Punishment Not War: Limits of a Paradigm

by Luc Foisneau

The distinction between punishments and acts of hostility is central to Hobbes’s theory of punishment in his three political treatises, but also in the ‘Dialogue of the Common-Laws’ and ‘The Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance’. Such a distinction is not, as Agamben would have it, the expression of the equivalence between sovereignty and exception, but one dimension of a politics of sovereignty in its international context. The example of the statutes of Provisors as interpreted by Hobbes shows that the cruel punishment inflicted on those coming to England to receive ecclesiastical benefits given to them by the pope, the so-called ‘Provisors’, testifies mainly to the fierce struggles between the kingdom of England and the papacy. Hobbes invents a new theory of punishment no longer based, as in Suarez, on a metaphysics of free will but on the political consequences of punishing.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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