Philosophy, Rights and Natural Law

Essays in Honour of Knud Haakonssen

Edited by Ian Hunter, Richard Whatmore

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A celebratory collection of essays on philosophy, rights and natural law, inspired by the work of Knud Haakonssen

Over his long and illustrious career, Knud Haakonssen has explored the role of natural law in formulating doctrines of obligation and rights in accordance with the interests of early modern polities and churches. A hallmark of his approach has been to show how natural law in early modern Europe was not a unified doctrine, but a field of crosscutting idioms that prosecuted competing political and juridical programmes.

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Part I: Rights, Religion and Morality

1. Calvinists, Arminians, Socinians: Popular Sovereignty and Natural Rights in Early Modern Political ThoughtJames Moore

2. Truth and Toleration in the Early Modern PeriodMaria Rosa Antognazza

3. The History of the History of Ethics and Emblematic PassagesAaron Garrett

4. Natural law and Natural Rights in Early Enlightenment Copenhagen Mads Jensen

Part II: Natural Law and the Philosophers

5. Natural Equality and Natural Law in Locke’s Two TreatisesKari Saastamoinen

6. Dignity and Equality in Pufendorf’s Natural Law TheorySimone Zurbuchen

7. Theory and Practice in the Natural Law of Christian ThomasiusIan Hunter

8. The 'iura connata' in the Natural Law of Christian WolffFrank Grunert

9. Hume’s Peculiar Definition of JusticeJames A. Harris

Part III: Rights and Reform

10. Economising Natural Law: Pufendorf on Moral Quantities and Sumptuary LegislationMichael Seidler

11. The Legacy of Smith’s Jurisprudence in Late-Eighteenth-Century EdinburghJohn W. Cairns

12. Declaring Rights: Bentham and the Rights of ManDavid Lieberman

13. Rights After the RevolutionsRichard Whatmore


No-one has done more than Knud Haakonssen to facilitate and lead the study of Protestant Natural Law in early modern Europe, and to explain its significance for moral and political philosophy. This volume repays that achievement with an excellent set of essays on the subject. A combination of outstanding contributors, well-chosen topics, and broad geographical coverage ensures that the volume is not only an apt tribute to Haakonssen, but will be an essential reference-point for future development of the field.
John Robertson, Professor Emeritus of the History of Political Thought, University of Cambridge
Richard Whatmore is Professor of History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History. He is the author of What is Intellectual History? (Polity, 2015), Against War and Empire (Yale University Press, 2012) and Republicanism and the French Revolution (OUP, 2000). He is the co-editor of Commerce and Peace in the Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Companion to Intellectual History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), David Hume (Ashgate, 2013), Advances in Intellectual History (Palgrave, 2006) and Economy, Polity and Society: Essays in British Intellectual History, 2 volumes (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

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