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This chapter theorizes that sovereignty is the interplay of two contrasting modalities. In Idealized Sovereignty, sovereign authority is represented exclusively in “the state” per the doctrine of indivisibility developed by early modern theorists and reified in IR theory. In Lived Sovereignty, achieving sovereign competence involves divisible practices of state and nonstate actors in a variety of social relations. We would do a disservice to sovereignty’s complexity if only one of the two modes persevered in analyses of sovereignty. Instead, the chapter intervenes in major IR debates to argue that sovereignty should be hybridized. This overarching framework guides the ideal-types of public/private hybridity developed in the next chapter and the empirical analyses in the remainder of this book, where hybrid sovereignty is necessary to build a global empire, go to war, regulate global markets, and protect rights.
This chapter examines pitfalls in current methodological approaches to studying secular apocalyptic thought and proposes an alternative. Over a half-century ago, Judith Shklar and Hans Blumenberg argued that secular apocalyptic thought is an unhelpful and vague concept, which too often functions as a rhetorical weapon. Their critiques largely have been neglected. I make the case for taking these critiques seriously and suggest a strategy to address them: the study of secular apocalyptic thought should focus on examples where secular thinkers explicitly reference religious apocalyptic texts, figures, and concepts so as to avoid making spurious connections and reading into texts influences that are not there.
The close of the book offers a brief overview of its arguments and revisits the parable that opens the study. It also considers a parable from the apocalyptic tradition, the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31–46, and offers an interpretation to highlight its potential wisdom for ideal theory. On this interpretation, the parable serves as a subtle reminder of the virtue found in pairing utopian hope with epistemic humility.
The book opens with a parable to introduce three central figures in the chapters to come – Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Engels – and their approaches to apocalyptic thought. It then defines key concepts and gives an overview of the three main arguments advanced in Apocalypse without God. The first argument is methodological: the study of secular apocalyptic thought would place itself on firmer ground by focusing on cases where secular thinkers explicitly reference religious apocalyptic texts, figures, and concepts. The second argument is interpretive: apocalyptic thought’s political appeal partly lies in offering resources to navigate persistent challenges that arise in ideal theory, which tries to imagine the best and most just society. And the third argument is normative: ideal theory and apocalyptic thought both rest on faith and are best suited to be sources of utopian hope, but not guides for collective action by a society.
This chapter examines how Hobbes tempers apocalyptic thought to advance his political philosophy. What troubles Hobbes about such thought is its potential to spur continuous upheaval. Apocalyptic thought anticipates perfection – a divine kingdom that will wipe away corruption. The failure to realize utopian hopes breeds endless dissatisfaction, disruption, and instability in politics. But rather than abandon apocalyptic ideals, Hobbes co-opts them. Specifically, he reinterprets the doctrine of the kingdom of God to make it safe for politics. He arrives at an interpretation that denies, at present, all claims to represent God’s kingdom by prophets and sects challenging the sovereign’s authority. For now, the kingdom of God can only take one form – what Hobbes calls the natural kingdom of God. Importantly, the Leviathan-state is a manifestation of the natural kingdom of God. By identifying God’s kingdom with the Leviathan-state, Hobbes transforms a Christian doctrine used to justify rebellion into one bolstering the sovereign’s authority.
Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end. Apocalyptic fears grip even the nonreligious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. As these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs – often dismissed as bizarre – to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part because it theorizes a relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, offering resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which involves imagining the best, most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of utopian hope. This title is available as open access on Cambridge Core.
This chapter develops a selective genealogy of the concept of publicity as it appears throughout the history of political thought, beginning with Plato and ending with Henry Sidgwick. Beyond its intrinsic interest, there is instrumental value to tracing a genealogy of publicity. Two benefits stand out in particular. First, by looking to what the giants of the past had to say about transparency in government, we find a greater diversity of positions than we currently see. Some flatly reject openness in government, embracing opacity in its place. And second, looking to the past shows how the concept of publicity can take on many different forms. Sometimes it refers to being offered justifications for the laws one lives under, sometimes it means that persons must have access to the philosophical theories inspiring the political systems they inhabit, sometimes it is used as a kind of test to probe the morality of public policies, sometimes it means that persons should be able to carefully monitor what public officials are up to, and so on.
Like Hobbes, Spinoza portrays the social order as arising out of a state of nature in which people aren’t constrained by laws, in which we may do whatever we can do, and in which our natural egoism makes life insecure and wretched. Unlike Hobbes, Spinoza thinks right is coextensive with power even in civil society, not only in the state of nature. Spinoza’s best argument for this arguably relies on two assumptions: if there were a natural law constraining our behavior, it would have to be based on a divine command; but God cannot be a lawgiver; prescriptive laws assume that the commanded can disobey; and no one can disobey an omnipotent being. Although Spinoza takes right to be based on power, he denies that sovereigns have a right to rule just as they please. Like Machiavelli and Hobbes, he is conscious of the fragility of political power. Even if the sovereign’s right is theoretically absolute, individuals are roughly equal in power; so any sovereign must depend on having at his command a group of people who will obey his enforcement commands without being coerced. Like Machiavelli, he prefers forms of government in which this de facto constraint is institutionalized.
Spinoza developed a method of biblical interpretation which has guided most scholars ever since. It requires an understanding of the scriptural languages, a comparison of different discussions of the same topic (not assuming that Scripture, as the word of God, must be consistent), and an account of the authorship, date, circumstances, and transmission of each book. Renaissance humanists like Erasmus had anticipated some of his method, but Spinoza was more systematic and bolder: not only did Moses not write the Pentateuch, many of the traditional assumptions about the authorship of biblical books were mistaken. A late editor, working on now lost mss. of earlier histories, had compiled them. Spinoza writes mainly about the Hebrew Bible, but also draws challenging conclusions about the New Testament: the apostles didn’t write with prophetic authority; James was right (against Paul) to emphasize works over faith. He also suggests that the apostles probably wrote in Aramaic, so that the Greek text is a translation of a lost original. Like Erasmus, he emphasizes the moral teachings of Scripture and avoids philosophical speculations, of which the doctrine of original sin is probably the most important example. His advocacy of theological minimalism furthered the cause of religious liberty.
The emergence of the English state in the 16th and 17th centuries was underwritten by two rival legal vocabularies: royal prerogative and the common law. These opened the two avenues through which successive Tudor and Stuart rulers tried to integrate the landowning nobility and the merchant elites in support of the crown’s policies. Each vocabulary had its biases. Prerogative powers were articulated by civilians whose Roman law training made them almost automatic supporters of absolutism. Common lawyers, by contrast, stressed the inviolability of the rights of property against the extractions of the king. Both idioms had their view also on the law of nations. Civilians focused on diplomacy and the rules of war and peace while common lawyers understood property as a natural right to wage commerce across the world. Sometimes the vocabularies came together as a specific lex mercatoria. A series of legal cases in the 17th century juxtaposed sovereignty and property rights in a way that inspired Thomas Hobbes to produce his powerful theory of the commonwealth as a protection/obedience pact in which all property rights were dependent on the decision of the sovereign.
According to Hobbes, individuals care about their relative standing in a way that shapes their social interactions. To model this aspect of Hobbesian psychology, this paper supposes that agents have social preferences, that is, preferences about their comparative resource holdings. Introducing uncertainty regarding the social preferences of others unleashes a process of trust-unravelling, ultimately leading to Hobbes’s ‘state of war’. This Trust-unravelling Model incorporates important features of Hobbes’s argument that past models ignore.
This chapter studies Hobbes’s use of common language not only in his attacks on the “insignificant speech” of the scholastics but also in the definitions of his own philosophy. Thomas Hobbes was a careful observer of linguistic usage, appealing often to “what we are used to say.” But he does not accept “common usage” in any simple way. Like so many of his contemporaries, Hobbes was ambivalent about common language. As a move in his polemical invectives against scholastic language, Hobbes chose the side of “the people” who used language in a “natural” and “common” way. But common language also reflected patterns of thinking that Hobbes found deeply disturbing. Since for Hobbes everything hinges on the right understanding of words and well-explained definitions, he often claims to have common language at his side, yet we also find him subtly redefining terms to match his own philosophical views. The chapter explores Hobbes’s balancing act of revising ordinary language while playing down the revising act itself. In the last section the chapter suggests that the revision of common usage is part of Hobbes’s wider tactic to persuade the people that his civil science comes close to what every reasonable person should endorse.
How does violence during civil war shape citizens' demand for state-provided security, especially in settings where non-state actors compete with the state for citizens' loyalties? This article draws on Hobbesian theory to argue that in post-conflict countries, citizens who were more severely victimized by wartime violence should substitute away from localized authorities and towards centralized ones, especially the state. The author tests the theory by combining two original surveys with existing media and non-governmental organization data on wartime violence in Liberia. The study shows that citizens who were more severely affected by violence during the Liberian civil war are more likely to demand state-provided security, both in absolute terms and relative to non-state alternatives. More sporadic collective violence in the post-conflict period does not reverse this substitution effect. Also consistent with Hobbesian theory, citizens who were more severely victimized are more fearful of threats to peace almost a decade later.
Political philosophers have long drawn explicitly or implicitly on claims about the ways in which human behaviour is shaped by interactions within society. These claims have usually been based on introspection, anecdotes or casual empiricism, but recent empirical research has informed a number of early views about human nature. We focus here on five components of such views: (1) what motivates human beings; (2) what constraints our natural and social environments impose upon us; (3) what kind of society emerges as a result; (4) what constitutes a fulfilling life; and (5) what collective solutions can improve the outcome. We examine social contract theory as developed by some early influential political philosophers (Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau), who viewed the social contract as a device to compare the ‘natural’ state of humans with their behaviour in society. We examine their views in the light of recent cross-cultural empirical research in the evolutionary social sciences. We conclude that social contract theorists severely underestimated human behavioural complexity in societies lacking formal institutions. Had these theorists been more informed about the structure and function of social arrangements in small-scale societies, they might have significantly altered their views about the design and enforcement of social contracts.
The texts in Part Three of the volume reveal Montesquieu’s moral idealism and life-long concern with ethics. He was clearly a moral theorist as well as a political philosopher. In his In Praise of Sincerity (1717) he stresses the importance of providing moral guidance to one’s friends by speaking to them honestly regarding their shortcomings. In his Treatise on Duties (1725) Montesquieu stresses the need, recognized by the Stoics and by Cicero, to observe human duties and attacks Thomas Hobbes by asserting contra Hobbes that there are absolutes of justice traceable to nature and attacks Baruch Spinoza by proclaiming that the world was created by design, not “blind fate.” In his Consideration and Reputation (1725) he observes that we crave the esteem of our friends even more than we desire birth, wealth, positions, and honors, and yet we neglect “probity, good faith, and modesty,” because these traits are undervalued by our friends. In his Discourse on the Equity that Must Determine Judgments and the Execution of Laws (1725) Montesquieu asserts that the “essential virtue” for a judicial magistrate is “justice, a quality without which he is but a monster in society.”
A number of Montesquieu's lesser-known discourses, dissertations and dialogues are made available to a wider audience, for the first time fully translated and annotated in English. The views they incorporate on politics, economics, science, and religion shed light on the overall development of his political and moral thought. They enable us better to understand not just Montesquieu's importance as a political philosopher studying forms of government, but also his stature as a moral philosopher, seeking to remind us of our duties while injecting deeper moral concerns into politics and international relations. They reveal that Montesquieu's vision for the future was remarkably clear: more science and less superstition; greater understanding of our moral duties; enhanced concern for justice, increased emphasis on moral principles in the conduct of domestic and international politics; toleration of conflicting religious viewpoints; commerce over war, and liberty over despotism as the proper goals for mankind.
The chapter presents respective views of Hobbes and Leibniz on the issue of universals and human cognition. This chapter represents a bridge between the chapter on space and the chapter on law. Hobbesian nominalism rejecting any universals but names can only be fully appreciated against his views on space, materiality of which emerges form the materiality of bodies. This focus on materiality determining his nominalism also defines his view of human cognition where truth is simply an able use of language. Leibniz’s space as a logical grounding, as an order of relationships determines his belief in the existence of universals as well as his insistence on the capacity of human mind to access eternal truths. Thus, if for Hobbes the main question becomes how to control discourse, for Leibniz the central issue is articulation of ways to discover and thus know eternal truths.
Two main themes of the disicipline of international law, namley its theory of subjects of international law and the concept of sources of international law form the core of this chapter. Respective views of Hobbes and Leibniz on these two themes are analysed and compared. The continuing influence of Hobbesian and Leibnizian ideas on these two topics is also analysed. It is argued that the theory of subjects of international law with the central role of the state and the objective definitional approach to the concept of the state is fundamentally Hobbesian. The concept of sources of international law appears at the surface more Leibnizian. However, the Leibnizian heritage was striped of its foundation and thus distorted. As a result, international law in its contemporary articulation is an oxymoron. The trasformative future of international law lies in a rethinking of its normativity away from its Hobbesian heritage. However, to be sucessful, such a rethinking should be grounded in a reflection on possible alternative spatial-conceptual foundations one of which is offered by Leibniz.
Summarising the main arguments of the book, the conclusions also put into relief the importance of spatial-conceptual approach to the study of international law. If from the Hobbesian perspective international order is not really law, Leibnizian concept of normativity grounded in the cognitive dimension underpined by the relational space as a logical grounding pushes international scholars to think the regulation at the global level in more divrse ways. However, the cognitive dimension of normativity remains yet to be fully explored.