Lecture 2 - Hobbes: Authority, Human Rights and Social Order

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 3509
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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An examination of Hobbes's lifetime reveals that the uncertainty of the British monarchy during his life (1588-1679) inspires Hobbes's social and political thought, especially regarding the role of the sovereign to provide for the security of his subjects. We consider the major elements of Hobbes's political and social thought including the state of nature, equality of men, the social contract, the strong sovereign, and legitimate rule. Hobbes's work privileges security of individuals through a strong sovereign but also asserts the right of subjects to transfer their allegiance to a new sovereign if the ruler does not provide for their security; this element of his work in particular and others made him a controversial thinker who was forced into exile for a time. His work has been rediscovered in recent years by economists and other social scientists who see him as the first rational choice theorist.

Reading assignment:

Hobbes, Leviathan

- Chapter 6-7, pp. 118-134
- Chapter 11, pp. 160-168
- Chapter 13-14, pp. 183-201
- Chapter 17, pp. 223-228
- Chapter 30, pp. 376-394

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