Moral Theory

David P. Gauthier

in The Logic of Leviathan

Published in print October 1979 | ISBN: 9780198246169
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191680939 | DOI:
                   Moral Theory

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy


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This chapter states that Thomas Hobbes writes on morals as a moralist. His primary aim is to demonstrate what men ought, and ought not, to do. In pursuing this aim, Hobbes introduces, and explains, certain moral concepts, of which the most important are right of nature, law of nature, obligation, and justice. However, his interest is in using these concepts in moral conclusions, not in explicating them. When the contemporary moral philosopher turns to Hobbes, however, his concern is with the concepts themselves, rather than the conclusions in which they appear. He wants to analyse moral terms, not draw moral conclusions. This shift of interest is entirely legitimate, but it is not always sufficiently noticed. The chapter further claims that, according to Hobbes, moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good and evil in the conversation and society of mankind.

Keywords: Thomas Hobbes; morals; law; nature; obligation; justice; good; evil; moral philosophy

Chapter.  26088 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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