Angela Taraborrelli

Happiness in Seventeenth-Century English Political Debate. Hobbes and His Critics.

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Happiness, Liberty, Hobbes, Locke.

This article explores the political use of Hobbes's conception of happiness, with particular regard to the distinction between happiness and «civil happiness». It analyses the critics of Hobbesian political theory in the framework of two categories: those who consider happiness as the aim of government, and those who consider happiness as the «daughter of happiness». It also makes a comparison between Hobbes's idea of happiness as the duty of a state, and Locke's conception of happiness as an individual pursuit; it shows how the latter is at the basis of the conviction, stated in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, that the pursuit of happiness is an individual natural right. Finally it explains how Hobbes's and Locke's different ideas of liberty - both negative - influence their conceptions of happiness.

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