By Charles Covell (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230000630

ISBN-13: 9780230000636

ISBN-10: 1349414417

ISBN-13: 9781349414413

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Sample text

These constraints came in the form of the civil laws prescribed by the sovereign power, and with the regulation of conduct through such laws there was set the basis for the liberty specific to the subjects of commonwealths as opposed to the liberty which belonged to men by nature. The liberty specific to subjects was, for Hobbes, real and substantial, and he pointed to it as consisting in matters where legal regulation was omitted by the sovereign power in commonwealths. So, for example, there was the freedom of subjects to buy and sell and to enter into contractual relations with one another, together with the freedom to choose their place of domicile, their form of work and the condition of their family life.

Again, there was the liberty that belonged to men as subjects of commonwealths through the silence of the laws. Here, however, the liberty of subjects was, as Hobbes emphasized, contingent on the legislative will of the sovereign, but without this implying anything by way of guaranteed exemption from legal constraints and limitations. So, likewise, the rights and liberties that subjects held under law, and that they were entitled to enforce against the sovereign, remained rights and liberties that were defined in their substance through laws which it fell to the sovereign power to determine.

For, as Hobbes presented the matter, the sovereign power in commonwealths stood as a construct which was established and validated through law. He likewise presented the rights of sovereignty as including those, such as the right of law-making, the right of adjudication and the rights to do with executive functions, which concerned the determining and enforcement of law as the basis for the regulation of the subjects of commonwealths. Beyond this, the rule of law was something that, for Hobbes, lay at the foundations of the form of association specific to commonwealths as subject to a sovereign power.

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Hobbes, Realism and the Tradition of International Law by Charles Covell (auth.)


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