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Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”

Thomas Hobbes’s “Leviathan” in focus

The work of Thomas Hobbes’s “Leviathan” tells about different approaches on the state power with the author’s personal points on it. The work tends to keep a reader following the gradual understanding of how to make out the power itself and what kind of it is preferred for a sound-minded society. The concept of justice is a universal one which implies the features of goodness and rationality in state regulations.

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The fact that the work was published in the seventeenth century, in time when English Civil War took place, made additional emphasis on the personal intentions of the author when adhering to the strong central power. Furthermore, Hobbes thought the well-being of the society depends on the sovereign who is above the society and controls all branches of state power. The point is that individuals living in the society cannot neglect the rules, laws and principles of the state.

Otherwise, such people can be fairly called “Fools”. This category is rather discussed in the author’s work. A strict and straightforward attitude towards fools Hobbes illustrates by following words: “A naturall foole that could never learn by heart the order of numeral words, as One, Two, and Three, may observe every stroke of the Clock, and nod to it, or say one, one, one; but can never know what hour it strikes.” (17) In other words, the author strives to outline insignificant value in issues of governing of such social elements.

The Fool of Hobbes

The evaluation of Hobbes’s “Fool” which stands in his treatise as an opposing character the author tends to make out the difference between fools and men of Reason underlining a prevailing position of the second group of people and designating the first one as suchlike subordinates. “The Fool hath said in his heart, there is no such thing as Justice” (66) is a controversial thought which the author explains throughout the extent of “a man of nature”.

This idea is rather grave when following the author’s tendency to describe the state without government and the conditions of foolishness to where it can lead to. Hobbes then notes: “…why every man might not do what he thought conduced thereunto; and therefore also to make, or not make; keep, or not keep Covenants, was not against Reason, when it conduced to ones benefit.” (66) The concepts of “Reason” and “Covenant” are the core elements when discussing the fool of Hobbes, i.e. the extent of a person who perpetually wants to play safe in order to gain more profits in his favour ignoring the rest of the people.

Hobbes makes every effort to argue that it is unjust to follow further support of relationships between two sides signed in the covenant. If one of the sides breaks the requirements of the covenant, then, as Hobbes comments, another side can make up its mind to neglect current law as nonexistent. Thus, a sort of greatest amorality as of Hobbes is when the covenant is broken due to the personal interests of minority or the party which does so for gaining definite profits.

Then the author strives to work out some problems which can be caused by “fool’s” breaking of the covenant. The point is that a person should rally thoughts over the question what will be a supposed reaction of others on such a deed and how will it be treated when organizing the strategic formations or unions within a country. It is a risky decision and leads to whether one gets more than he has and loses some non-material values like respect, trust, hope of people assisting and having business with him or not. In particular, defensive alliances may suffer from such a violation of the covenant.

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This leads to depravity, as he thinks. “He therefore that breaketh his Covenant, and consequently declareth that he thinks he may with reason do so, cannot be received into any Society, that unite themselves for Peace and defence, but by the errour of them that receive him…” (67) By these words Hobbes straightforwardly outlines the danger of destruction for individuals opposing the power. In other words, the author provokes the audience to follow the “Covenant”.

Otherwise, one cannot prevent himself from being perished or even dead. The thing is that there is no actual argumentative base for fools’ objection according to law and its representatives. It is the same as to say now that there is no sun in the galaxy and heart in a man’s soul. The author just points out as of it that “over natural fools, children, or mad-men there is no Law, no more than over brute beasts; nor are they capable of the title of just, or unjust; because they had never power to make any covenant, or to understand the consequences thereof…”(116)

The lack of trust among others prevents such a fool to sign any agreement, because there is no actual guarantee that in a state governed by the rule of law, which in return would lead to violation of Covenant between two sides. Such a chain reaction undoubtedly causes conflicts in the state. The population of any state is in safety until the law is in power to judge people and keep them in the framework of justice. Though, Thomas Hobbes states that the Fool in his work can, of course, act ignoring the law and maintain his affairs provoking the state power to call him persona non grata, but there is no firmness that this person can be safe anymore since he has violated the points of Covenant.

At the time when Hobbes wrote his book the publicity urged to bend an ear to the word of God, so that not to be excommunicated. As it may be stated, the role of church in the seventeenth century was rather high and grave for every layers of societal structure in every European country. The example of God’s Covenant with Moses is a plain manifestation of the problems appearing within a community of people as of following the prescriptions of the Covenant.

This story amazes by Moses’s endurance, in fact, and provides the vast foolishness of the rest. Returning to Hobbes’s times it was known that men in office were not actually afraid of the Church, they just did not want to sour relations with it in order not to invoke possible rebels in masses on which the Church could make impact. “Covenants Not Discharged By The Vice Of The Person To Whom They Are Made Others, that allow for a Law of Nature, the keeping of Faith…” (67)

Justice as a significant component for state power

Thomas Hobbes, from the point of diplomatic view on the issue, works out the problem of justice separating it into few subdivisions, i.e. “Justice of man”, “Justice of action”, “Justice of Manners”, “Justice Communicative”, and “Justice Distributive”.

These five types of justice the author considered to be directions in which one can signify the benefits given by the power of a sovereign. The mentioned benefits concern mainly the social guarantees, but the author underlines them due to the “Laws of Nature” which strive to estimate and better represent the inner and outer intentions of human beings in their everyday life. The contradictions in all five types of justice seem to be fair, especially when designating the communicative and distributive justice. The logic and proportional approaches in this aspect of the issue go together with the humane and social principles prevailing in the society throughout the historical cut.

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As it is remembered, the central power of a sovereign goes with the fair definition of him as a “governor appointed by God”. What is more, Justice Hobbes sees as a rule for the society in order to adhere to the Reason, so that not to provide destructive actions in relationships with people living in the state.

The flow of historical development proves this idea when some groups of people in ancient times tended to create rules and principles of regulations and control based on the traditional moral aspect of a definite society’s background. Thus, the main intention of people in this case was, and actually it occurs to be so in present times, to stay alive and protected by the rest of people. It fairly leads to the point that one must be obliged to follow the law principles and in such a manner to get off the Fool’s destiny of being condemned by law and, as a result, punished.

People cannot plan for appropriate positive deeds, attitudes or things from the side of other people, unless they have done the same things in return. It actually points out one of the principles of justice, which comprises that a man should get only those things which he deserves.

This is more efficient when a man belongs to some wholeness or entity of other people in terms of their grouping character. With regards to Hobbes’s Fifth Law of Nature which states “that every man strive to accommodate himselfe to the rest” (69) it is clear that the power of justice comes from the unity of weighty opinions getting together for the final “verdict”, so that to point out whether something or someone just or unjust. Criticizing the “Fool” who stands against law Thomas Hobbes even makes an attempt to estimate the miserable situation of his current flow of thinking adhering to The Bible: “It pleased God by the Foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe…” (242)


Hobbes gives rather convincing statement that in any case being unjust is out of maintaining covenant’s points to be adhered to. The message of the author relies mainly on the moral and ethical side of the issue and a lack of consciousness as a core for agreement violation. From the other point of view, people are powered by an instinct of self-preservation and the famous proverb Homo homini lupus est makes difference in true nature of people’s relationships when they look for personal benefits due to profit motive in every human being. The problem of the work was stimulated by the fact that people take for granted betrayal as a tool for the values to be neglected.

Works cited

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Penguin Classics, 1968.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”.

Work Cited

"Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”." StudyCorgi, 27 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Hobbes’s Reply to “There Is No Such Thing as Justice”'. 27 October.

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