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Leviathan on a LeashA Theory of State Responsibility$
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Sean Fleming

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691206462

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691206462.001.0001

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Hobbes and the Personality of the State

Hobbes and the Personality of the State

(p.46) 2 Hobbes and the Personality of the State
Leviathan on a Leash

Sean Fleming

Princeton University Press

This chapter lays the groundwork for the Hobbesian theory of state responsibility. It first sets out to determine what exactly Thomas Hobbes means when he says that the state is a person. Scholars of state and corporate responsibility, and even many Hobbes scholars, have failed to appreciate the novelty of Hobbes' idea of state personality because they have projected the idea of corporate agency — the core of the agential theory — back onto Hobbes. The chapter shows that it is possible to recover a novel understanding of state personality from Hobbes if one resists the urge to read him through the contemporary literature on corporate agency. What makes Hobbes' idea of personhood unique and valuable is that it decouples personhood from metaphysical conceptions of agency; it explains how states and other entities can be persons even though they do not have any intrinsic capacity for rationality, intentionality, or action.

Keywords:   Hobbesian theory, state responsibility, Thomas Hobbes, states, state personality, corporate agency, personhood, corporate responsibility

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