chapter  5
Hobbes on evil
WithLaurens van Apeldoorn
Pages 13

Thomas Hobbes is best-known as one of the preeminent theorists of the modern state. In his political writings he defends obedience to undivided and absolute sovereignty as the only solution to human conflict and war, arguing that only if the civil sovereign has overwhelming power to bend the will of each citizen can a catastrophe be avoided. This chapter provides an overview organized primarily around two of those moments. First, Hobbes tries to undermine the traditional natural law position that identifies God’s command as an independent standard to which the civil sovereign can be held to account. Second, Hobbes develops a necessitarian and materialist metaphysics that rules out the existence of free will and commits him to maintaining that God is the cause of all evil in the world. The chapter show that Hobbes conceives of morality, or natural law, as principles dictating the means to avoid the greatest natural evil – death.