CFP: /Philosophies/ Special Issue: Contemporary Significance of Thomas Hobbes' Political Philosophy

Submission deadline: November 1, 2021

Topic areas


Dear Colleagues,

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) is one of the most prominent philosophers in the history of political theory and philosophy. Controversial in his own time, he has been both revered and reviled ever since. Hobbes’s contemporary relevance is the topic of this Special Issue, as we invite researchers from different fields in the social sciences and humanities to explore and examine to what extent Hobbes’s philosophy can be used to understand a broad range of contemporary issues.

Hobbes was concerned with social order and political legitimacy. Using the metaphor of a social contract, Hobbes highlighted one way to establish political legitimacy. He lived in a time of great conflict, and he is perhaps most famous for his systematic approach to political philosophy, which led him to prefer the rule of few and to emphasize that the sovereign must have absolute authority to be able to provide security and order. While he acknowledged that a sovereign with absolute power is not ideal, he argued that the downsides are less weighty than the downsides of limited power prone to produce instability and conflict. Hobbes’ use of a contract as his mechanism for the legitimate transfer of rights and power underscores that ideas of representation and responsibility are important parts of his philosophy. For example, he discussed in detail how the social contract allows the sovereign to act as a representative of the individual citizens, with the possibility that a citizen is acted upon with his own authority.

These are just some of the few significant aspects of Hobbes’s political philosophy. Some of the key issues to be explored regarding Hobbes’s contemporary relevance relate to broad and general issues, such as human nature, the nature of liberty, power, conflict, coordination, mutual advantage, and cooperation. Furthermore, the social contract and contractarianism, the nature of political power and legitimacy, representation, and forms of government are highly relevant; not least in debates related to the virtues and vices of democracy, as we currently see democracy challenged in several ways in many parts of the world. Hobbes’s philosophy is not limited to the analysis of political systems, and we encourage novel and creative contributions that explore how Hobbes’s general or political philosophy can foster improved understandings of issues related to sustainability and new technologies.

Many possible topics are mentioned above and the following is a list of possible topics for the Special Issue:

  • Hobbesian explanations of the current challenges to democracy
  • Issues of social justice
  • Environmental issues and sustainability
  • New technologies and societal and individual impacts
  • Contractualism and contractarianism
  • Political and moral obligations
  • Individualist understandings of society and human nature
  • The reasonable and the rational
  • The sovereignty of the state versus the strength of the state
  • The role of the Sovereign
  • Pandemics and other global emergencies seemingly difficult to solve with a system of sovereign states

Prof. Henrik Skaug Sætra
Prof. Harald Borgebund
Guest Editors


  • Hobbes
  • social contract
  • sovereignty
  • democracy
  • individualism
  • human nature
  • moral philosophy
  • obligations
  • contractarianism
  • the state

Please contact Guest Editor Prof. Henrik Skaug Sætra, Prof. Harald Borgebund or Special Issue Editor Viktor Ćirković at [email protected] for further information.

Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287, is an international peer-reviewed open access journal. The journal has recently been indexed into Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) in Web of Science.

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