This chapter defines “the Hobbesian hypothesis” as the claim that the Lockean proviso is fulfilled: everyone benefits from the state and/or the property rights system. The chapter previews the book’s arguments, including these five: 1. Although previously unnamed, this hypothesis has been used in many prominent political theories for at least 350 years. 2. This hypothesis is an empirical claim about all stateless peoples. 3. Despite equivocation, social contract justifications of the state and natural rights justifications of property use this hypothesis as a fundamental premise. 4. Most philosophers who rely on it have asked readers to assume it is true without offering evidence. 5. It is false.
Keywords: State of nature, Social contract (theory), Lockean proviso, Hobbesian hypothesis, Property (property rights theory), Thomas Hobbes, Contractarian (-ism), Libertarian (-ism), Statelessness (stateless people)
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