Hobbes: Patriarch of Legal Positivism, or Reinventor of Natural Law?
The University of Sydney Law School
August 18, 2012
THE BLOOMSBURY COMPANION TO HOBBES, S.A. Lloyd, ed., London: Continuum Press, 2012
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/75
In this brief entry for the Bloomsbury Companion to Hobbes, I argue that the dilemma posed in the title about Hobbes is a false one: he is both an important and inspirational figure in the legal positivist tradition and makes a novel contribution to natural law theory. But understanding how this is so requires a more complex taxonomy of the possible views one can take about law, both concerning what it is and how we know it. I argue that while Hobbes was a natural law theorist about the existence conditions of law, he was a positivist about how we come by knowledge of the law. His 'epistemic' positivism is what primarily inspired later positivists, and is an underappreciated view in contemporary jurisprudence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: Hobbes, jurisprudence, legal positivism, natural law, law, obligation
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Date posted: August 19, 2012 ; Last revised: October 4, 2012