Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) are usually portrayed as two central philosophers of the British modern political and legal thought. With David Armitage’s Foundations of Modern International Thought, they also appear as leading figures in the making of the modern international political thought. In Armitage’s intellectual history, the couple “Hobbes-Bentham” delimits chronologically the formation period of the modern international political thought (1629-1832). In his attempt to justify his assumption, Armitage explains that he heavily relies on “a series of prior aetiological narratives, mostly within the disciplines of international law and International relations, had also found them there.” These narratives have led to the assumption that the divide between the internal and the external, the domestic and the foreign have participated to the foundations of modern international thought during that period. This account is a well-received description of modern international thought where Hobbes and Bentham both incarnate major figures in conducting central developments in modern international thought.
This account, however, tends to undermine the changes that occurred in the making of the international realm both conceptually and historically. The attempt of this workshop is to focus on the British tradition from Hobbes to Bentham (including John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith) in order to understand, through the articulation between economy and political theory, its unique contribution to modern international thought. Indeed, what sort of relations, developments, connections, continuities and ruptures take place in the fields of political theory, economy and international theory in the time period that stretches between intellectually active periods of Thomas Hobbes (from 1629 onwards) and Jeremy Bentham (1832)? We ask, for example, what sort of relations can we see between the conceptualizations of property rights and free markets? Is there a continuity on the conceptualization of sovereign state, war, colonization and expansion? How do they think about economic interactions and interdependence in the aftermath of the birth of the Westphalian world?
The symposium is organized by Benjamin Bourcier, Associate Professor in Moral and Political Philosophy, ESPOL, Université Catholique de Lille (France), and Mikko Jakonen, Adjunct Professor and Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, University of Jyväskylä (Finland).