The Right to Punish in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan

Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (2):233-254 (2014)
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There is an apparent ambiguity in Thomas Hobbes’s account in Leviathan1 of the source of the sovereign’s right to punish. Hobbes appears to both claim and deny that the prospective sovereign is granted the right to punish by prospective subjects. In claiming that the sovereign is granted the right to punish, we understand Hobbes to hold that the acquisition of the right follows from authorization—a process by which a representative is commissioned to act on the behalf of another person. In denying that the sovereign is granted the right to punish, we understand Hobbes to hold that the possession of the right is merely the product of the mass relinquishment of natural rights; the prospective sovereign alone does ..



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Arthur Yates
University of Western Ontario

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Hobbes on the power to punish.Mariana Kuhn de Oliveira - 2023 - History of European Ideas 49 (6):959-971.
Hobbesian resistance and the law of nature.Samuel Mansell - forthcoming - Intellectual History Review.

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