Skip to main content

Hobbes Comes out for Equal Marriage

Curran, Eleanor (2017) Hobbes Comes out for Equal Marriage. In: Courtland, Shane D., ed. Hobbesian Applied Ethics and Public Policy. Routledge Research in Applied Ethics . Routledge, London. ISBN 978-1-138-69163-6. E-ISBN 978-1-315-53441-1. (KAR id:62317)

PDF Pre-print
Language: English
Download (184kB) Preview
[thumbnail of 15032-0509-PIII-009.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


In the first part of the paper, I argue that one can marshal at least three of Hobbes’s arguments on equality to make the case that Hobbes would support equal marriage. First, Hobbes argues for rough natural equality and against all arguments for natural hierarchy. His arguments against natural hierarchy take the form of arguments for the equal treatment of persons, including the argument for equity. Second, I claim that Hobbes’s argument for natural equality contains an argument for the equal rights of all individuals. And third, there is the argument that everyone has the right to pursue happiness; the right to a commodious life. In addition, his arguments on the sovereign duty to be equitable can be used to support equal treatment under the law.

In the second part of the paper, I examine biographical evidence which may give us an insight into Hobbes’s attitude to homosexuality. The question of Hobbes’s attitude towards same sex relationships is at least partially answered in his private correspondence. His friend, François du Verdus, offers to send him a poem ‘which I wrote recently about the loves of two women, who fall in love with each other.’ Hobbes replies and asks for the poem. Du Verdus has written it at the request of his friend, one of the lovers depicted in the poem, and comments that one aspect of it is bad ‘or rather, it would be bad, if I had written it for any other purpose except to please those two ladies.’ At a time when legal and religious prohibitions were severe, Hobbes apparently has no objections to the poem’s subject matter, or, indeed, to Du Verdus’ choice of friends.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 14:19 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year