The Significance of Hobbes’s Political Philosophy for the Development of Concept of Human Rights

Phainomena 70 ()

The article demonstrates the ambivalent role of Hobbes’s political philosophy concerning the development of concept of human rights. In the first glance, in accordance with the most widespread picture of Hobbes as a defender of absolutism, only the collision between his philosophy and human rights is possible since Hobbes explicitly denies that citizens have genuine rights of their own. On the other hand also the »jusnaturalistic« lecture of his political philosophy is known, focused on the series of natural laws which Hobbes introduces in Leviathan. In this sense the obligation to obedience to the social contract should be based on the moral duty properly so called and not on the interest of the contractor, due to which the contract was made. It will be shown that »jusnaturalistic« lecture of Hobbes is unfounded since, on account of theorem of unlimited authorisation of sovereign, the effects of natural law on social coexistence within civil state is a priori excluded. Hobbes’s contribution to the development of concept of human rights is not in the introduction of natural laws. It is in his successful escape out of situation in which, after the decline of Christianity, the political morality was tangled in. Despite of the unlimited authorisation of the state power, the core of his philosophy, the capacity of the man to his self-assurance of coexistence, had abolished the absolutism in the future and as well made possible the upswing of political liberalism and human rights.
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