Hobbes and the International Anarchy (1981)

  • Kai Alderson
  • Andrew Hurrell


The pattern of Bull’s thinking about Hobhes is set out originally in ‘Society and Anarchy’. Reflecting Bull’s realist side (especially visible in his early work) Hobbes indeed does capture a particular character of conflict that follows from the existence of formal anarchy, that is latent in international relations at all times, and which may sometimes come to dominate it. But, in all his work, Bull is consistent in arguing that this ‘Hobbesian’ image provides a wholly inadequate and inaccurate characterization of international relations as a whole, for three reasons: first, states do not exhaust their strength in a perpetual struggle for security; second, it is wrong to argue that conceptions of right and wrong play no role in international life; and, third, states are different from individuals and these very differences open up the possibility that a different form of political association may be both viable and appropriate.


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  1. 1.
    John Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. Oliver Lawson Dick (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1957).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thomas Hobbes, Behemotii, or The Long Parliament, ed. Ferdinand Tönnies (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1969), p. 144.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury [hereinafter EWH], ed. by Sir William Molesworth, 11 vols (London: J. Bonn, 1836–45), 3: 115.Google Scholar
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    See Howard Warrender, The Political Philosophy of Hobbes (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1957).Google Scholar
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    See Leo Strauss in K. C. Brown (ed.), Hobbes Studies (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965)Google Scholar
  7. see also Leo Strauss, The Political Philosophy of Hobbes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952).Google Scholar
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    Benedictus de Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus III, ii, in Spinoza, The Political Works, ed. A. G. Wernham (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1965).Google Scholar
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    Karl von Clausewitz, On War, trans, by O. J. Matthijs Jolies (New York: Modern Library, 1943).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Alderson
  • Andrew Hurrell

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