Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law
342 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268103026 | February 2022
Hardcover | 9780268103019 | March 2018
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268103033 | March 2018
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268103040 | March 2018
Has Hobbesian moral and political theory been fundamentally misinterpreted by most of his readers? Since the criticism of John Bramhall, Hobbes has generally been regarded as advancing a moral and political theory that is antithetical to classical natural law theory. Kody W. Cooper challenges this traditional interpretation of Hobbes in Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law. Hobbes affirms two essential theses of classical natural law theory: the capacity of practical reason to grasp intelligible goods or reasons for action and the legally binding character of the practical requirements essential to the pursuit of human flourishing. Hobbes’s novel contribution lies principally in his formulation of a thin theory of the good. This book seeks to prove that Hobbes has more in common with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of natural law philosophy than has been recognized. According to Cooper, Hobbes affirms a realistic philosophy as well as biblical revelation as the ground of his philosophical-theological anthropology and his moral and civil science. In addition, Cooper contends that Hobbes's thought, although transformative in important ways, also has important structural continuities with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of practical reason, theology, social ontology, and law. What emerges from this study is a nuanced assessment of Hobbes’s place in the natural law tradition as a formulator of natural law liberalism. This book will appeal to political theorists and philosophers and be of particular interest to Hobbes scholars and natural law theorists.
Kody W. Cooper is assistant professor of political science and public service at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
"Kody Cooper’s reinterpretation of Hobbes is original and persuasive. It effectively upends most received opinions about Hobbes’s philosophy, political doctrines, relationship to preceding thought, and relevance to contemporary liberal democracies. This is a new and improved Hobbes—one sure to inspire new and improved inquiry into the natural law foundations of liberalism." —S. Adam Seagrave, University of Missouri
“Kody W. Cooper’s thesis is that Thomas Hobbes’s moral and civil philosophy sits squarely within the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of natural law theorizing. . . . His is that sort of ‘Empire Strikes Back’ book that . . . seeks to contain the damage of the rebel by recasting him as no rebel at all.” —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“Kody W. Cooper’s book, Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law, provides a clear, scholarly account of the relationship between Hobbes’s natural law and the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of the theory of good. A brilliantly lucid work of analysis, the book introduces Hobbes’s ideas and his concern throughout his life with the traditional natural law theory.” —Reading Religion
"Cooper has made an admirable contribution to understanding better what Hobbes intended, but also to the debates in modern legal and moral philosophy." —The Review of Politics