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Rights & Wrongs PtIII: Grotius and the Racialisation of Slavery

11 June 2014

Cross-posted from The Molinist.
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This is part three of a three part series.

Perhaps ironically, perhaps inevitably, the conflict between slave economics and rights becomes perhaps most acute in the very man credited with giving birth to the modern language of rights: Hugo Grotius. The Dutch Jurist Hugo Grotius is often considered the most important figure in 17th century intellectual history: the seculariser of natural law, father of social contract theory, originator of modern ideas of rights. While these ideas are wildly overstated, they certainly reflect the profound influence with Grotius had and continues to have. Grotius’s though in slavery was likewise influence, not present a coherent theory on the topic, as it is never a topic which he explores explicitly or at length. Rather, in true humanistic style, Grotius, adorned with more citations and references than any reasonable human being could possibly deem necessary, or helpful, flits lightly between Roman war slavery, Aristotelian natural slavery, and Molinist voluntary slavery, alighting on each as it suits his rhetorical end at the moment…

Continued at The Molinist

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