David Van Mill recently argued in this journal that Hobbes's theory of freedom in Leviathan is fundamentally confused. Van Mill finds that this confusion arises from the supposed inconsistency between Hobbes's initial account of liberty as “the absence of external impediments” in Chapter 14 and subsequent uses of the term in contexts where he must necessarily have held a different concept. (This occurs most notably in Chapter 21, where he discusses the “liberty of subjects.”) According to Van Mill, the consequence of this confusion is nothing less than the disintegration of Hobbes's whole system. Against this account, I argue that Hobbes presents a consistent, if somewhat flawed, account of freedom sufficient to save him from the dire conclusions drawn by Van Mill and others.
Harman, John D. (1997). "Liberty, Rights, and Will in Hobbes: A Response to David Van Mill." Journal of Politics 59.3, 893-902.
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