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Hobbes on Teleology and Reason

Abstract

Starting from considering how radical Hobbes' rejection of teleology was, this paper presents a coherent reading of Hobbesian reason, as applied to the justification of political obligation, striking a more perspicuous third way between the ‘orthodox’ (based on self‐interest and consequentialism) and the ‘revisionist’ (moralizing, or variously substantive) readings. Both families of interpretations are partial to some elements of Hobbes' thought, therefore incapable of providing a coherent reading of its whole. A precise rendering of Hobbes' deontological reason allows a better hermeneutical understanding of his philosophy as well as a keener appreciation of its relevance for past and present political thought.

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