What the Sovereign Can't Do
Hobbes Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 191-198, 2014
11 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2014 Last revised: 11 Sep 2014
Date Written: July 2, 2014
One of the central claims of Larry May’s Limiting Leviathan (Oxford University Press, 2013) is that Hobbes’s theory of law is best understood as a kind of “procedural natural law” theory akin to the one developed by Lon Fuller in the mid-twentieth century. May’s interpretation of Hobbes suggests at least two different views of the role of equity as a constraint on legal validity; neither of them bears any important affinities with Fuller’s theory. May however makes a stronger case that Hobbes and Fuller share broadly similar views about how and why citizens have an obligation to obey the law; the affinities between the two are therefore found in their theories of political obligation rather than in their theories of law.
Keywords: Hobbes, jurisprudence, philosophy of law, authority, sovereignty, legal positivism, Lon Fuller
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation