This paper considers the contribution positive political theory has made to the resolution of “Hobbes’ Problem”—the problem of describing the nature of artificial persons, such as states. This problem plays a central role in both empirical and normative work in political science. Several areas of positive political theory, most notably social choice theory, have shed light on Hobbes’ Problem, and the results have been generally negative. That is to say, they have suggested that the conditions necessary to generate an artificial collective agent out of the individual agents comprising it may be impossible to satisfy, at least if this is done in a nontrivial way. While efforts to establish the possibility of a collective agent continue—notably in recent work by Christian List and Philip Pettit—the primary accomplishment of positive political theory has been to raise the question of whether Hobbes’ Problem can be solved at all.


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pp. 1-14
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