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Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau$
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John Plamenatz, Mark Philp, and Zbigniew Pelczynski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645060

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645060.001.0001

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Sovereign Authority and the Right of Resistance II

Sovereign Authority and the Right of Resistance II

(p.146) 10 Sovereign Authority and the Right of Resistance II
Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Mark Philp

Z. A. Pelczynski

Oxford University Press

The chapter examines the principles underlying Hobbes’s account of absolute sovereignty and our duty of obedience to it. Hobbes’s concerns about uncertainty generating controversy are over-stated, although he identifies a central problem for more complex systems. But there is a deeper problem for absolutism in Hobbes’s suggestion that we are obliged to keep the laws of nature when safe to do so, since that implies that obedience to the sovereign is also constrained by the laws of nature. This means that much turns on how we understand the nature of a final arbiter and his decisions.

Keywords:   Hobbes, stability, security, sovereignty, obedience, obligation, resistance

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