Hobbes: The Laws of Nature

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 82 (3-4):258-284 (2001)
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Abstract

Are Hobbes's laws of nature to be understood primarily as theorems of reason, or as commands of God, or as commands of the civil sovereign? Each of these accounts can be given textual support; each identifies a role that the laws may be thought to play. Examining the full range of textual references, discussing the place of the laws of nature in Hobbes's argument, and considering how the laws may be known, give strongest support to the first of the three accounts, that the laws are primarily rational precepts and only secondarily civil and divine commands.

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