Title: "Answering the Foole: Prudence, Reasonableness and Compliance within the Hobbesian Tradition"
My paper addresses the predicament contemporary Hobbesians have in answering ‘the foole’—as introduced by Hobbes in the Leviathan—without compromising the Hobbesian tradition itself. The traditional argument against the foole that compliance with social and moral norms maximizes one’s self-interest, and thus noncompliance would be practically irrational. However, it is undeniable that there are circumstances in which defecting from social and moral norms is the maximizing choice for one’s self-interest. The question that must be answered is: What makes noncompliance—even when it is personally maximizing to do—always practically irrational?
One way to answer this question is by demonstrating that defecting is irrational for prudential reasons. Another way to answer is by demonstrating that noncompliance is irrational for non-prudential normative reasons. Efforts to justify compliance with appeals to prudential rationality have received significant criticism over the years and that may lead us to interpret Hobbes’ justification for compliance with a more morally loaded sense of rationality—such as a reciprocity principle. However, does this become antithetical to the Hobbesian tradition by smuggling moral or normative assumptions where they do not belong in Hobbes’ theory? If justifications for compliance that appeal to prudential rationality are unsatisfactory, and appeals to reciprocity do not fit with Hobbesian tradition, it seems that Hobbesians could have a dilemma —either lack a satisfactory justification for compliance or adulterate the tradition with normative assumptions that go beyond minimal prudential rationality. However, I plan to argue that Hobbesians do not face such a dilemma because the tradition can incorporate non-prudential normative assumptions—as long as they are careful about where these assumptions are utilized within the theory.