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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2018

Arash Abizadeh
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
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Summary

This chapter frames Hobbes’s ethics against the background of the history of ethics, on the one hand, and recent work on normativity and reasons, on the other. On the ancient Greek conception of ethics, all practical reasons derive from one’s own ultimate good. The modern conception, by contrast, took the form of a juridical code of laws and obligations that in principle could conflict with one’s own good. The basis for this shift had been laid by classical natural-law theory, rooted in the Stoics, Cicero, and Aquinas. But the decisive break occurred with the emergence of an intrinsically normative and juridical notion of obligation in Grotius and Hobbes—juridical in that the obligation is owed to others with standing to hold one accountable. Hobbes transformed obligation and natural law by taking the radical step of severing obligation from natural sociability and juridical obligation from natural law. He was also at the forefront of attempts to reconcile ethics with the emerging mechanistic sciences. This chapter establishes the book’s conceptual framework by showing how contemporary distinctions between normative, explanatory, and motivational reasons, reasoning, rationality as a source of precepts, and the balance of normative reasons map onto Hobbes’s vocabulary and thought.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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  • Introduction
  • Arash Abizadeh, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics
  • Online publication: 18 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108277310.002
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  • Introduction
  • Arash Abizadeh, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics
  • Online publication: 18 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108277310.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Arash Abizadeh, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics
  • Online publication: 18 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108277310.002
Available formats
×