15th Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Ragnolini

Davide Ragnolini

How could the Leviathan be killed? Pain and suffering in the Hobbesian international realm

According to a well-known disciplinary perspective assumed by IR theory scholars, the State is a kind of person, but of an odd type that lacks, so to speak, a real consistency. Being conceived as an abstract entity, no scholar would dare to describe that which the State represents exactly. Consequently, the question of the ontological status of the State has been veiled in the debate related to ‘domestic analogy’ as a theoretical tool, as well as in the debate concerning the State’s identity as an international actor. The Hobbesian account of the State-person’s genealogy could tell us something more about the ontological status of modern States, challenging Hedley Bull’s interpretation of the Hobbesian Commonwealth, and perhaps even suggesting the possibility to prospect, on account of the latter’s vital features, a domestic analogy in a much more materialistic way: an “ontological domestic analogy”.

This research represents an attempt to expand the ‘ontological domestic analogy’ and its explanatory power in order to show a closer correspondence between individuals and states, although conceived as artificial persons.

The first part of this paper will explore the cases in which, from a Hobbesian standpoint, the states could fall victim by a sort of sudden-onset sleep. A second part will marshal a textual analysis of Hobbesian work where the idea of a violent and relatively rapid death of the States is expressed; finally, will be shed light on the enduring relevance and theoretical implications of a “physicalistic” conception of State- person as indispensable theoretical cornerstone of IR theory.