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Volume 28 • Number 4

October 2014



 

 

When Hobbes Is an Optimist: Politics among the Malevolent


by Loren E. Lomasky


Much can be hoped from a liberal political order. It may afford individuals ample scope for deployment of their moral powers; experiments in living might proliferate; autonomous lives are most likely to be forged in such a venue. Without wishing to deny that these are indeed notable benefactions of liberal sociality, none can plausibly be nominated as its primary rationale. That role must instead be given to peace. I do not mean "peace" in its transcendent signification of transformative harmony and contentment (lions lying down with lambs, Democrats with Republicans, etc.) but rather in the most spare sense of an absence of overt hostilities. For only if individuals bring to their interactions with others a generalized willingness to forgo aggressive incursions and a presumption that others are similarly inclined, will these additional moral commodities be achievable. Peace is not the culmination of a utopian prospectus, but it is its commencement.


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ISSN: 2152-0542