CFP - The Making of Modern International Realm: economy and international political theory from T. Hobbes to J. Bentham (Catholic University of Lille, 15-16 April 2021)

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The Making of Modern International Realm:

economy and international political theory

from T. Hobbes to J. Bentham


European School of Political and Social Sciences

Catholic University of Lille (France)

15-16 April 2021


Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) are usually portrayed as two central philosophers of the British modern political and legal thought. With David Armitage’s Foundations of Modern International Thought, they also appear as leading figures in the making of the modern international political thought. In Armitage’s intellectual history, the couple “Hobbes-Bentham” delimits chronologically the formation period of the modern international political thought (1629-1832). In his attempt to justify his assumption, Armitage explains that he heavily relies on “a series of prior aetiological narratives, mostly within the disciplines of international law and International relations, had also found them there.” These narratives have led to the assumption that the divide between the internal and the external, the domestic and the foreign have participated to the foundations of modern international thought during that period. This account is a well-received description of modern international thought where Hobbes and Bentham both incarnate major figures in conducting central developments in modern international thought.

However, this account tends to undermine the changes that occurred in the making of the international realm both conceptually and historically. The attempt of this workshop is to focus on the British tradition from Hobbes to Bentham (including John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith) in order to understand, through the articulation between economy and political theory, its unique contribution to modern international thought. Indeed, what sort of relations, developments, connections, continuities and ruptures take place in the fields of political theory, economy and international theory in the time period that stretches between intellectually active periods of Thomas Hobbes (from 1629 onwards) and Jeremy Bentham (1832)? We ask, for example, what sort of relations can we see between the conceptualizations of property rights and free markets? Is there a continuity on the conceptualization of sovereign state, war, colonization and expansion? How do they think about economic interactions and interdependence in the aftermath of the birth of the Westphalian world?

Abstracts may address one or more of the following areas. Contributions which do not fall under these categories – but nevertheless address the theme of the conference – are also welcome:

First axis: proto-theories of globalization in modern international thought                                                           

International commerce and competition in David Hume, Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham

Jealousies, glory, vanity in David Hume, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham

Rich countries and Poor Countries economic exchange in David Hume, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham

International private companies

International commerce, peace and war

International commerce, national bankruptcy

International law, international treaties, commercial treaties

Distance, global trade, local economy, imperial conquests


Critics of empire

Critics of mercantilism


 Second axis: Ruptures or continuity between early modern (Hobbes, Locke) & modern international thought (Hume, Smith, Bentham)?

 Domestic economy and international economy

Work, labour, population control, colony settlement, property

property rights, land, market regulation, law

Taxes policy, bounties, balance of trade, controlling foreign trade and money

Economic theories, modern political economy, commerce

State theories, liberal internationalism, cosmopolitanism

Banks, paper-money, financial plans and policies

Free trade, freedom of movement, borders

international theory, laws of nations, international law

Keynote speaker: David Lieberman is James W. and Isabel Coffroth Professor of Jurisprudence at the Berkeley Law Faculty, University of California.

Paper proposals of maximum 800 words should be sent by December 20th2020 to: and

Each paper will be attributed 45 minutes. The format will be 30 minutes presentation followed by 15 minutes of questions and discussion. The organizers of the workshop cannot provide financial travel support for speakers. For the participants, the organizers will provide catering, restaurant and possible financial support (hostel) for the two days of the conference.



Benjamin Bourcier, Associate Professor in Moral and Political Philosophy, ESPOL, Université Catholique de Lille (France).

Mikko Jakonen, Adjunct Professor, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

 This Workshop is part of the project “The Making of Modern International Realm in English Political Theory” funded by grant StaR (n°58465/7, convention n°18004740) provided by the Région des Hauts-de-France.