Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/5284
Title: Hobbes and Rawls on Political Power
Authors: Grcic, Joseph
Keywords: HobbesRawlssocial contract
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Joseph Grcic, "Hobbes and Rawls on Political Power", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, IX (2007) 2, pp. 371-392.
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
IX (2007) 2
Abstract: 
The social contract tradition of political legitimacy has a long and complex history. John
Rawls believed himself to be working in this tradition of Locke, Rousseau and Kant, but
not that of Hobbes whose Leviathan, he remarks, “raises special problems.” Rawls never
specifies what these problems are but there are indeed very serious problems with
Hobbes’ political theory. I argue that Hobbes’ theory is an ideology fashioned in a chaotic
social environment where self-preservation was precarious at best. His theory is based on
his belief that there were only two alternatives for political order given the human
condition as he saw it at the time, chaos or absolute power. This false dichotomy was one
that Rawls and most other theorists did not accept. Hobbes' theory conflicts with Rawls'
conception of rights, the purpose of government, and the nature of the person. Hobbes'
theory is a form of ethical foundationalism and is what Rawls calls a comprehensive
doctrine unacceptable in Rawls' political liberalism.
Type: Article
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/5284
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2007) IX/2

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