Initial Theory of Sovereignty

David P. Gauthier

in The Logic of Leviathan

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

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This chapter indicates a departure from the usual interpretation of Thomas Hobbes's political theory. Although there are differences between the presentation of the theory in Leviathan and the presentation in Hobbes's earlier political writings, little significance has been attached to them. The chapter examines Hobbes's initial theory, focusing upon those weaknesses that are at least partially overcome by the alterations in Leviathan. It includes a discussion of what Hobbes terms ‘sovereignty by acquisition’, since this is adequately explained only by the initial theory and fits uncomfortably into the framework of the later system. Before turning to the details, however, the chapter establishes one crucial distinction that Hobbes never sufficiently develops in any presentation of his political theory: the distinction between sovereign right and sovereign power.

Keywords: Thomas Hobbes; political theory; Leviathan; sovereignty; sovereign right; sovereign power; sovereignty by acquisition

Chapter.  7639 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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