In this groundbreaking book, Curran seeks to reveal Hobbes's contribution to the theory of individual rights and to the history of the concept of individual rights. Beginning by examining Hobbes's pronouncements on rights in the context of the writings of his contemporaries - both royalist and parliamentarian - she goes on to discuss Hobbes's arguments for the universal inalienability of crucial rights to self-preservation and self-defence, which echo those of the parliamentarian Levellers. And yet, in the intervening centuries, Hobbes's political theory has come to be seen as lacking any substantive rights for subjects. Curran develops an argument that in Leviathan, Hobbes does describe genuine political rights for subjects and he provides for their protection by the duties of others. She also argues that the Hohfeldian analysis, that dominates current discussions of rights, has contributed to a distorted reading of Hobbesian rights. In asking what sort of theory of rights underlies Hobbes's descriptions, she argues that it is not a theory of natural rights, tied to the premises of natural law, but is instead a modern, secular theory.

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