Hobbes on Resistance

Defying the Leviathan

Hobbes on Resistance

Hobbes's political theory has traditionally been taken to be an endorsement of state power and a prescription for unconditional obedience to the sovereign's will. In this book, Susanne Sreedhar develops a novel interpretation of Hobbes's theory of political obligation and explores important cases where Hobbes claims that subjects have a right to disobey and resist state power, even when their lives are not directly threatened. Drawing attention to this broader set of rights, her comprehensive analysis of Hobbes's account of political disobedience reveals a unified and coherent theory of resistance that has previously gone unnoticed and undefended. Her book will appeal to all who are interested in the nature and limits of political authority, the right of self-defense, the right of revolution, and the modern origins of these issues.


'This is an excellent book on centrally important - but often neglected - aspects of Hobbes' political and moral theories. It is powerfully argued and lucidly expressed. Written with verve and humor, it is great fun to read, and deserves a wide audience.' Johann Sommerville, University of Wisconsin-Madison

'Sreedhar offers a thought-provoking, textually sensitive and plausible discussion of such central topics as liberty, authorization and absolutism, explaining the mutual relationships of these ideas in Hobbes's system. Clearly written and accessibly argued, this book will be of interest to philosophers, political scientists, intellectual historians and scholars of social theory alike.' Sharon Lloyd, University of Southern California

Reference Type: notes

Hobbes can be understood as asking, “With what right, with what possible authority, could anyone require a fellow creature not to try to preserve itself?” (“Hobbes and the Irrationality of Politics,” Political Theory 17, no. 3 [1989], 385)

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