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Individual Rights And Common Good: Henry Of Ghent And The Scholastic Origins Of Human Rights

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Chapter Summary

It is still widely believed that the recognition of the existence of a sphere of inalienable individual subjective rights is an essentially modern phenomenon, arising from the reflections of Hobbes, Locke and Pufendorf. Due to the peculiar nature of quodlibetal production, as well as to the way in which Henry of Ghent conceived the role and duties of the theologian his Quodlibeta cover a broad range of topics, including social ethics, politics and economics. Though one of Thomas Aquinas' arguments refers to the ius naturale of self-preservation as the source of the right to resistance, his solution is actually based on the distinction between a just and an unjust condemnation. This chapter discusses Henry's quaestio on the legitimacy of flight for someone condemned to death. It considers a presupposition underlying Henry's position, that is, the primacy of individual good over common good, as stated in q. 19 of Quodlibet IX.

Keywords: Henry of Ghent; individual subjective rights; Quodlibeta; Thomas Aquinas



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