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Before and after Natural Law

Models of Natural Law in Ancient and Modern Times
  • Merio Scattola
Part of the Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 186)

Abstract

The history of natural law is a constitutive part both of the history of the modern state and of the history of political theories in the last four centuries. To a certain extent the beginning of modern natural law theory was at the same time the beginning of the modern state. If we think about the works of great modern philosophers as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke or Immanuel Kant it is clear that the main results in the political thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth century were achieved by applying and developing some basic elements such as natural freedom, state of nature, natural rights and covenant which belong to the very instruments of natural law doctrines. And this served both to enlarge the sphere of action of the sovereign and to restrict it. But it is at the same time true that the territorial state of the early modern centuries could not have imposed its pervasive control over all subjects living within its boundaries if it had not had at its disposal the convincing power of these same theories. This assumption is even more important when, as we shall see, the modern state consists first of all in a rational process to bind together the will of the subjects through the will of the sovereign.

Keywords

Civil Society Innate Idea Political Society Universal Order Opus Omnia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • Merio Scattola

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