Silence of the Laws? Conceptions of International Relations and International Law in Hobbes, Kant, and Locke

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This Essay explains how the political theorists Hobbes, Kant, and Locke interpret the decision to go to war (jus ad bellum) and the manner in which the war is conducted (just in bello). It also considers the implications of the three theories for compliance with international law more generally. It concludes that although all three can lay claim to certain key features of modern international law, it is Locke who provides the most complete support for both the laws of war, in particular, and with international law, in general.