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Sovereignty's PromiseThe State as Fiduciary$
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Evan Fox-Decent

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698318.001.0001

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Prologue: Hobbes and Legal Order

Prologue: Hobbes and Legal Order

(p.1) Prologue: Hobbes and Legal Order
Sovereignty's Promise

Evan Fox-Decent

Oxford University Press

The book begins with Dr. Bonham’s Case to give a brief and historical illustration of how the common law has placed constraints on the use of public power. The Prologue then uses Hobbes to show how a disregard for the demands of legality reduces exercises of authority to exercises of mere coercive power. I argue that Hobbes’ conception of public authority rests on principles of legality and the idea that the sovereign and the people are in a reciprocal relationship with one another. The relationship is mediated by a presumption of trust rather than consent, and it is reciprocal in the sense that if the sovereign violates the principles of legality, he subverts his authority and the people’s correlative obligation to obey.

Keywords:   Hobbes, legality, sovereignty, rule of law, legal order, laws of nature, social contract, fiduciary, authority

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