2012] DECONSTRUCTING HOBBES 817
Hobbes’s views on the following will be utilized to demonstrate
how consequentialism imbues and unifies his philosophy: the nature
of political society; the scope of sovereign obligation; the theory of
the divine covenant; the duties of the sovereign; the state of nature;
and rights and obligations of people and the sovereign in civil
I. HOBBES AND CONSEQUENTIALISM
It is the consequentialist impulses of Hobbes’s political
philosophy that give it its underlying unity and coherence, and
which have been neglected all too often. In order to explain this it
will be necessary to reconstruct the principal elements of Hobbes’s
political philosophy in the ensuing sections.
Hobbes’s thought anticipates several strands of contemporary
consequentialism. Although this is not the focus of this Article, it is
helpful to describe these strands in order to understand how they
bring unity and coherence to Hobbes’s doctrine as a whole.
The cardinal postulate of consequentialism is that values exist
independently of morality. Although morality is largely focused on
evaluations of agents and of character, consequentialist evaluations
focus on situations and outcomes. Thus, if an action produces a
desirable result in a given situation, then the act is “good.”3 An
important feature of consequentialism is the idea that the value of a
particular course of action is determined from an agent-neutral
perspective.4 An agent-neutral perspective is derived from the
viewpoint of society as a whole, whereas an agent-relative
perspective is derived from the viewpoint of a particular individual.5
Since values are assessed purely in accordance with the
consequences of actions, they are essentially instrumental and non-
moral in character. 6
There are several distinct branches or “schools” of
consequentialism, such as welfare consequentialism,7 rule
consequentialism,8 act consequentialism,9 and utilitarianism.10
However, all consequentialist approaches are based on theories of
the intrinsic and incommensurable value of outcomes generated
3. TIM MULGAN, THE DEMANDS OF CONSEQUENTIALISM 3 (2001).
4. Stephen L. Darwall, Introduction, in CONSEQUENTIALISM 2 (Stephen L.
Darwall ed., 2003).
5. See id. at 1.
6. Id. at 2.
7. See infra Part I.A.
8. See infra Part I.B.
9. See infra Part I.C.
10. See infra Part I.A.