I am reading a paper on Hobbes interpretation of patriarchy, which says hobbes patriarchy is non paternal, i.e. he proposes a patriarchal right that is different from paternal right? What is the exact difference between the two?

1 Answer 1


Well, it sounds like you are reading a paper on exactly this topic, so I imagine you already have the answer ready-to-hand.

In any event, for Hobbes, nature (or natural law) endows the Mother with authority over the family, and he argues that it is a social contract that shifts this authority to the Father as "sovereign".

Thus, for him, patriarchy is contingent upon human decisions, and is not properly a paternal right (i.e., natural to the father.) This puts him at odds with other supporters of patriarchy who argue precisely this.

  • OK, so a paternal right is a natural right that a father has due to his fatherhood, and according to Hobbes this is not the same as patriarchy, which is imposed by women on themselves. Am I right?
    – user1577
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 14:45
  • 2
    Almost. Patriarchy is imposed (for Hobbes) by a social contract, whereby men, women and children agree that the women and children will be subservient to the man, for the sake of security and peace (much as subjects do with a sovereign.) Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 15:15

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