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Pufendorfs reconstruction of rationality

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes that the division of the unified programme of natural law into two programmes namely, the 'natural' part and the 'law' part, is reflected in Pufendorf's writings on positive law. It leads on the one hand to an investigation of (human) nature that is meant to be realistic and empirical; on the other hand it tries to provide for moral standards, which are not deduced from 'nature' but from ' imposition'. Pufendorf's theory can indeed be characterised as a mixture of social science and moral theory. The 'rationalist' part of Pufendorf's enterprise, which seeks to develop criteria for a rational justification of human institutions, was to be the starting-point for Kant's deontological ethics with its emphasis on rational standards for legitimation and on the world of Sollen as a world of liberty, responsibility and moral autonomy of human beings.

Keywords: God; human imposition; positive law; Pufendorf's writings; rational justification



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