Hobbes and Locke on authority G.A.J. ROGERS Introduction The commitment to contract theories of the state clearly lies at the centre of much of the similarity between the political philosophies of Hobbes and Locke. Equally obviously they are importantly different. Here I shall consider their similarities and differences with regard to the nature and grounding of authority. I will sug- gest that differences between them provide insight into the varying roles played within their theories by religion and in particular its connection with their the- ories of autonomy. I begin with some of the features of Hobbes's theory. I then turn to Locke and make comparisons between the two. I finish with some brief and by no means definitive consideration of the implications of these similarities and differences for our understanding of their overall positions. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines authority as the 'power or right to en- force obedience'. The definition captures an ambiguity in our concept of auth- ority which is important for the accounts of both Hobbes and Locke. How far authority may be unpacked in terms of power alone, and how much it owes to the notion of a right are important questions for
Hobbes Studies – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1997
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