Thomas Hobbes: Writings on Common Law and Hereditary Right

Paperback | April 17, 2008

EditorAlan Cromartie, Quentin Skinner

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This volume in the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes contains A dialogue between a philosopher and a student, of the common laws of England, edited by Alan Cromartie, supplemented by the important fragment on the issue of regal succession, 'Questions relative to HereditaryRight', discovered and edited by Quentin Skinner. The former work is the last of Hobbes's major political writings. As a critique of common law by a great philosopher, it should be essential reading for anybody interested in English political thought or legal theory. Although it was written when Hobbes was at least eighty, it is a lively piece ofwork that goes beyond a recapitulation of earlier Hobbesian doctrines, not least in applying his central ideas to the details of the English constitution. This edition supplies the extensive annotation on matters of legal and historical detail that is required by non-specialist readers; it alsoassists students by offering cross-references to other treatises. Cromartie's introduction is an authoritative account of seventeenth-century thinking about the common law and of Hobbes's shifting attitudes towards it. It has often been suspected that the book was motivated by fear of being burnedfor heresy. Cromartie disentangles the complex evidence (scattered across a number of late works) that documents this fear's development, and shows why the philosopher's acute anxieties eventually led him to write a legal treatise. In clarifying these questions, the edition casts fresh light uponhis attitude to law and sovereignty. The second piece takes the form of a question put to Hobbes about the right of succession under hereditary monarchies, together with Hobbes's response. The question is in the handwriting of the fourth Earl of Devonshire, the son of the third Earl, whom Hobbes had tutored in the 1630s. He asks Hobbeswhether an heir can be excluded if he is incapable of protecting his prospective subjects. The question of 'exclusion' became the most burning issue in English politics in the course of 1679, when a bill to exclude the future James II was introduced into the House of Commons. Hobbes answers with arobust defence of hereditary right, in the course of which he also makes some important general observations about the concept of a right. The manuscript is also of special interest as it constitutes Hobbes's last word on politics. It was almost certainly written in the summer of 1679, less than sixmonths before Hobbes's death.

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This volume in the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes contains A dialogue between a philosopher and a student, of the common laws of England, edited by Alan Cromartie, supplemented by the important fragment on the issue of regal succession, 'Questions relative to HereditaryRight', discovered and edited by Quentin Skinner. ...

Alan Cromartie is Director of Research in the Department of Politics at the University of Reading. quentin Skinner is Regius Professor in the History Faculty at the University of Cambridge.

other books by Alan Cromartie

Format:PaperbackDimensions:263 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.55 inPublished:April 17, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199236232

ISBN - 13:9780199236237

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Table of Contents

A Dialogue between a Phylosopher and a Student, of the Common-Laws of EnglandGeneral IntroductionTextual IntroductionTextBibliographyQuestions relative to Hereditary RightTextual IntroductionHistorical IntroductionTextBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition We are greatly in Cromartie's and Skinner's debts for the quality of their editing work on these texts and their historically rich introductions that supply the intellectual, political, and personal context for their composition.'Mark Murphy, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews