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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 40, 2008

Philosophy of Law

Veit-Justus Rollmann
Pages 195-203

Rechtskraft als Friedensbedingung –Thomas Hobbes rechtsphilosophischer Ansatz in seiner Schrift Vom Bürger

Purpose of this paper is to show, that within the Hobbesian Philosophy of law and state the establishment of legal force can be considered to be a conditio sine qua non for a persistent state of peace. In this regard legal force is to be understood not only as a power able to legislate but also to guarantee the abidance of the law by means of coercive power. As a result of this point of view on legal force as a necessary condition for peace and security, arises furthermore the concept of legal force as condition of culture. This paper traces the central claims of Thomas Hobbes’ highly influential theory of the origination of state and law pointed out in the first chapters of De Cive, a writing that is part of Hobbes Elements of Philosophy. To this aforementioned theory belongs the Hobbesian conception of the so called state of nature as a legal vacuum and a status of absolute freedom of every individual. Furthermore the war of everyone against everyone as a consequence of this absence of legal force and finally the subjects comprehension in the uselessness of absolute freedom which leads to war and instead of this the decision to abandon specific rights and to subrogate those rights to an elected sovereign. The decision to leave the state of nature and hence war and search peace instead which is granted by the legislative and executive power of the sovereign is according to Hobbes the ultimate dictate of reason. Additionally to the first chapters of De Cive I refer to some passages of Hobbes chief work Leviathan.

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