Hobbes on the making and unmaking of citizens

Maximilian Jaede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines Thomas Hobbes’s views on legal citizenship in view of sovereign prerogative powers and the conditions of rule by law. It is argued that the authority of Hobbesian sovereigns includes the right to decide whether individuals be admitted as subjects of the state, or treated as public enemies. While Hobbes’s specific understanding of the legal status of citizens seems to be inapplicable today, it is suggested that he provides us with a broader perspective on the making and unmaking of citizens, which could be used to evaluate attempts to deprive terrorists or insurgents of their citizen rights. In Hobbes’s view, the sovereign does not only have a right to formally admit or exclude individuals, but also a duty to constitute them as citizens through civic education. Hence, it is ultimately the government’s responsibility if citizens turn into enemies of the state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-102
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Hobbes
  • Sovereignty
  • Citizenship
  • Law
  • Punishment
  • Civic education


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