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Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics


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  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108417297

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About the Authors
  • Reading Hobbes in light of both the history of ethics and the conceptual apparatus developed in recent work on normativity, this book challenges received interpretations of Hobbes and his historical significance. Arash Abizadeh uncovers the fundamental distinction underwriting Hobbes's ethics: between prudential reasons of the good, articulated via natural laws prescribing the means of self-preservation, and reasons of the right or justice, comprising contractual obligations for which we are accountable to others. He shows how Hobbes's distinction marks a watershed in the transition from the ancient Greek to the modern conception of ethics, and demonstrates the relevance of Hobbes's thought to current debates about normativity, reasons, and responsibility. His book will interest Hobbes scholars, historians of ethics, moral philosophers, and political theorists.

    • Reads Hobbes in light of recent work on normativity, reasons, and responsibility
    • Shows Hobbes to be a watershed in the transition to the modern, juridical conception of ethics
    • Is the only book extensively to treat Hobbes's metaethics
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    • Co-winner, 2019 CPA Biennial Book Prize, The Canadian Philosophical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Path-breaking and tremendously insightful, Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics reveals how Hobbes revolutionized ethical theory by sharply distinguishing reasons of the right from reasons of the good. Bold yet rigorous, wide-ranging and meticulous, this superb monograph is destined to become a landmark study of Hobbes's philosophy. Required reading for anyone interested in Hobbes and the development of modern ethics and meta-ethics.' Johan Olsthoorn, University of Amsterdam

    'This reading is powerful, and convincing … the book must be judged a success, and an impressive one - saying something new about Hobbes is not easy, and saying it this convincingly is even more exceptional … rewarding book.' Paul Sagar, Hobbes Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108417297
    • length: 298 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Metaethics of Reasons:
    1. Naturalism
    2. Mind, action, and reasoning
    Part II. Reasons of the Good
    3. Subjectivism, instrumentalism, and prudentialism about reasons
    4. A theory of the good: felicity by anticipatory pleasure
    Part III. Reasons of the Right:
    5. Accountability and obligations
    6. The laws of nature, morality, and justice
    7. Rational agency and personhood
    Conclusion: naturalism and normativity.

  • Author

    Arash Abizadeh, McGill University, Montréal
    Arash Abizadeh (M.Phil. Oxford, Ph.D. Harvard) is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and Associate Member of the Department of Philosophy at McGill University, Montréal. He has published extensively on Hobbes in journals including the Journal of the History of Philosophy, The Historical Journal, Philosophers' Imprint and Modern Intellectual History.


    • Co-winner, 2019 CPA Biennial Book Prize, The Canadian Philosophical Association

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