Single Idea 2368

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / A. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention]

Full Idea

The desires and other passions of man are in themselves no sin. No more are the actions that proceed from those passions, till they know a law that forbids them.


'Law' is the Greek word 'nomos', which also translates as 'convention'

Gist of Idea

Men's natural desires are no sin, and neither are their actions, until law makes it so


Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan [1651], 1.13)

Book Reference

Hobbes,Thomas: 'Leviathan', ed/tr. Macpherson,C.B. [Penguin 1981], p.187

A Reaction

That is a pretty flat rejection of natural law, as you might expect from an empiricist. So prior to the first law-making, no one ever did anything wrong? Hm.