Hobbes: from ontology and epistemology to morality and politics

Convenor: Thomas O’Neill (tomoneill1986@gmail.com)
This workshop dicsusses the epistemological and ontological assumptions that underpin Hobbes’s moral and political theory. Hobbes’s moral theory has been argued prudential and deontological, liberal and authoritarian, with various justifications. Examples of such justifications are Hobbes’s theory of the good, the political and historical background, his scientific and mathematical method, his theory of language, and his alleged scepticism. Each justification depends on its own turn on epistemological and ontological questions while giving credence to a particular moral and political theory. This workshop discusses the ontological and epistemological assumptions that underpin these views and questions their relevance and influence on Hobbes’s moral and political theory. Examples of questions this workshop will deal with are: Is Hobbes a constructivist or realist? Does Hobbes state any ontological assumptions or does he stop at his epistemological scepticism? Is it possible to assume it self-evidently true that bodies exist while maintaining that truth is an attribute of speech, and not of objects themselves?

A great many areas of philosophy and political theory deal with questions on Hobbes’s moral and political framework which go beyond the traditional questions of political philosophy alone, including philosophy of science, metaethics, history, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mathematics. The workshop will host papers from any current perspective or approach to the question what ontological and epistemological assumptions underpin Hobbes’s moral and political theory: Hobbes’s type of scepticism and its relevance to his moral and political views, Hobbes’s mathematical and scientific methods and their influence on his psychology and determinism, the historical background of Hobbes’s views, and Hobbes’s theory of language.