Hobbes and Macroethics: The Theory of Peace and Natural Justice

  • Howard Warrender
Part of the Archives Internationales D’histoire des Idées/International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 111)


In commemorating the tercentenary of Hobbes’s death we are prompted to the reflection that there are few of the classic authors in political philosophy who have stood so well the test of time in maintaining their relevance to the continuing political scene. And indeed the mid-twentieth century has been more generous than most of its predecessors in recognizing the importance to be attached to his works. A great deal more debate can arise, nevertheless, if we enquire more precisely what in Hobbes’s doctrine is still relevant and why. In this paper I attempt some answer to this question. I am concerned to advance Hobbes’s claim to have contributed to what I have called the field of macroethics, and consider in particular two of the principal items of that contribution, his theory of peace and his theory of natural justice.1


Civil Society Moral Obligation Political Obligation Natural Justice Restricted Circle 
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  1. 1(a).
    A number of points raised, particularly in the first part of this paper, I have discussed more adequately elsewhere. See: Howard Warrender The Political Philosophy of Hobbes (Oxford, 1957);Google Scholar
  2. 1(b).
    Howard Warrender ‘The Place of God in Hobbes’s Philosophy’, Political Studies Vol. VIII (1960), pp. 48–57;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 1(c).
    Howard Warrender ‘Obligations and Rights in Hobbes’, Philosophy Vol. XXXVII (1962), pp. 352–357;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 1(d).
    Howard Warrender ‘Hobbes’s Conception of Morality’ Rivista Critica di Storia delta Filosofia Vol. XVII(1962), pp. 434–449;Google Scholar
  5. 1(e).
    Howard Warrender The Study of Politics (Belfast, 1963);Google Scholar
  6. 1(f).
    Howard Warrender ‘A Postcript on Hobbes and Kant’, Hobbes-Forschungen (Berlin, 1969), pp. 153–158. (Cited hereafter as Warrender (a), (b), etc.)Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    A great deal of Warrender (a) is concerned with the general role of natural law in Hobbes’s theory (esp. sections IV, V, VII, pp. 213–219, 274–275, 308–311, 322–329).Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    Warrender (a) 323–329; 3(d) 436–439.Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    Warrender (a) 307–311, 323–329; (b) 49–56. I indicate that if God were eliminated from Hobbes’s system, he would lose a certain formal analogy between civil law as command of the sovereign, and natural law as command of God; but this is a relatively minor point and would leave Hobbes’s main system unaffected.Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    Warrender (d) 443–449; (e) sect. IV.Google Scholar
  11. 6a.
    See A.E. Taylor ‘The ethical Doctrine of Hobbes’, Philosophy Vol. XIII (1938), pp. 406–24;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 6b.
    also S.P. Lamprecht ‘Hobbes and Hobbism’, American Political Science Review Vol. XXXIV (1940), pp. 31–53, and his Introduction to Thomas Hobbes: De Cive or The Citizen (New York, 1949). Both authors in this period were exceptional in drawing attention to moralistic aspects of Hobbes’s doctrine.Google Scholar
  13. 7.
    Warrender (a) 335–337; (f) 153–158.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    I have discussed contracts in Hobbes, particularly in the State of Nature, in considerable detail in (a) III, X.Google Scholar
  15. 9.
    Warrender (a) II, III; (d) 437–441.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Kluwer Academic Publishers), Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard Warrender
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldUK

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