The State of Nature in De Cive

  • Silviya LechnerEmail author
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


This chapter continues the analysis of Hobbes’s state of nature by focussing on De Cive (1647/1651). Its central thesis is that even though De Cive modifies the earlier set of arguments for a state of nature from The Elements, Hobbes’s conclusions are broadly consistent with the early work. Three modifications are notable. The first is the new principle of natural unsociability. The second is the radicalised image of the state of war, which becomes a ‘war of all against all’. The third, and most important one, is the increased normative significance of the laws of nature compared with the perfunctory treatment of the right of nature. This priority of law over right calls for an explanation. Accordingly, the final two sections of the present chapter will examine the relation between the right of nature and the laws of nature, and the normativity of the laws of nature (their obligatoriness, and their basis in reason) at the background of classic interpretations of De Cive by Howard Warrender, David Daiches Raphael, and Thomas Nagel.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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