries, especially in Africa (Abrahamsen and Williams 2009; Shearer 1999). The public security that the state provides is a ‘public good’ in the parlance of contemporary economic theory. It has two properties: nonrivalry and non-excludability (Samuelson and Nordhaus 2010, 36–37). Non-rivalry means that the consumption of this type of good by one individual does not adversely affect its consumption by any additional individual in the sense that once one individual has paid for it, anybody else can enjoy it at no additional cost. Non-excludability means that no one in the relevant class can be excluded from consuming the good, as it is provided to everyone at once. Examples of public goods include national security, lighthouses, and a public school system.
The non-excludability feature of public goods leads to issues of free riding. Normally, private companies have no incentive to sell goods of this kind, considering the difficulty of discriminating payers from non-payers. Public goods are normally supplied by public institutions such as the state which finances them though taxation. However it is not necessary for a public good to be provided by a public authority (Samuelson and Nordhaus 2010, 37). A private police can protect all the members of a gated community. Security can even become a pure commodity if, for example, a person hires a private bodyguard. Nevertheless, in relation to people living in a given territory as a whole the state is likely to remain the basic provider of security in the foreseeable future. It is the only actor that can ensure a threshold of basic security for everybody, that is, on a non-exclusive principle. If further security above the basic level is needed in some areas, it can be supplied by private actors (Claassen 2011, 140). These insights constitute the background for debates on the privatisation of security in the sphere of international and global affairs. Private Military and Security Companies in a Global Context The global role of private military companies remains a contested issue. Some specialists regard private contractors as business people who work for a fee (Taylor 2018, 148). The fact that they are not constrained by a political agenda increases their speed of response in war-torn zones around the world. Ethicists worry that such companies do not always operate for entirely legitimate purposes (Coady 2008, 214–215, 222; Nardin 2011, 2060), a drawback exacerbated by the absence of standard oversight procedures to monitor their involvement in international conflicts in remote areas. Yet another difficulty is that the research on private military and security companies has not been informed by a theoretical approach (Singer 2003). The devolution of traditional state-based functions to private actors is the core principle of the private security industry. An increasing number of Western states and even alliances—such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO—outsource their external security functions to private agencies. It is a remarkable fact that almost half of the military personnel involved in the US-led wars in Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (2007–2018) were private contractors (Peters, Congressional Research Service Report, May 2019). Private contractors can also be commissioned by third-world countries with weak militaries, as in the cases of the South
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African firm Executive Outcomes which played a pivotal role in the conflicts in Angola and Sierra Leone in the 1990s (Shearer 1999). These nongovernmental actors maintain close ties with the governments from which they receive a mandate. But to ensure a sufficiently nuanced pronouncement, it is important to acknowledge that the global private security sector is not homogenous. David Shearer (1999) has usefully identified five types of private enterprises: independent military companies, proxy companies, security companies, ad hoc grouping, and ‘privatised’ states. Independent military companies such as Executive Outcomes and the British company Sandline International can engage in combat operations abroad, for which they need a formal governmental mandate. In addition, Western governments often contract proxy companies for the purposes of advising and training foreign troops (Coady 2008, 220). London-based Saladin Security was used to train the Oman military (Shearer 1999, 84). A special category of security companies serve to protect commercial interests but they are increasingly deployed to guard humanitarian aid convoys and refugee camps. They may form joint ventures with their client state, as happened when such companies obtained access to Angola’s diamond and oil industry (Shearer 1999, 85–86). Moreover, individuals, demobilised regular army soldiers or persons with ideological motivation can be hired to fight as mercenaries to reinforce a regular army in an international conflict. But the fact that such groupings have an ad hoc nature and that their members do not adhere to common professional standards and discipline makes their deployment questionable for both strategic and ethical reasons. Finally, states can lend military expertise to one another in a way that resembles a private transaction. As Shearer points out, in the 1990s Zimbabwe had been exporting military expertise to Congo and officials from both countries commonly owned private joint ventures for the importation of military supplies (1999, 87–88). An interesting hypothesis is that global private security contractors in third-world countries can be seen as units integrated within global networks. This assumes that the state represents an ‘assemblage’ (Sassen 2006). It is no longer a public realm but an open network combining private and public functions, embedded in a larger system of global governance. From this angle, Rita Abrahamsen and Michael Williams (2009) have examined two case studies, the diamond mining industry in Sierra Leone (1995–2003), and the oil extraction in the delta of Nigeria. Here only the first case study is discussed. Abrahamsen and Williams portray the state of Sierra Leone as disassembled and thus as forming a network that
includes its own officials and police forces, but also global private security agencies and transnational companies. Group4Securicor, one of the largest private security firms worldwide, was contracted to advise the Sierra Leone government and to protect its diamond mine assets but, at the same time, it was involved with the transnational company in charge of the diamond extraction (Koidu Holdings ). Abrahamsen and Williams conclude that: [Private security companies] cannot in any meaningful way be seen to undermine or supplant public authority. Rather [such] private security actors … are integrated into state-sanctioned structures, where the power and authority of private and public actors interact and combine to produce new institutions and practices that challenge the very categories of public/private and global /local (Abrahamsen and Williams 2009, 9).
While the authors succeed in fleshing out the relation between global/local, public/private, distinctions that closely map onto the concerns of the present discussion, they sidestep any normative assessment pertaining to the privatisation of security. Specifically, three normative questions deserve attention. The first is whether private security companies ought to be permitted to perform tasks on behalf of the state (Taylor 2018, 148). This is an ethical worry as well as a political one. It seems that states tend to commission private contractors whenever there is a need to implement controversial foreign policies while escaping democratic control. Second, at present no body of international law governs the conduct of private military contractors in foreign countries, so in many cases crimes perpetrated by their personnel abroad go unpunished. The setting up of an International Criminal Court with the Rome statute of 2002 is a step in the right direction, but it has not been ratified by the US, the largest player in the global security market. Third, private military companies, as agencies equipped for combat, can operate anonymously. The recent deployment of Russian troops caring no insignia of the Russian Federation in the conflict in Ukraine is a case in point. It was excused by Russian officials on the grounds that the Russian state cannot control the activities of private Russian nationals outside its borders (Spearin 2018, 67). But any dispatch of unmarked troops by a state is a guerrilla tactics that contravenes the moral convention of war and its rules of honour (Walzer 1992, 183). Taking stock of the preceding analysis, we may note that the proponents of networks and private security companies did not conclusively show that
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the conception of a Hobbesian state, as public, coercive, juridical authority, is otiose. But this is only a negative argument. To defend this conception a further, positive argument is required. To this end, we shall compare two models of state, a Lockean state as a private authority supplanted with a market mechanism, and a Hobbesian state as a public authority whose essence is juridical.
Lockean Images: Private Authority and the State The Lockean State
The prototype of the Lockean state outlined here follows Nozick’s presentation in Anarchy, State and Utopia (1974). Nozick examines the puzzle of security provision by the state, on the premise that the state has the features of private authority. This conceptualisation of the state is traceable to Locke’s Second Treatise of Government (1980), even though Nozick modifies Locke’s premises. Following Locke, Nozick posits two sets of individual rights in the state of nature: basic rights to life, liberty and possession, and a derivative right to punish violators who infringe the basic rights of others. Nozick defends a ‘minimal state’ whose prerogative is limited to protecting the basic rights of its members, without any provision of social welfare via redistributive policies. The primary task of the minimal state is to punish rights violators as an independent third party. The justification for having a state of this kind is that in the state of nature everyone is threatened by violence, and that the universal right to punishment which every individual holds is not likely to be impartially applied. The creation of a minimal state proceeds in three steps (Nozick 1974, 10–25). The first is the establishment of ‘associations for mutual protection’ in the state of nature. Gradually, specialisation of labour develops, so certain people concentrate on offering paid protection services. Mutual protection associations are thereby replaced by ‘protection agencies’ run by professionals. Independents who refuse to purchase protection must practice self-help. This situation is equivalent to a world where all security services have been privatised and where multiple protection agencies compete for clients. As a second step, a dominant protection agency, or an ‘ultraminimal state’, will emerge having driven less efficient competitors out of business. This agency does not permit its clients to be punished by independents. But this stipulation violates the rights of the independents. Thus, in a third step a
minimal state is set up. It compensates these independent individuals for forgoing their right to punishment, by offering them (unpaid) protection. As a result, the minimal state ends up protecting everyone on its territory (Nozick 1974, 25, 113–114, 117). This type of state is generated by a private mechanism for allocation of value: the market. Because the market is free, the act of joining a protection agency at any stage remains a voluntary affair. Nozick treats security as a private good that can be purchased on the market. But this is not the end of the story because apart from goods, his scheme includes rights. He uses a Kantian notion of rights as ‘side constrains’ which prevent one person from becoming a mere means for others (Nozick 1974, 28–29). Nonetheless, Nozick departs from Kant, and from Hobbes, by making rights parts of a voluntarist conception of morality. Rights as side constraints are supposed to block any non-voluntary transaction, so that no individual can be legitimately forced to contribute to a scheme of mutual benefit without consent. It is important to register that Nozick’s argument for a free market is not a defence of a pure market. In a pure market, everything is reducible to goods. Nozick holds that the exchange of goods must be constrained by antecedent rights. One complication is that utilitarians may treat rights as goods which can be traded against other goods. Nozick rejects this utilitarian approach: He regards rights as morally basic entitlements (1974, 160). They represent protected areas of non-interference drawn around the person that are not subject to trade-offs. A right on this view is an expression of what it means to be a separate person with an identity and plans of one’s own. At the end, Nozick endorses a model of the state which is private rather than public. This is also Locke’s view: The state is an instrument for protecting pre-political individual rights. People transfer their original rights to the state, which holds them as a trustee. But if the state happens to abuse their trust, they have a right to revolt and reclaim their original rights (Locke 1980, XIX, §226). The Lockean state does not possess any rights of its own. It enforces and adjudicates the natural rights to life, liberty, and property that have been transferred to it (Locke 1980, XI, §135). Nozick’s derivation of the minimal state via an invisible hand that allocates the good of security is meant to justify only the state’s derivative right to punish, not the basic rights to life, liberty, and property that continue to be held by its members as human beings. The minimal state represents a private actor on
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a larger scale. It is not a qualitatively different, public authority such as a sovereign state. The Hobbesian State Since the Hobbesian state has been analysed at length in the present study, here it suffices to identify only its points of divergence from the Lockean state. In Chapter 5 devoted to Leviathan Hobbes’s state of nature was interpreted via an uncertainty model with a corresponding image of the state as a security provider (see also Chapter 6, Sec. 6.1) As we have seen, Hobbes’s plethora of arguments for the state of nature can accommodate alternative models, such as the ‘infelicity’ model whose chief concern is not security and uncertainty but freedom of action and where the state is supplier of (legal) rules that enable individual freedom. In this book, Hobbes has been interpreted as a theorist of freedom and rights. Nonetheless, a proper comparison with the Lockean state demands that we consider both models of a Hobbesian state. Recall that on Hobbes’s conception, the public security that the state is supposed to procure comprises not just security from physical violence, as Nozick assumes, but also economic security related to a minimum standard of well-being (E II.9.1; DC 13.4; L XXX, 376 ).1 Hobbes implies that the state has to provide welfare services to its citizens to prevent grave poverty and starvation. In this sense, Hobbes’s and Nozick’s concepts of security remain distinct. The concept of security, as a generalised notion, enters Hobbes’s argument in a second sense: It is a good generated by the social contract. The contract is understood as an exchange of liberty for security (L, A Review and Conclusion, 721 ). This however applies only to the case of founding a commonwealth through conquest. The logical emphasis of Hobbes’s discussion in Leviathan is on ‘commonwealth by institution’ developed in Chap. XVIII. On this alternative conception of the social contract, the concern with security is secondary and that with rights, primary, because the point is to enable the contractors to set up an independent, impartial, public authority. While the goal of each individual contractor may still be to obtain security for oneself only, attaining it presupposes the principle of publicness. This principle is materialised inside the state as a characteristically public authority which distributes freedom among individuals in a way that respects and protects the rights of all (omnilaterally) and without prejudice to some (impartially).
Hobbes uses the term ‘exchange’ when describing the process of instituting the state and this might suggest an analogy with the Lockean state, which merely receives and holds the original rights of its subjects. On Hobbes’s premises, no real transfer of rights takes place though. Hobbesian individuals divest themselves of their right of nature. This means that each individual ‘standeth out of the way’ of another person, so that this other person ‘may enjoy his own originall Right, without hindrance’ (L XIV, 191 ). That is, each agent stops obstructing the freedom of action of others. So when individuals set up the state, each gives up one’s own right of self-government on the condition that everybody else does the same, and thereby authorises a common sovereign to rule over all of them (L XVII, 227 ). In this founding act, agents give up that part of their right of nature that can cause mutual destruction or hindrance to freedom (but not their elementary right of self-preservation), by immediately taking up two kinds of civil rights: ‘civil liberties’ that correspond to the thus renounced rights of nature, as well as newly constituted civil rights (a right to have one’s case heard in court, say). The significance of this is that Hobbes thinks of the state as creating the realm of civil law. As a result, the state accords special rights to its citizens and acquires special rights itself, crucial among which is the right of making and amending the law. The Hobbesian state is not just interpreting and enforcing a pre-existing natural law, it is fundamentally a law-making authority. In this respect, it differs markedly from the Lockean state which adjudicates and enforces antecedent natural rights found in the state of nature (Locke 1980, XI, §135). For Locke, these rights are moral rights under a moral law of nature underwritten by God (Locke 1980, II, §6). In Nozick’s scheme, such rights reappear in the guise of basic moral entitlements. For Hobbes, the making of civil rights proceeds in unison with the making of the state, a purpose for which the state must be qualitatively different from the status ante: the state of nature. To borrow Kant’s language from the Metaphysics of Morals (Kant 1996), whereas in the state of nature relations between agents are a matter of private right (relations of contract and status), the state embodies the domain of public right (see Chapter 7, Sects. 7.1 and 7.3). Another crucial difference is that in contrast to the Lockean state, the Hobbesian state is an artificial person. The state, Hobbes writes, is ‘One Person, of whose Acts a great Multitude, by mutuall Covenants with one another, have made themselves every one the Author’ (L XVII, 228 ). It is an agent distinct from both ruler (the sovereign representative) and ruled (individuals as subjects to the civil law) (Skinner 2009, 346). The
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Hobbesian sovereign does not represent the people, a common theme for Kant (1996) and Rousseau (1987), nor is it a custodian of their original rights, as Locke supposes. Hobbes has no category of ‘the people’: Prior to their association within the state, individuals compose a disassociated multitude. What the Hobbesian sovereign represents is the state (Skinner 2009, 346). Taking these two arguments together, we may pinpoint the twofold peculiarity of the sovereign state propounded by Hobbes. It holds a supreme right as a law-making authority, and it is not a collection of the private contractors who authorise it ab initio. Indeed, it is a public authority: It is an institution independent from its citizens, and it makes rules, civil laws, for all the citizens without privileging certain groups or individuals, as required by the principle of publicness. The latter fact renders it congruent with Kant’s res publica (see Chapter 7, Sect. 7.3). The publicness of this type of state means that it cannot evolve from the model of private market transactions, exemplified by Nozick’s protection agency in the state of nature. The Hobbesian state is a product of an act of authorisation (see Chapter 2, Sect. 2.2). Although this act is freely undertaken, it cannot be properly described as consent or other purely voluntarist expression of will since it implies that the agent, by becoming a citizen, undertakes a commitment to abide by the law. In this sense, it bears resemblance to the non-voluntarist notion of placing oneself under an obligation. But authorisation is also an act of creation: It does not merely transfer rights, it makes rights—both for the subjects and for the state that they thereby institute. In sum, the Hobbesian state is a public authority whose essence is law. It holds enforcement, adjudication and, most importantly, law-making prerogatives. And it is a sovereign authority because these prerogatives are supreme and final in its realm. For Nozick, the minimal state remains a market-like structure which does not require legislative or electoral institutions (Mack 2010, 686). Its logic is private.
International Authority and the Structure of the Global Realm
Having clarified the distinction between public and private authority as alternative models of the state, it is time to consider its relevance for a possible structure of the global realm. (Here the expression ‘global realm’ refers to a normative structure based on institutions and rules, whereas ‘globalisation’, as before, encompasses also a reference to global networks
and processes.) Up to now this global aspect was discussed by considering arguments for globalisation and globalised private security. While these arguments remained disparate in both conceptual and normative sense, in the previous section we identified their common basis: the logic of the free market and the associated concept of private authority manifest in the Lockean state. In what follows, the discussion moves to consider the problem of an international authority within the global realm. The question that shall occupy us henceforth is, what role an international authority composed of states can play in two alternative structures of the global realm: a private global realm as opposed to a public global realm? This supposes the distinctions international/global and public/private that have been central to the present analysis. The notion of an international authority located inside a global public realm takes us back to the doctrine of Hobbesian internationalism outlined in Chapter 7. A Private Global Realm The model of a global private realm admits of two scenarios. One coincides with the idea of networks within an institutionalised system of global governance. Thus a set of macro-level international institutions that are loosely interconnected would be complemented by private and public networks of technocrats—bankers, but also governmental officials—on the meso level, and by micro-level transactions between private individuals. The task of such institutions and networks would be managerial control. Some patterns or ‘regimes’ will emerge but there will be no single, predominant order-generating institution such as a sovereign state, even though some ‘disassembled’ states would continue to function. If everything runs well, individual consumers might benefit from the increased efficiency of private enterprises compared to the sluggish performance of the state. And yet, it is doubtful whether this model is well adapted to protect rights, if we consider a typical case where ordinary individuals seek redress for rights violations from a powerful corporation. The more fundamental objection was articulated by Kant in The Metaphysics of Morals : It is that a person’s bodily integrity and status as a free thinking and choosing being constitute an ‘innate right to freedom’ that no other person or institution is entitled to infringe (MM VI: 237).2 This implies that some things ought not to be regarded as marketable goods and should not be governed by a principle of distribution based on cost-efficiency. They are not goods, but rights. For after all, the most efficient system of government (or governance) would
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be one where social conflict is eliminated by simply abolishing the rights of individuals. This leads us to a darker version of the first scenario. If networks motivated by profit and efficiency succeed in marginalising states as public authorities that guarantee at least some basic rights, a global state of nature would emerge subject to a market principle for distributing the provision of services, including protection services. It is unclear what kind of authority, if any, will have agenda-setting prerogatives inside such a world. It is similarly unclear how disputes among parties, including networks, will be adjudicated and enforced in the absence of an impartial umpire, for it is possible that one can purchase a right to break the rules and even a right to commit crime. This dystopia might be an exaggeration but it reveals the dangers of a global world that has been privatised all the way down. A second scenario is a global institutional structure that covers almost the entire world. If it is conceptualised as a private authority, its analogue would be Nozick’s dominant protection agency that allocates goods such as security on a market principle (Nozick 1974, 13). The problem is that only those who are able to pay, or more precisely those who have initial endowments enabling them to participate in a market exchange, would be included in the security arrangement (see Gauthier 1986). The rest would be left out in the cold. This is an important detail since the geographic scope of an institution does not necessarily coincide with the realm of its normative authority. Those who have no endowments may be physically present within the geographical space covered by the dominant protection agency, but the agency would not necessarily protect them from violence or fraud. The corollary is that by default a private authority does not protect everybody on its territory. It does not provide goods in the form of public goods (but only commodities), and it does not regulate the relations between agents on an omnilateral principle. In Nozick’s scheme, the dominant protection agency ends up protecting everybody because of its size (empirically), and because of a system of original rights that requires, in line with Nozick’s libertarian logic, any infringement of freedom to be compensated. The protection that Nozick’s independents receive is not due to them as a matter of equal right, which is the default position for a public authority.
A Global Public Realm: Back to Hobbesian Internationalism? In Chapter 7, ominilateralism was shown to be a constitutive feature of public authority. The state expounded in Hobbes’s and Kant’s political theory is a quintessential example of an omnilateral will since only this form of will, which takes into account the freedoms and rights of everyone, can be truly impartial in relation to any private subject whose conduct it claims to regulate. To be a public authority, the state must have a juridical structure because in this way competing claims can be adjudicated and enforced on principles of impartiality and omnilateralism. Law here is not understood as ‘policy’, a procedure that deploys resources in order to produce a desirable outcome. Law itself must be based on right in Kant’s sense of the term (MM VI: 230)—it must be impartial, omnilateral, and it must protect the rights of all the individuals subject to regulation by law, paradigmatically the citizens (see Chapter 7, Sect. 7.3). The careful reader may have noticed that the model of global private authority does not involve relations between states as juridical entities. Rather, it involves relations between firms, or states portrayed as privately operating entities. The trouble is that the model of the state as a public authority cannot simply be replicated on a global scale. Creating a global state may be impractical as well as ethically problematic. In contradistinction to the Hobbesian state which has an inside and an outside, a world state has no outside— it covers the entire globe. This all-encompassing state may seem better positioned to secure world peace as it would have to deal only with internal threats unlike the Hobbesian state which must simultaneously thwart internal and external threats posed by other states. But since its territorial extension would be vast, it is unlikely that conflicts will be suppressed. Indeed, they will simply reoccur inside its boundaries. This scenario for a global public realm then is pragmatically unappealing. But as we saw in Chapter 6, the project for a global state is objectionable on ethical grounds as well. Worries about institutional arrangements for ‘governing the globe’ were voiced by Michael Walzer (2004) echoing Kant’s fears about global despotism (PP VII: 367, Kant 1991, 113). Walzer argued that a super state would be particularly damaging to minority groups, as it would lack incentives to protect their special rights (2004, 176). But we might wonder whether it would be inclined to protect any human rights. After all, a super state may be run on a market principle, providing paid services, in which case the boundary between private and public authority would disappear.
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A related worry is that the procedure for constructing a global state may violate the rights of states, and not merely the rights of individuals living inside states. A global state is a structure that has absorbed a number of constituent states within its realm. At this juncture, we should recall the insight of Hobbesian internationalism, as a doctrine that connects Hobbes’s notion of a sovereign state to that of Kant’s republican confederation of free states. As Kant suggested, a free state cannot be coerced to exit the international state of nature and join a super state because it already has an internal rightful condition, which protects the freedoms and rights of its citizens (PP VIII: 355–356, Kant 1991, 104). There is no guarantee that a world state would protect freedom and rights, hence coercing a free state to become part of a world state would be wrong (Nardin 2017). This conclusion can be supported by a different argument that makes no reference to the internal constitution of a state. It is that a sovereign state has the status of a moral person (Cavallar 1999, 101; Flikschuh 2010, 480). So it would be morally wrong to force a state to become a member of an institution or an alliance, against its will. It must be up to a free state to decide. This reveals a dissonance between the idea of a Hobbesian state as a non-voluntary, coercive association, and the idea of an association of free states that is non-coercive. The implication for the structure of a global public realm consistent with Hobbesian internationalism is that it involves a complex institutional picture. It is inconsistent with a world state, since this option would obliterate the plurality of mutually independent states. But there is no reason to insist, with Kant—at least on the orthodox interpretation of his ideas—on an association comprising only republican states. This is an unrealistic expectation in light of the pervasive religious, social, and cultural differences which separate various communities and which are reflected in diverse state doctrines such as welfarism, socialism, or Sharia law (see Rawls 1999). As a result, the prospective structure of the global public realm will contain a set of different institutions. First, there will be a non-coercive association of free states or ‘republics’ in Kant’s language (PP VIII: 350–351, Kant 1991)—rule-of-law states committed to the value of freedom and rights. This institutional form promises to actualise the principle of publicness globally without itself being a super state. In Chapter 7 my reading suggested, contra to the orthodox interpretation, that Kant’s project for perpetual peace envisions not only a pacific league of republics (PP VIII: 354–357, Kant 1991, 102–105) but an additional group of states which, although lacking a republican constitution, respect the principles of trust
and non-aggression in their external relations (PP VIII: 343–347, Kant 1991, 93–97). Thus the congress of free states will be accompanied by an association, or multiple ones which, at least for the time being, espouse values other than freedom. As long as such associations are non-aggressive in their external relations and not excessively abusive internally, against their own members, there will be no reason for the league of free states to interfere in their affairs. Apart from that, there will be probably a looser set of institutions and even global networks dealing with particular issue areas such as climate change, proliferation, global health. Nothing requires constructing a global order with a homogenous institutional structure. Nonetheless, the confederation of free states would have to have a certain salience as an international authority in the global realm, if the latter is to retain its character of a public realm in accordance with the idea of publicness. Such a realm would be a normative domain that provides rules for the global state of nature. This is because by not forming a super state, the members of such a confederation, as a matter of principle, remain in the state of nature. But this is not a brute state of nature, it is what the normative theorists examined in Chapter 6 called a ‘modulated’ state of nature that includes laws of nature such as equity, respect, and non-revengefulness (Boucher 1990; Forsyth 1979, 208–209). It is conceivable that the international state of nature is governed by principles that regulate the relations between an international authority dedicated to freedom and rights, and outsiders— both individual states and associations of states committed to values other than freedom. These regulative principles, as mentioned, may include Hobbes’s laws of nature as well as rules of non-aggression and trust that Kant specified in the preliminary articles of perpetual peace (PP VIII: 343–347, Kant 1991, 93–97). Finally, Hobbesian internationalism alerts us to the importance of private contracts between states as public persons that were examined in the previous chapter. Such transactions constitute covenants of mutual trust in the international state of nature. They show that some modicum of morality is possible even under conditions of uncertainty, and that the state of nature is not an arena of brutal competition for power and security. But neither is it a free market where states have been replaced by private authorities operating according to principles of speed and efficiency. What needs to be acknowledged is that Hobbes understands freedom not in terms of a free market and property rights, but in terms of a condition of being a sovereign individual. The Hobbesian state, be it alone or as a member of an international authority composed of free states, is
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an artificial individual who possesses moral sovereignty over and above its legal sovereignty: This is the leitmotiv of Hobbesian internationalism. Such individuals coexist within an unregulated condition of interaction from which uncertainty and risk, Hobbes’s ‘state of war’, can never be completely expunged—this is the price we have to pay for enjoying freedom. Any attempt to secure a perfect order, a global coercive system of rules, may bring greater efficiency or well-being in its wake but it cannot make human persons or states free.
Notes 1. The following editions of Hobbes’s works have been used in this chapter: The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, edited by Ferdinand Tönnies (London: Frank Cass 1969, 2nd ed.) circulated in manuscript in 1640, originally published in 1650; the 1651 English translation of De Cive, translated from the second Latin edition of 1647, edited by Sterling P. Lamprecht (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1949) as De Cive or the Citizen; Leviathan, edited by C. B. Macpherson (London: Penguin 1968) containing the original 1651 ‘Head’ edition. The in-text abbreviations of these editions are as follow: The Elements is abbreviated as ‘E’, Leviathan as ‘L’, De Cive, as ‘DC. References to The Elements are cited by part, chapter, and article number. De Cive is cited by chapter and article only. Citations from Leviathan are given by chapter and page number as they appear in the 1968 edition, followed by the pagination of the original 1651 edition in square brackets. 2. The discussion of Kant’s works in this chapter is based on the following editions: The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), abbreviated as ‘MM ’ and Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795) abbreviated as ‘PP ’. The later is from the Hans Reiss edition of Kant’s Political Writings translated by H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 2nd ed.). In addition, references to the Prussian Academy edition of Kant’s works are provided where Perpetual Peace is volume VIII, and The Metapysics of Morals, Volume VI.
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A Abrahamsen, Rita, 175, 177, 178 Airaksinen, Timo, 112 anarchy Hobbesian anarchy, 3, 8, 10, 12, 14–16, 117, 119–122, 133, 139, 140, 159 international anarchy, 12, 14, 15, 111, 112, 119, 121, 122, 125, 127, 130, 132, 133, 139 Lockean anarchy, 9, 179. See also state of nature Angola, 177 Anscombe, G.E.M., 24–26 anticipation, 8, 10, 15, 92, 105, 116, 117, 119, 127. See also anticipatory violence anticipatory violence, 4, 49, 50, 70, 90, 92, 116, 118. See also anticipation Armitage, David, 8, 111 artifice, 28, 37, 39, 57, 66 author, 29, 32, 39, 59, 122. See also authorisation
authorisation, 5, 15, 29–33, 37–39, 145, 151, 174, 183. See also author; authority; sovereign authority civil authority (state authority), 3–5, 9, 10, 14, 23–29, 32 juridical authority, 3, 11, 21, 22, 39, 74, 142, 169, 179. See also author; authorisation; coercion; global authority; global private authority; global public authority; international authority; private authority; public authority; state B Barry, Brian, 56, 74, 75, 77, 78 Beitz, Charles, 115, 119, 123, 124, 130, 131 Bertman, Martin A., 112 Bohman, James, 152 Boucher, David, 8, 12, 112, 114, 115, 125, 126, 188
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 S. Lechner, Hobbesian Internationalism, International Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30693-9
Brown, Chris, 173 Brown, M.E., 154, 155 Bull, Hedley, 12, 114, 115, 128, 130, 133 Byrd, Sharon B., 152, 158
C Cavallar, Georg, 152, 187 civil authority, 3, 4, 9, 10. See also state civil right, 30, 32, 139–142, 152, 154, 158, 159, 182. See also right, Kantian Claassen, Rutger, 176 Coady, C.A.J., 176, 177 coercion, 8, 12, 22, 25–27, 106, 142, 145–147, 150–152, 156–159, 171. See also authority Cohen, Marshall, 119 competition, Hobbesian, 8, 11, 48–50, 61, 66, 68, 89, 92, 96, 116, 118, 120, 121, 122, 125, 133, 188. See also greed computation, 72, 87, 88, 91. See also reason contract, 4, 5, 9, 32, 33–35, 38, 78, 113, 131, 142, 148–151, 153, 156, 160, 161, 167, 170, 177, 178, 181, 182, 188. See also covenant cosmopolitan right, 140, 142, 148, 152, 154, 159. See also right, Kantian covenant, 8, 33–37, 45, 51, 55, 59, 74, 75, 79, 91, 100–102, 105, 106, 128, 151 covenant of mutual trust, 32, 93, 94, 104, 116, 140, 141, 159, 161, 188 political covenant, 78, 132. See also contract; social contract
D De Cive, 3, 7, 11, 14–16, 26, 29, 33, 34, 39, 40, 49, 61, 62, 65–76, 78–80, 83, 88, 90, 91, 96, 99, 102, 103, 106, 114, 117, 118, 125, 126, 133, 134, 189. See also Hobbes, Thomas De Corpore, 16, 61, 62, 65, 72, 79, 80, 87, 91, 106. See also Hobbes, Thomas De Homine, 65, 66, 80. See also Hobbes, Thomas Deigh, John, 74, 75, 77, 78, 88 deliberation (Hobbes), 25, 57, 99 diffidence, 11, 49–51, 61, 69, 89, 122. See also mistrust Doctrine of Right , 142. See also Kant, Immanuel Doyle, Michael W., 141, 152, 154, 155
E Edmundson, William A., 5 Eggers, Daniel, 7 egoism, 62, 124 The Elements , 3, 7, 11, 14–16, 26, 33, 39, 40, 45–57, 59–62, 65, 66, 68, 69, 71–73, 79, 80, 83–86, 88–90, 96, 99, 102, 104, 106, 114, 125, 126, 129, 134, 147, 162, 189. See also Hobbes, Thomas endeavour, 46, 71, 72, 84, 85, 102
F fear of death, 14, 47, 50, 51, 61, 91, 92, 94, 95, 104, 105, 113, 115, 130, 131, 147, 148 felicity, 96–98, 116 Flikschuh, Kartin, 143–145, 152, 155, 158, 159, 187
foedus pacificum, 140, 154, 155, 157. See also league of states, peaceful; perpetual peace foro externo, 59, 60, 104, 123, 143 foro interno, 59, 60, 104, 123, 143 Forsyth, Murray, 8, 114–119, 125, 126, 188 Foucault, Michel, 169–172 Fried, Charles, 36 G Gauss, Gerald F., 61 Gauthier, David, 92, 115, 122, 130, 131, 185 Gert, Bernard, 13, 72–74, 80, 88, 102 global authority, 6, 15, 121. See also authority global governance, 168, 169, 173, 177, 184 global private authority, 186. See also authority global private realm, 167, 168, 184 global public authority, 16, 168. See also authority global public realm, 16, 167, 168, 184, 186, 187. See also public realm global realm, 9, 168, 183, 184, 188. See also global private realm; global public realm global state, 112, 130–133, 185–187. See also super state; world republic; world state globalisation, 9, 14, 167–172, 183, 184 economic globalisation, 172 glory false glory, 47 vainglory, 15, 47, 49–51, 55, 61, 68–70, 79, 85, 90, 91, 96, 114 well-grounded glory, 47. See also pride Goldsmith, Maurice M., 33, 65
governmentality, 169–172 greed, 11, 67–70, 89, 90, 95, 120. See also competition, Hobbesian Grotius, Hugo, 129 Grover, Robinson A., 114, 132 Guyer, Paul, 144, 145, 150 Guzzini, Stefano, 119
H Habermas, Jurgen, 152, 158 Hampton, Jean, 122 Hardin, Russell, 93, 117 Hart, H.L.A., 5, 6, 14, 22, 24–26, 35–37, 40 Held, David, 167 Heller, Mark A., 131, 132, 134 Herbert, Gary B., 48, 62 Hobbesian internationalism, 3, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 140, 160, 161, 167, 168, 175, 184, 187–189. See also international authority Hobbesian state, 4, 5, 10, 11, 22, 27, 29, 30, 33, 37, 39, 92, 113, 115, 117, 119, 132, 140, 147, 151, 167, 168, 175, 179, 181–183, 186–188. See also state Hobbes, Thomas (works), 3–7, 8–17, 21, 22, 25–39, 45–62, 65–80, 83–106, 111–134, 139–144, 146– 148, 150–152, 159–162, 171, 172, 175, 180–183, 186–189. See also De Cive; De Corpore; De Homine; The Elements; Leviathan Höffe, Otfried, 152 Hohfeld, W.N., 5, 127 Hood, F.C., 30, 99, 100 Hruschka, Joachim, 152, 158 human nature, 14, 45, 47, 49, 50, 66, 70, 73, 83–85, 89–91, 97, 119, 120, 148
I Idea for Universal History, 152, 153. See also Kant, Immanuel innate right to freedom, 142, 143, 145, 148, 184 international anarchy, 12, 14, 15, 111, 119, 121, 122, 125, 127, 130, 132, 133, 139. See also anarchy international authority, 9, 12, 15, 133, 139–142, 151, 152, 156, 157, 159, 183, 184, 188. See also Hobbesian internationalism International Monetary Fund (IMF), 173, 174 international right, 9, 139, 140, 141, 142, 152–159, 163. See also right
J Jaede, Maximillian, 9, 114, 126, 131 Joseph, Jonathan, 169–171
K Kant, Immanuel (works), 4, 8–10, 12, 14, 15, 24, 40, 56, 62, 75, 93, 101, 132–134, 139–156, 157–163, 172, 180, 182–184, 186–189. See also Doctrine of Right; Idea for Universal History; Metaphysics of Morals; Perpetual Peace; Theory and Practice Kavka, Gregory S., 8, 55, 60, 62, 71, 93, 114–117, 122, 131 Kersting, Wolfgang, 150, 151 Kinsey, Christopher, 167 Kleingeld, Pauline, 152, 155, 158 Knight, Frank H., 51
L Laberge, Pierre, 154 Ladenson, Robert, 26–28, 40
law of nature, 38, 56, 57, 60, 71–73, 75, 77, 78, 80, 101, 125, 127–129, 182 fundamental law of nature, 54–56, 58, 74, 102, 103, 126. See also reason; right of nature; state of nature laws of nature, 8, 15, 45, 52, 59–62, 66, 67, 70, 71, 76–79, 83, 88, 101, 104–106, 112, 117, 118, 122–124, 188 hypothetical laws of nature, 54, 56, 58, 102 prudential laws of nature, 56, 58, 75, 126–129. See also state of nature league of states, peaceful, 12. See also foedus pacificum Leviathan, 3–5, 6, 7, 11, 14–16, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28–30, 32–34, 39, 40, 61, 62, 65, 72, 77–80, 83–91, 93, 95, 96, 98–106, 111, 117, 118, 123–126, 129, 133, 134, 143, 148, 151, 162, 181, 189. See also Hobbes, Thomas Lloyd, Sharon A., 7 Lockean state, 168, 179, 180–182, 184. See also state Locke, John, 4, 9, 27, 38, 101, 168, 179, 180, 182 Lott, Tommy L., 113, 114 Luhmann, Niklas, 170 Lutz-Bachmann, Matthias, 152
M Machiavelli, Niccolo, 119 Mack, Eric, 183 MacPherson, C.B., 16, 40, 61, 80, 89, 93, 106, 134, 162, 189 Malcolm, Noel, 8, 35, 80, 97, 101, 103, 113–115, 124–129, 134 Martinich, A.P., 13, 72
McNeilly, Francis S., 13, 46, 48, 49, 52, 62, 72, 77, 84, 89, 96, 97 Mearsheimer, John J., 120, 121 Metaphysics of Morals , 140–142, 146, 150, 152, 153, 156, 158, 182, 184. See also Kant, Immanuel minimal state, 9, 168, 179, 180, 183 mistrust, 11, 50, 55, 69, 89, 90, 92–95, 117, 120. See also diffidence Mitrany, David, 174 Morgenthau, Hans, 119–121, 127 multitude, 4, 5, 34, 53, 69, 74, 80, 100, 133, 155, 159, 183. See also social contract mutual protection associations (Nozick), 179 N Nagel, Thomas, 56, 60, 66, 74–76 Nardin, Terry, 145, 152, 159, 160, 171, 176, 187 neoliberalism, 170, 171, 173 networks, 9, 167, 171, 172, 178, 185 global networks, 171, 174, 177, 183, 188 governmental networks, 169, 174 Newey, Glen, 115 Nigeria, 177 normativism, 15, 112, 125, 129 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), 176 Nozick, Robert, 9, 22, 168, 179, 180, 185 O Oakeshott, Michael, 6, 7, 9, 11–13, 21, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 48, 49, 54, 56, 60, 68, 78, 83, 88, 89, 91, 93–95, 97, 100, 104, 105, 116 obligation
artificial obligation, 77, 79 legal obligation, 23, 127 moral obligation, 5, 13, 23, 27, 28, 75, 76, 80, 104, 153, 160 natural obligation, 76–78, 80 prudential obligation, 76. See also Taylor-Warrender thesis original contract, 33, 149, 151, 153. See also republican constitution; united general will P Perpetual Peace, 134, 139, 141, 152, 154–159, 189. See also Kant, Immanuel perpetual peace, 9, 152–154, 187, 188. See also foedus pacificum Pettit, Philip, 99, 100 political covenant, 78, 132. See also social contract pride, 11, 49, 58, 90, 93. See also glory; vainglory private authority, 9, 14, 167, 168, 179, 183–185, 188. See also authority; global private authority private security companies, 175, 178. See also private security firms private security firms, 178. See also private security companies private security industry, 175, 176. See also private security sector private security sector, 177. See also private security industry Prokhovnik, Raia, 7 protection agencies (Nozick), 179, 183, 185 prudence atheistic prudence, 76 prudence as a non-normative term (prudence and events), 91 prudence as a normative term (self-interest), 58, 76, 123
theistic prudence, 76. See also self-interest public authority, 4, 9, 16, 26, 31, 32, 60, 100, 147, 156, 167, 168, 171, 176, 178, 179, 181, 183, 185, 186. See also authority; global public authority; state public realm, 10, 22, 145, 151, 159, 160, 168, 177, 188. See also global public realm public safety, 22, 39, 113, 127. See also salus populi R race, Hobbesian, 7, 11, 14, 15, 48–50, 61, 62, 68, 90, 92, 96, 147, 170. See also state of nature, competition model, domestic state of nature Raphael, David Dachies, 7, 28, 30, 34, 38, 52, 54–56, 66, 72, 75–77, 144 ratiocination, 57, 72, 73. See also reason Rawls, John, 6, 152, 187 Raz, Joseph, 5, 23, 26–28, 40 realism, 6, 8, 119, 121, 123, 125, 127, 129, 133 reason linguistic reason, 7, 57, 60, 61, 86, 87, 91, 104 public reason, 61, 88, 104, 106 right reason, 56, 60, 61, 71–73, 88, 104, 118, 134. See also computation; law of nature; ratiocination republic, 140, 146, 150–152, 154–156, 158, 168, 187 republican constitution (Kant), 154, 187. See also original contract; united general will right of nature as a basket of rights, 53, 144
natural liberty, 12, 30, 31, 98, 100, 103, 126, 153 right to self-preservation, 31, 32, 38, 52, 53, 71, 74, 122, 127–129, 182. See also law of nature; laws of nature; state of nature right, Kantian definition of right, 145, 155 principle of right, 140, 141, 145, 152–154, 156, 159, 161 right as distinct from rights, 156. See also civil right; cosmopolitan right; international right rightful condition (Kant), 145, 146, 147, 153, 156, 187. See also state Ripstein, Arthur, 10, 26, 142–145, 148, 157, 163 Risse, Mathias, 169 Rosato, Sebastian, 155 Rosenberg, Justin, 170 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 4, 34, 67, 148, 149, 183 rule of law, 168 Russett, Bruce, 155 Russian Federation, 178 S salus populi, 31, 113. See also public safety Sartorius, Rolf, 40 Sassen, Saskia, 167, 170, 177 Schmidtz, David, 4, 27 Scholte, Jan Aart, 167, 169 self-interest, 58, 74, 76, 92, 93, 122, 124, 127, 129. See also prudence Shearer, David, 175, 177 Sierra Leone, 177, 178 signification, 85, 86, 99 Simmons, A. John, 5, 23, 24, 26–28, 37 Singer, Peter W., 167, 176 Skinner, Quentin, 13, 35, 182, 183
Slaughter, Anne-Marie, 167, 169, 174 Slomp, Gabriella, 7, 47 social contract (Hobbes), 5, 9, 33, 34, 38, 113, 131, 142, 148, 181. See also covenant, political covenant social contract (Kant), 4, 9, 142, 148–150. See also original contract Sorell, Tom, 7, 45, 60 sovereign, 5, 11, 12, 30–40, 60, 61, 75, 78, 80, 88, 96, 104, 113, 114, 116, 119, 120, 124, 127–129, 131–134, 140, 141, 149–151, 153, 155, 158–161, 167–169, 171–174, 181–184, 187, 188. See also authorisation sovereignty moral sovereignty, 161, 189 sovereignty by acquisition, 91, 96 sovereignty by institution, 91 sovereignty dilemma, 159 Spearin, Christopher, 178 Springborg, Patricia, 7 Sreedhar, Susanne, 151 state as a moral person, 12, 161, 187 as civil authority (state authority), 4, 9 as juridical authority, 3, 11, 21, 22, 39, 142, 169, 179 as rightful condition (Kant), 145, 147, 153, 156, 187. See also Hobbesian state; Lockean state state of nature competition model, domestic state of nature, 12, 112, 114, 115, 119, 122, 156, 160 formal description, 10 generic state of nature, 94 Hobbesian state of nature, Hobbes’s state of nature, 7, 8, 10, 15, 39, 92, 94, 117, 147, 181
infelicity model, 7, 11, 14, 15, 97, 98, 100, 147, 148, 181 international state of nature, 12, 112, 114, 117, 119, 122, 124, 125, 127, 128, 130, 140, 152, 154, 156, 160, 187, 188 internationalist model, 15, 112 passions account, 83, 89, 94, 95 prospective meaning, 10 realist model, 15, 119, 122, 125 relational view, 10, 148 retrospective meaning, 10 structural account, 95 substantive description, 10 uncertainty model, 7, 11, 15, 51, 83, 112, 115, 122, 127, 146, 147, 181, 188 world state model, 15, 130, 131. See also anarchy; law of nature; laws of nature; right of nature; unregulated realm; war of all against all state of nature competition model, domestic state of nature, 128 Strange, Susan, 173 Strauss, Leo, 13, 83, 88–93, 95 summum bonum, 95 summum malum, 95 super state, 130, 132, 152, 159–161, 186–188. See also global state; world state T Taylor, Alfred E., 56, 62, 74, 75. See also Taylor-Warrender thesis Taylor, Isaac, 175, 176, 178 Taylor-Warrender thesis, 62, 75. See also obligation Theory and Practice, 150, 152, 153, 157, 158. See also Kant, Immanuel Thompson, Grahame, 169, 172
Thucydides, 119, 122, 123 trust, 32, 36, 38, 55, 90, 92–94, 117, 154, 180, 187, 188. See also covenants, covenants of mutual trust Tuck, Richard, 33, 50, 65, 80, 100, 125, 128, 129, 148
U Ukraine, 178 united general will, 149, 151. See also original contract; republican constitution unregulated realm, 4, 45. See also state of nature unsociability, 15, 66–69
V vainglory, 15, 47, 49, 50, 51, 55, 61, 68–70, 79, 85, 90, 91, 96, 114. See also pride Virilio, Paul, 169
W Walzer, Michael, 119, 123, 124, 132, 178, 186 war of all against all, 8, 10, 66, 116, 117. See also state of nature Warrender, Howard, 13, 53, 59, 60, 62, 66, 74–80, 131. See also Taylor-Warrender thesis Watkins, John, 13, 56, 74–76 Weiler, Gershon, 115, 131 Wellman, Christopher Heath, 22 Westphal, Kenneth, 149, 150 Wight, Martin, 8, 111, 119–121 Williams, Howard, 150 Williams, Michael C., 114, 175, 177, 178 Willms, Bernard, 113 Wolff, Robert Paul, 4, 22–24, 26, 28 Wood, Allen W., 144, 150 world republic, 156. See also global state; super state; world state world state, 9, 11, 15, 124, 130, 131, 139, 152, 153, 155, 156, 158, 159, 161, 186, 187. See also global state; super state; world republic World Trade Organisation (WTO), 174