Hobbes, lover og gutten som falt fra treet

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Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) er mest kjent som politisk filosof, men skrev i løpet av sitt lange liv (tidsalderen tatt i betraktning) om langt flere emner. Ett tema, som også fikk sin egen bok, er lovene. A Dialogue Between a Philosopher & a Student of the Common Laws of England (1971) ble gitt ut etter Hobbes’ død, og er langt mindre lest enn hans politiske verker. Det er allikevel anbefalt lesning, da lov og rett er en svært sentral del av poltisk teori – så også Hobbes’ filosofi.

Som Hobbes’ andre verker, er også dette tidvis svært fornøyelig lesning; dialogene er svært stimulerende og det er godt skrevet. Boken er skrevet i dialogform, der Hobbes uttrykker seg gjennom en diskusjon mellom en student av loven og en filosof. Et yndet mål for Hobbes er Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), en svært innflytelsesrik jurist som har tolket loven på måter Hobbes svært ofte sier seg uenig i.

Her følger et kort utdrag fra diskusjonen om forskjellige typer drap:

Lawyer: A third Kind of Homicide is when a Man kills another, either by misfortune, or in a necessary defence of himself, or of the King, or of his Laws; for such killing is neither Felony, nor Crime, saving (as Sir Edw. Coke says, Inst. p. 56.) that if the Act that a Man is doing when he kills another Man be Unlawful, then it is Murder. As if A. meaneth to steal a Deer in the Park of B. Shootheth at the Deer, and by the glance of the Arrow killeth a Boy that is hidden in a Bush; this is Murder, for that the Act was Unlawful; but if the owner of the park had done the like, shooting at his own Deer, it had been by Misadventure, and no Felony.

Philosopher: This is not so distinguished by any Statute, but is the Commonly only of Sir Edw. Coke. I believe not a word of it. If a Boy be robbing an Apple-tree, and falling thence upon a Man that stands under it, and breaks his Neck, but by the same chance saveth his own Life, Sir Edw. Coke, it seems, will have him Hanged for it, as if he had fallen of a prepensed Malice. All that can be called Crime in this Business is but a simple Trespass, to the dammage perhaps of sixpence or a shilling. I confess the Trespass was an Offence against the Law, but the falling was none, nor was it by the Trespass, but by the falling that the Man was slain; and as he ought to be quit of the killing, so he ought to make Restitution for the Trespass. […] (Hobbes 1971)

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