Rosamond Rhodes: Hobbes’s Fifth Law of Nature and its Implications

Hobbes presents the fifth Law of Nature, Mutual Accommodation, in Leviathan, Chapter XV. Although a great deal of scholarly attention has been devoted to the first four Laws of Nature, hardly any mention of the fifth appears in the literature. In this talk I explain the fifth Law as a central piece of Hobbes’s theory and thereby reveals his progressive inclinations. Drawing upon relevant passages in Leviathan I show how Hobbes’s view of property allocation and reallocation derives from this Law and how attention to mutual accommodation directs sovereigns to constrain their grasping inclinations and curb their disposition to overextend legislative authority.

ROSAMOND RHODES, Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Education and Director of Bioethics Education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she oversees the medical ethics curriculum for students in all four years of medical school, for house staff in eleven residency programs, for graduate post-doctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences, and for students in the genetics counseling program. She directs a program of faculty medical ethics education and collaborates with faculty members on a variety of research projects. Dr. Rhodes serves as a member of Mount Sinai’s Ethics Committee and IACUC. Dr. Rhodes is also Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Beyond the teaching setting, Dr. Rhodes serves as co-editor of the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine and on the editorial boards of the international journals Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Bioethics, and Clinical Ethics. She has published over 125 articles and chapters on a broad range of issues in bioethics including: professionalism, justice, the doctor-patient relationship, decisional capacity, surrogate decision making, research ethics, physician-assisted suicide, genetics, cloning, abortion, assisted reproduction, organ transplantation, psychiatry, and bioethics education. She also writes on issues in the history of moral and political philosophy.