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Using, Not Owning-Duties, Not Rights: The Consequences Of Some Franciscan Perspectives On Politics

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Chapter Summary

There has long been an investigation, especially amongst modern political theorists, into the degree to which medieval theology and philosophy have or have not some bearing on modern conceptions of natural rights. This chapter discusses the perspectives of Franciscans, especially Franciscan theologians of the fourteenth century, and what they mean when they used the word ius. Some today think that the older natural law references to ius/iura and the post-Enlightenment reference to natural or human rights say much the same things. The chapter focuses on a language that was especially vibrant amongst Franciscans concerning what is owed to members of our species and how we arrive at this knowledge. The author's perspective attempts a highlighting of duties: to God, oneself and to others, simultaneously downgrading rights without altogether abolishing them, especially in the domain of civil law.

Keywords: civil law; Franciscan theologians; modern political theorists; natural rights



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