Hobbes & Spinoza in the 21st Century: Method, Morality, Politics

Hobbes & Spinoza in the 21st Century
Method, Morality, and Politics
May 1st and 2nd, 2015
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Frontispieces of Leviathan, Ethics, and the TTP

Theme of the Conference

Recent interest in Hobbes and Spinoza has tended to focus on their ideas in historical context. From this perspective, Hobbes is acknowledged to be an important influence on Spinoza, and both are key figures in the development of modern political philosophy and science. Yet many current moral and political thinkers overlook Hobbes and Spinoza, and the connection between them, thus losing out on a major source of insight for current moral and political issues. While some recent notable discussions of Hobbes and Spinoza have applied their methods and ideas to contemporary problems, we think that these discussions are deserving of both greater attention and continued development.

The relative lack of appreciation for Hobbes and Spinoza in contemporary political and moral thought, concomitant with a renaissance in historically oriented Hobbes and Spinoza scholarship, points to the need for increased dialogue between these two domains. To this end, our conference will facilitate this dialogue in order to promote further application of Hobbes's and Spinoza's ideas to contemporary moral and political issues.


We expect Hobbes & Spinoza in the 21st Century to be of interest to at least the following:

Early Modern Historians and Philosophers
Contemporary Moral and Political Philosophers
Political Scientists
Graduate Students, undergraduates and the public are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Register Now!


  • Julie Cooper

    Tel Aviv
  • Jeffrey Collins

  • Edwin Curley

    University of Michigan
    Some of Prof. Curley's relevant papers: Hobbes, Spinoza
  • Torin Doppelt

    Queen's University
  • David Gauthier

  • Jan Narveson

  • Hasana Sharp

  • Justin Steinberg

    Brooklyn College CUNY
  • Matthew Taylor



The conference will be held in the McLaughlin Room of the John Deutsch University Centre at Queen's University.


This conference would not be possible without generous financial support from the following sources:

  • Jon Miller
  • Will Kymlicka
  • Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • Queen's History Department
  • Queen's Philosophy Department
  • Queen's Social Studies of Science

In addition, we greatly appreciate the help we have received from the following people in planning and executing this event:

  • Jeff Collins
  • Andrew Lister
  • Marilyn Lavoie
  • Alistair Macleod


Exact details, including titles, abstracts, etc., forthcoming.

May 1st

9:00-9:45 Breakfast

9:45-10:00 Welcome Address

10:00-11:00 Matthew Taylor
11:15-12:15 Jan Narveson
"The Social Contract Moral Theory of Hobbes"
12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:00 David Gauthier
"Authors and Actors"
3:15-4:15 Justin Steinberg
"Taming Fortuna: Spinoza on Statecraft"
4:30-5:30 Hasana Sharp
"Spinoza and the New Politics of Nature: Virtue and Fortune Redux"

May 2nd

9:00-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:00 Torin Doppelt
"Freeing Spinoza: Method, Morality, and Human Action"
11:15-12:15 Jeffrey Collins
“Thomas Hobbes in Liberal Memory”
12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:00 Edwin Curley
"Spinoza's Contribution to Biblical Scholarship"
Slides PDF

NOTE: This paper is a draft with future changes intended.
It may not be quoted without permission.

3:15-4:15 Julie Cooper
"Democracy and Theocracy in Jewish Political Thought: From Baruch Spinoza to Michael Walzer"
4:15 - 4:30 Closing Address

Schedule is currently subject to change.


Registration is not required but is encouraged.

If you would like to attend, please send your name and affiliation (if applicable) to either:

Torin (8td7@queensu.ca)
Matt (11mwjt@queensu.ca)