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International Law and ReligionHistorical and Contemporary Perspectives$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Mónica García-Salmones Rovira, and Paolo Amorosa

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805878.001.0001

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Between Scylla and Charybdis

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Aquinas’s Political Thought and His Notion of Natural Law and Ius Gentium

Chapter:
(p.43) 2 Between Scylla and Charybdis
Source:
International Law and Religion
Author(s):

Pia Valenzuela

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198805878.003.0003

In the process of secularization of legal institutions, the thirteenth century—with all its political conflicts between emperors and popes—is relevant to understand the evolution of those institutions in modernity. Contextualized in that period, this chapter shows the importance of Aquinas’s line of thought about the common good, law, and right in this process. In general, the context of Aquinas’s era and his personal circumstances were characterized by tensions between two perilous alternatives, the imperial and the papal power. Because of this, Aquinas was cautious to express his opinion in specific political issues of the time. This chapter argues that, in spite of Aquinas’s caution in putting forward his political ideas, the essence of his political thought and his opposition to the theocratic theory of government could be inferred also from his notions of natural law and ius gentium, in which he addressed the basic issues of property rights and slavery.

Keywords:   Aquinas, political thought, common good, theocratic theory, secularization, natural law, ius gentium, property rights, slavery

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