I am Rosemarie (Rosie) Wagner, a PhD candidate in Political Science at UC Berkeley. I am currently writing a dissertation on the legal and political theory of Thomas Hobbes.  My dissertation has two broad aims: to show the full complexity Thomas Hobbes's distinctive legal theory, and to use that legal theory as a lens to recast and resolve persistent problems in Hobbes's political theory.  This is primarily a conceptual and textual analysis, but one which relies heavily on the legal and political historical contexts in which Hobbes was working. I have completed the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, an interdisciplinary program at UC Berkeley. Before coming here, I received an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Tufts University. I am proficient in Latin, Spanish, and French.  I pride myself on my teaching and have extensive experience as a teaching assistant as well as an educator at many different levels; I received UC Berkeley's Outstanding Student Instructor Award in 2013.

My primary research interests center on questions of the relationship between between law and force in politics, and the role of reason and passion in political psychology. In addition to the early modern period, I also have research interests in late modern as well as ancient Greek political thought.

Dissertation Abstract:

Thomas Hobbes is not simply the crude command theorist he has traditionally been caricatured as, nor is he easily assimilated to any other of our contemporary camps within legal philosophy. He has long been read as having such a reductive account of law that he holds no interest to scholars except as a simplistic theorist of law as command. However, striking recent contributions to Hobbes scholarship seek to reject this view by arguing that Hobbes instead holds an account of the rule of law, rooted in natural law, that constitutionally constrains the power of the sovereign.  This scholarship, which I call “Rule of Law Hobbesianism,” succeeds in bringing to light important complexities in Hobbes’s account of law, but overreaches in its conclusions. Contrary to the traditional view of Hobbes’s theory of law as absolute command, Hobbes recognizes a variety of constraints on what constitutes law, stemming from his understanding of the moral and legal foundations of the commonwealth, the structure of sovereignty, and the duties of judges. Contrary to the Rule of Law Hobbesians, however, I argue that these constraints do not amount to a systematic limitation of the sovereign but instead reveal the varied ways Hobbes attempts to consolidate unitary sovereign power through law.  Through an analysis of the interpretive duties and powers of judges and subjects, this paper shows that Hobbes’s legal theory takes seriously the complexities of legal interpretation and law’s relationship to moral and political requirements, but it is a legal theory which is rooted in and always aimed at shoring up authoritarian and unified legislative power.

This dissertation proceeds begins with a broad conceptual analysis of his theory of law—natural, positive, and divine—as Hobbes portrays it throughout his various works.  The second section of the dissertation focuses on the power and duties of legislation, and the relationship specifically of the sovereign to ruling through law, as opposed to ruling outside of law.  The third section analyzes the duties of judges to interpret the sovereign's law and natural law, and the duties of administrators in administering the law.  The final section examines questions of punishment in Hobbes's works and how Hobbes's descriptions of the ways laws are actually applied and enforced in the commonwealth reflect back on his definition(s) of law.

Dissertation Committee: Kinch Hoekstra (chair), Wendy Brown, Victoria Kahn, Shannon Stimson.

UC Berkeley Political Science

UC Berkeley Renaissance & Early Modern Studies