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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 Thought
James Moore

2. Truth and Toleration in the Early Modern Period
Maria Rosa Antognazza

3. The History of the History of Ethics and Emblematic Passages
Aaron 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 Treatises
Kari Saastamoinen

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

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

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

9. Hume’s Peculiar Definition of Justice
James A. Harris

Part III: Rights and Reform

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

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

12. Declaring Rights: Bentham and the Rights of Man
David Lieberman

13. Rights After the Revolutions
Richard Whatmore


About the Author

Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter is Emeritus Professor of Intellectual History in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. He is author of The Secularisation of the Confessional State: The Political Thought of Christian Thomasius (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He is co-editor of Law and Politics in British Colonial Thought (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Essays on Church, State and Politics (Liberty Fund, 2007), The Philosopher in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Heresy in Transition (Ashgate, 2005) and Natural Law and Civil Sovereignty (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

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).


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

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