Events – Hobbes

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5th Classics Revisited Conference, 30 March 2011

by Michael Sevel, Max Weber Fellow 2010-2011

On March 30th, the Weber Fellows hosted the 5th Classics Revisited Conference on “Hobbes and the Modern State: A 21st Century Interdisciplinary Perspective”.

Speakers included an impressive panel of Hobbes scholars and political theorists, from the EUI and beyond. Eleanor Curran (Law, Kent) opened the conference with a lecture on Hobbes’s theory of rights and his relation to the natural law tradition in ethics and politics. An interesting discussion followed about these topics, as well as his views about free markets and economic productivity.

The second presentation of the conference was a lively and engaging lecture by John McCormick (Political Science, Chicago) on the competing views of Hobbes in the works of 20th century political theorists Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss, and served as the first of several opportunities to speculate on what Hobbes would have thought of Nazis.

Claire Finkelstein (Law and Philosophy, Pennsylvania) followed with a talk about how Hobbes’s theory of law could help us answer the question of whether evil, Nazi ‘law’ was really law.

Sharon Lloyd (Law, Philosophy, and Political Science, Southern California) closed the conference with a wide-ranging talk about Hobbes’s view of the modern state in the context of international relations, including the possibility of a Hobbesian global political order in the face of an inter-planetary alien invasion (or, again, another Nazi uprising). The conference was held on a beautifully sunny day at Villa la Fonte, and an enjoyable lunch and dinner was had by the conference participants.