Article

Sovereignty

Daniel Philpott

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199238804.003.0032

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Sovereignty

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Sovereignty has borne too many conflicting meanings over the centuries. Nevertheless, there arguably exists a definition of sovereignty that is flexible enough to accommodate much of the concept's historical diversity yet concrete enough to be meaningful: supreme authority within a territory. Authority—“the right to command and correlatively, the right to be obeyed,” in Robert Paul Wolff's definition—implies that sovereignty is a matter of right or legitimacy, not one of mere power. But authority alone does not specify sovereignty; plenty of holders of authority exist who do not have sovereignty. Another ingredient is crucial: supremacy. The holder of sovereignty's authority is highest and may not be questioned or opposed. Supremacy was stressed by sovereignty's first modern articulators, sixteenth-century French philosopher Jean Bodin and seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and has been reflected widely by users of the concept ever since. A final ingredient is territoriality. This is the principle that defines the set of people who live under the holder of sovereignty, or the supreme authority.

Keywords: Jean Bodin; Thomas Hobbes; sovereignty; authority; supremacy; territoriality

Article.  5776 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.