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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 5 - Motivation, Reason, and the Good in On the Citizen


In On the Citizen, Hobbes depends on the claim that right reason is a part of human nature. Right reason figures in definitions there of natural right and natural law, and Hobbes depends upon the fact that we each possess right reason in arguing that each of us can know the laws of nature. The theories of motivation, reason, and the good in On the Citizen share a great deal with their counterparts in the Elements of Law and Leviathan. In this respect, though, On the Citizen stands out. Hobbes does not depend upon right reason in a similar way in either of these other texts: in the Elements of Law he claims that right reason is “not existent,” and in Leviathan he contends that we lack a “right reason constituted by nature.” This essay describes Hobbes's accounts of motivation, reason, and the good in On the Citizen; documents this distinguishing feature of the text; and offers reasons for the conclusion that Hobbes's account of right reason there is not sincere.