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On the Ancient Background of Grotius's Notion of Natural Law

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Grotius's notion of natural law is, as he himself makes clear, founded upon two demands of nature, which are to be connected with what is now known as the Stoic doctrine of appropriation. However, Grotius's understanding of the notion of natural law as a set of rules is not Stoic, but rather goes back to an interpretation that can be ascribed to Antiochus of Ascalon. By moving away from the Stoics Grotius could not only easily accommodate the Aristotelian doctrine of equity, otherwise rejected by the Stoics, but he could also formulate a minimalistic interpretation of human dispositions or 'rights', in contrast to the Stoics' maximalistic understanding of these dispositions as virtues.


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