Thomas Hobbes: The Political Theorist of Equality Restricted; Files Only

Shoucair, Dominic (Fall 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/cv43nx828?locale=en
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Abstract

The goal of this thesis is to represent the work of Thomas Hobbes in a light of equality contrary to the polemics and criticisms of tyranny he has hitherto endured. In this thesis I provide a close re-examination of the legal and political-philosophical theory of Hobbes from this lens of equality. While Leviathan is the main work examined in this thesis, I also delve into Hobbes’ other works such as De Cive, A Dialogue between a Philosopher and a Student, of the Common Laws of England, and The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. This thesis is comprised of three main chapters. In the first chapter, I investigate the natural equality between human beings , as presented by Hobbes, in the natural state. I also discuss the natural laws and Hobbes’ novelty and ingenuity by juxtaposing his theory against former and contemporary theories such as those of Plato, Aristotle, Phillipe Duplessis-Mornay, among others. In the second chapter, I transition from the natural to the political state and discuss the most pivotal factor in demonstrating an equality in Hobbes’ political theory –– the sovereign power. I also demonstrate that, while one may expect the equality between men to dissipate because of artificial inequalities, this is not so for the equality remains, albeit in a different form. Instead of presenting the sovereign as a tyrannical despot, I present Hobbes’ sovereign as the impetus for maintaining such an equality between men in the political state. Similarly to the first chapter, this chapter also utilizes comparisons between Hobbes and former and contemporary theorists in order to demonstrate his unique approach to sovereign power as a means to political and legal equality. Finally, after the foundation has been set, I discuss court practices and the civil laws in Hobbes’ political for this is where the interaction between sovereign and subject is most intense. This is all done with the aim to present Hobbes as a theorist of natural, political, and legal equality –– in other words, as a political theorist of total equality. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction.......................................................................................................2

Chapter 1: A State of Natural Equality...............................................................13

I. Chapter Introduction......................................................................................13

II. Human Nature...............................................................................................17

III. The Natural Laws..........................................................................................25

IV. Hobbes’ Novelty in Comparison with Former and Contemporary Theories..35

Chapter 2: A Political State of Equality...............................................................49

I. Chapter Introduction........................................................................................49

II. The Generation of the Political State...............................................................49

III. The Sovereign Power — The Guarantor of Equality........................................59

IV. The Different Forms of the Commonwealth....................................................77

V. The Rights and Liberties of Subjects.................................................................87

Chapter 3: The Laws and Their Execution............................................................93

I. Chapter Introduction.........................................................................................93

II. Civil Laws..........................................................................................................94

III. Good Laws.......................................................................................................95

IV. Natural and Civil Laws....................................................................................102

V. Inequality of Court Practices and the Execution of Laws.................................105

Conclusion............................................................................................................112

Bibliography..........................................................................................................117 

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