Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (6):767-779 (2006)

In this article I argue that Jacques Derrida is correct in holding that the law is always an authorized force but that he is mistaken in suggesting that its ultimate font or origin (what he calls the ‘mystical foundation of authority’) is an originary or ‘foundationalional’ act of violence. I suggest that Derrida and, more recently, Jens Bartelson fall prey to a curious, one-sided narrow view of ‘foundationalism’ and contrast their overly ‘architecturalized’ image of the ‘foundation’ of authority with the foundationalism of Thomas Hobbes which is, I shall argue, architectural only as and when appropriate. I also suggest that Hobbes helps us to see that the state, strictly speaking, does not ‘have’ or ‘exercise’ authority but that it is, rather, the font or source of the authority wielded by its (empirical) government. Key Words: Jens Bartelson • Jacques Derrida • Thomas Hobbes • justice • Immanuel Kant • law • Michel de Montaigne • Blaise Pascal • violence.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453706066980
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The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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