Obligation, Law, and Covenant I

Mark Philp and Z. A. Pelczynski

in Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199645060
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741616 | DOI:
Obligation, Law, and Covenant I

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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Hobbes is the first systematic attempt to explain how obligation and law are connected to man’s needs and interests. The central problem is to explain why men should keep covenants when they could gain by not doing so, while sustaining Hobbes’s view that obligations arise only from covenants. Hobbes sometimes implies that there can be no obligations in a state of nature, and some argue that obligations arise from laws of nature conceived as commands of God. A further issue is whether there is anything moral about Hobbes’s view of obligation?

Keywords: Hobbes; law; obligation; consent; covenant; duty; right; Warrender; God; reciprocity; state of nature; war; trust; egoism

Chapter.  9498 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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