Special Issue "Contemporary Significance of Thomas Hobbes' Political Philosophy"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2022) | Viewed by 5588

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Henrik Skaug Sætra
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Business, Languages and Social Sciences, Østfold University College, 1757 Halden, Norway
Interests: Thomas Hobbes; social contract theory; game theory; technology; artificial intelligence; social robots; sustainability; environmental ethics
Dr. Harald Borgebund
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Business, Languages and Social Sciences, Østfold University College, Halden 1757, Norway.
Interests: liberal political theory; democratic theory; social contract theory; democratic education

Special Issue Information

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) is one of the most prominent philosophers in the history of political theory and philosophy. Controversial in his own time, he has been both revered and reviled ever since. Hobbes’s contemporary relevance is the topic of this Special Issue, as we invite researchers from different fields in the social sciences and humanities to explore and examine to what extent Hobbes’s philosophy can be used to understand a broad range of contemporary issues.

Hobbes was concerned with social order and political legitimacy. Using the metaphor of a social contract, Hobbes highlighted one way to establish political legitimacy. He lived in a time of great conflict, and he is perhaps most famous for his systematic approach to political philosophy, which led him to prefer the rule of few and to emphasize that the sovereign must have absolute authority to be able to provide security and order. While he acknowledged that a sovereign with absolute power is not ideal, he argued that the downsides are less weighty than the downsides of limited power prone to produce instability and conflict. Hobbes’ use of a contract as his mechanism for the legitimate transfer of rights and power underscores that ideas of representation and responsibility are important parts of his philosophy. For example, he discussed in detail how the social contract allows the sovereign to act as a representative of the individual citizens, with the possibility that a citizen is acted upon with his own authority.

These are just some of the few significant aspects of Hobbes’s political philosophy. Some of the key issues to be explored regarding Hobbes’s contemporary relevance relate to broad and general issues, such as human nature, the nature of liberty, power, conflict, coordination, mutual advantage, and cooperation. Furthermore, the social contract and contractarianism, the nature of political power and legitimacy, representation, and forms of government are highly relevant; not least in debates related to the virtues and vices of democracy, as we currently see democracy challenged in several ways in many parts of the world. Hobbes’s philosophy is not limited to the analysis of political systems, and we encourage novel and creative contributions that explore how Hobbes’s general or political philosophy can foster improved understandings of issues related to sustainability and new technologies.

Many possible topics are mentioned above and the following is a list of possible topics for the Special Issue:

  • Hobbesian explanations of the current challenges to democracy
  • Issues of social justice
  • Environmental issues and sustainability
  • New technologies and societal and individual impacts
  • Contractualism and contractarianism
  • Political and moral obligations
  • Individualist understandings of society and human nature
  • The reasonable and the rational
  • The sovereignty of the state versus the strength of the state
  • The role of the Sovereign
  • Pandemics and other global emergencies seemingly difficult to solve with a system of sovereign states

Prof. Henrik Skaug Sætra
Prof. Harald Borgebund
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Hobbes
  • social contract
  • sovereignty
  • democracy
  • individualism
  • human nature
  • moral philosophy
  • obligations
  • contractarianism
  • the state

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Article
A Hobbesian Argument for World Government
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030066 - 15 Jun 2022
Viewed by 1353
Abstract
The legitimacy of government is often linked to its ability to maintain order and secure peace. Thomas Hobbes’ political philosophy provides a clear description of why government is necessary, as human nature and the structures emerging out of human social interaction are such [...] Read more.
The legitimacy of government is often linked to its ability to maintain order and secure peace. Thomas Hobbes’ political philosophy provides a clear description of why government is necessary, as human nature and the structures emerging out of human social interaction are such that order and peace will not naturally emerge to a sufficient degree. Hobbes’ general argument is often accepted at the national level, but in this article, I explore why a Hobbesian argument for the international level—an argument for world government—is deducible from his philosophy. Hobbes builds his philosophy on his conception of human nature and argues that individuals’ interests and preferences should be the determinant for evaluating the value of a political entity. By emphasising these aspects of Hobbes’ theory, I argue that several contemporary phenomena suggest that a world government could be preferable to the states system. The cases used are the outbreak of war in Europe in 2022 and the continuing and accelerating environmental crisis. Through this examination, the continued relevance of Hobbes’ political philosophy is demonstrated, and according to Hobbes’ own logic, those who accept the argument should also seek to implement such a solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Significance of Thomas Hobbes' Political Philosophy)
Article
Hobbes and Spinoza on Sovereign Education
Philosophies 2022, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7010006 - 08 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1701
Abstract
Most comparisons of Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza focus on the difference in understanding of natural right. We argue that Hobbes also places more weight on a rudimentary and exclusive education of the public by the state. We show that the difference is [...] Read more.
Most comparisons of Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza focus on the difference in understanding of natural right. We argue that Hobbes also places more weight on a rudimentary and exclusive education of the public by the state. We show that the difference is related to deeper disagreements over the prospect of Enlightenment. Hobbes is more sanguine than Spinoza about using the state to make people rational. Spinoza considers misguided an overemphasis on publicly educating everyone out of superstition—public education is important, but modes of superstition may remain and must be offset by institutions and a civil religion. The differences are confirmed by Spinoza’s interest in the philosopher who stands apart and whose flourishing may be protected, but not simply brought about, by rudimentary public education. Spinoza’s openness to a wisdom-loving elite in a democracy also sets up an interesting parallel with Thomas Jefferson’s own commitment to the natural aristocracy needed to sustain republicanism. In demonstrating the 17th century philosopher’s skepticism toward using the state exclusively to promote rationality, even as he recognizes the importance of a sovereign pedagogical role and the protection of philosophy, we move to suggest that Spinoza is relevant to contemporary debates about public education and may reinvigorate moral and political discourse in a liberal democracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Significance of Thomas Hobbes' Political Philosophy)
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