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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hobbes was one of a number of early modern theorists who argued that sovereigns possess absolute power over their subjects and who especially favored absolute monarchy. Hobbes is often portrayed as a strikingly original thinker. This chapter compares and contrasts his absolutist political theory with the ideas of other early modern theorists. It surveys Hobbes’s views on absolute and indivisible sovereignty; on the origins and nature of government and the powers of fathers and sovereigns; on moral theory, justice, equity, and property; on religious authority and church–state relations; and on resistance and self-defense. The chapter concludes that on many matters Hobbes’s thinking was not so far removed from that of other absolutists but that he diverged markedly from them on questions of religion and self-defense.

Keywords: absolutism, church and state, patriarchy, religious authority, sovereignty

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