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Introduction to Political Philosophy - Lecture 12

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Lecture 12 - The Sovereign State: Hobbes, Leviathan

This is an introduction to the political views of Thomas Hobbes, which are often deemed paradoxical. On the one hand, Hobbes is a stern defender of political absolutism. The Hobbesian doctrine of sovereignty dictates complete monopoly of power within a given territory and over all institutions of civilian or ecclesiastical authority. On the other hand, Hobbes insists on the fundamental equality of human beings. He maintains that the state is a contract between individuals, that the sovereign owes his authority to the will of those he governs and is obliged to protect the interests of the governed by assuring civil peace and security. These ideas have been interpreted by some as indicative of liberal opposition to absolutism.

Prof. Steven B. Smith
PLSC 114 Introduction to Political Philosophy, Fall 2006
(Yale University: Open Yale)
Date accessed: 2008-12-29
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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