Political Science – Leviathan

 Read Hobbes. Leviathan, ed. E.M. Curley (Hackett) “All states, all dominions that have held and do hold empire over men have been and are either republics or principalities.” Machiavelli, The Prince, tr. Mansfield, Chapter One. By this Machiavelli means that all known states up to his time have been ruled either by one person or by more than one, with the “more than one” in the case of republics ranging from relatively few (in oligarchic republics) to relatively many (in democratic ones). But then along comes Hobbes and hatches the Leviathan, a new model for those “dominions…that hold empire over men.” In Machiavelli’s terms, is the Leviathan state an example of a republic or a monarchy? This is primarily a question about Hobbes, not Machiavelli, so you can just accept Machiavelli’s implicit definitions of republics and principalities as stated above and focus on applying them to the Leviathan. It is not a question about which form of government Hobbes preferred, as we all know the answer to that: a monarchy, in which sovereignty is wielded by a single individual rather than by an assembly. We will assume Hobbes’s best case scenario: it’s about the monarchic Leviathan that you’re to consider whether it is an example of a Machiavellian principality (rule by one) or a Machiavellian republic (rule by more than one). So what is Leviathan, that king over all the children of pride? Principality? Republic? Both? Neither? You must pick a side and defend it. If you argue that Leviathan is either a principality or a republic, you must explain why the case for its being the other of the two is unconvincing. If you argue that Leviathan is both or neither, you must explain why it’s not simply one or the other.

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