Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Natural Law for a Lawless People

Adam J. MacLeod reviews Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law, by Kody Cooper, at Public Discourse.

"Tyranny has no attraction when compared with the rule of law. But when everyone does what is right in his own eyes, tyranny often appears more attractive than anarchy. And it seems more morally justified. Life and peace are worth preserving. If a strong sovereign is necessary to preserve them, people may conclude that a strong sovereign is called for.

"This is a natural law argument for lawless people. It’s not new, of course. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes expressed it powerfully during the chaotic and frequently lawless seventeenth century. A recent book by Kody Cooper, Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law, offers a sympathetic interpretation of Hobbes’s works. He makes what is perhaps the strongest possible case that Hobbes was a natural lawyer, like Cicero and Aquinas, whose theory of legal and political power is ultimately grounded in the common good. Though the argument for relocating Hobbes among natural law theorists fails (not for lack of capable effort by Cooper), the book helps clarify why many people find the case for a leviathan persuasive."

See Hobbes, Leviathan, at Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 23, Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 21.

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