Two key arguments of Hobbes' in his Leviathan seem to be the ideas of "state of nature" and "social contract."

If I am correct in my interpretation, it seems that once a commonwealth is formed by a social contract, the political community (i.e., state) then proceeds to issue certain commands or prohibitions for the "common good."

How did Hobbes interpret the common good? Also, did Rousseau differ from Hobbes in his thoughts on the common good?

  • 1
    The common good according to Hobbes is the satisfaction of desires. jstor.org/stable/43155041 Rousseau is very similar but more developed, talks very directly about the fact that different individuals' desires may oppose and cancel out but the common good is the sum result of taking each individuals desires into account. Rousseau is cited a bunch here: plato.stanford.edu/entries/common-good
    – Brian Z
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 18:19
  • @BrianZ Many thanks for the links. Unfortunately, I don't have a JSTOR account. Would you know of another way of accessing the article you cite?
    – DDS
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 20:39
  • @BrianZ Would the "common good" be some sort of collective desires?
    – DDS
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 20:40
  • "Collective desires" sort of, but Hobbes and Rousseau are both pretty individualistic so "collective" might give the wrong impression.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 22:11
  • The common good shouldn't have helpful info be paywalled.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 23:34

1 Answer 1

  1. The common good = salus publica = common welfare is the superior principle, the souverain has to follow in his political decision, see Chapter 30 of Leviathan following the keyword Salus populi.

    The concept has already been used by Cicero.

    Unfortunately I do not know from Hobbes’ writing a precise definition of the content. I assume that justice is part of Hobbes understanding of salus publica. But I do not know to which degree Hobbes refers to Aristotle’s concept of justice as a virtue. I am a bit sceptical that to foucs on “desires” hits the main point, as @BrianZ comments.

  2. There are differences between Hobbes and Rousseau in their anthropologies. If you can read German see Thomas Hobbes und Jean-Jacques Rousseau . But I do not know if their anthropological differences are relevant for their interpretation of the concept of the common good.

  • Vielen Dank für Ihre Antwort und für den hilfreichen Link.
    – DDS
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 15:22
  • @DDS I can send you Bertram's paper, referred to by BrianZ, on request.
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Dec 17, 2023 at 10:51
  • Thank you for your kindness; however, I have discovered that the college I live near has access to the Southwestern Journal of Philosophy---so, I should be able to get the article there. Besides, I have some books I want to return to them this week. Thanks again.
    – DDS
    Commented Dec 17, 2023 at 17:15

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