THE STATE OF NO NATURE – THOMAS HOBBES AND THE NATURAL WORLD
Published: 1 Jun 2014
Abstract: Thomas Hobbes was one of the first modern political philosophers, and his approach to politics is still influential. Hobbes’s philosophy is humanistic, and I examine how the natural world is treated in Hobbes’s Leviathan (1946). While Hobbes may seem to be the antithesis to animal rights and environmentalism, I argue that this view is unfounded. Hobbes describes man and animal as fundamentally equal, and this equality is more important than Hobbes makes it. If we acknowledge the natural rights of animals, we could imagine a social contract in which animals are parties to the contract, represented by curators or guardians. This approach has some limitations, and I argue that exploring "environmentalism as self-interest" is more promising. I show how Hobbes prepares the argument for long-term perspectives, introduce some elementary evidence of the dangers of environmentally unsound policies, and then develop a Hobbesian argument for environmentalism.
Keywords: thomas hobbes, social contract, animal rights, environmentalism, deep ecology
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