Thomas Hobbes’s Changing Account of Liberty and Challenge to Republicanism

ROBIN DOUGLASS
HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT 36.2 (2015): 281-309

Abstract: This article traces the main changes to Thomas Hobbes’s account of liberty between the Elements of Law and Leviathan in order to reevaluate his challenge to republican ideas of liberty. It contests Quentin Skinner’s recent interpretation while advancing two interrelated theses. First, it argues that between these works Hobbes attempted, but ultimately failed, to reconcile two different conceptions of liberty. Second, it shows that the changes to Hobbes’s account of liberty were not driven by his engagement with republican debates. The article concludes by indicating how the analysis challenges prominent historical narratives about republicanism set forth by its contemporary exponents.