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Rousseau and HobbesNature, Free Will, and the Passions$
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Robin Douglass

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724964.001.0001

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Sovereignty and Law

Sovereignty and Law

(p.104) 3 Sovereignty and Law
Rousseau and Hobbes

Robin Douglass

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses the extent to which Rousseau’s account of the social order was aimed at overcoming problems of a fundamentally Hobbesian nature. While revealing some of his affinities with Hobbes, it argues that much of Rousseau’s political thought was set out against both Hobbes and Hobbes’s critics in the natural law tradition. Rousseau considered that his predecessors had offered only illegitimate justifications of the social order, which involved the alienation of man’s freedom. The chapter shows how Rousseau sought to preserve freedom in the social order by radically inverting the Hobbesian account of sovereignty and directing it towards republican conclusions, while maintaining that all citizens freely will the general will. It further argues that, to distance himself from the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau thought that a legitimate social order must be in accordance with nature as a regulative normative standard.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, free will, freedom, sovereignty, social contract, nature, natural law, general will

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