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Political Theory and Jurisprudence in Gentili’s De iure belli: The Great Debate between “Theological” and “Humanist” Perspectives from Vitoria to Grotius

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illuminates the "great debate" that modern scholars agree lies at the fountainhead of modern international theory. It examines the role of Hugo Grotius in the great debate. The main protagonists in the debate were Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili. The strategy in studying the great debate is to identify the inner dialectic that forged new and distinctly modern structures of discourse on war and international order. According to Vitoria, the strictly jurisdictional character of peace found its substantive expression in the two basic purposes that the victor-judge must realise in making peace: "restitution"/"reparation" and "punishment". Gentili, as a champion of the humanist perspective, addresses the issues of empire and international order. When Gentili shifted his focus from the theme of the natural justice of war to that of the moral greatness, the idea of the ethical value of empire itself tended to gain prominence in his thinking.

Keywords: Alberico Gentili; Francisco de Vitoria; Hugo Grotius; humanism; jurisdictional character; modern international theory; natural justice of war

10.1163/9789004261655_008
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