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Durham e-Theses
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Hobbes's Moral Factualism: Reason, Facts, and Intentions

O'NEILL, THOMAS (2016) Hobbes's Moral Factualism: Reason, Facts, and Intentions. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Hobbes's Moral Factualism) - Accepted Version


This thesis answers the question: what is Hobbes’s moral theory? Two dominant interpretations have answered this question on previous attempts. First, the orthodox account, which argues that Hobbes’s subjective theory of the good makes for a subjective moral theory; second, the dissent interpretation, which argues that Hobbes’s objective moral theory is underpinned by an objective theory of the good. In both cases, authors believe that one’s moral theory is necessarily linked to one’s theory of the good. I disagree and argue in defence of a Hobbesian subjective theory of the good and an objective moral theory. Hobbes thought morality depends on objective facts instead of objective values, which makes for a moral factualist reading.
The moral laws are the laws of nature, which aim for nature’s preservation. The orthodox argue that those laws of nature apply only to those who desire their preservation. I argue that the laws of nature indeed depend on desires, however, they are categorically obligatory still. Morality namely depends on the universal ability to desire and the fact that all people do desire some thing. One does not need to value one’s preservation in itself; rather, because all desire some thing, one’s preservation becomes an analytical necessity: one ought to stay alive to enjoy whatever it is one values.
As such, the objects of one’s desires remain subjective, as do one’s judgments of those objects; yet, given all desire, all will need to survive. The laws of nature apply to all.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Hobbes, Laws of nature, Moral factualism, Moral realism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 08:31

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