Esteem and Sociality in Pufendorf's Natural Law Theory

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Samuel Pufendorf's major work on natural law, De jure nature et gentium, included a long chapter on the power of the civil sovereign to determine the value of citizens. There, Pufendorf identified several forms of esteem (existimatio), according to which human beings are ranked in social life. The article argues that behind Pufendorf's discussion of this topic was the idea that the way people esteem others and want others to esteem them has profound consequences for maintaining peaceful social life and is therefore morally regulated by the fundamental natural-law duty to maintain sociality. The article explores the key elements of Pufendorf's multifaceted analyses of esteem, making apparent how they were connected to sociality. The article also analyses Pufendorf's argument for the duty to esteem other humans as one's equals by nature, questioning the view that this relied on the idea of human dignity understood as an intrinsic value of human beings. Pufendorf's argument for this duty was a part of same project as his analyses of existimatio, namely, to define how natural law regulates the way human beings esteem each other, and it relied on his observations concerning the character of human self-esteem.

TidskriftBritish Journal for the History of Philosophy
Sidor (från-till)265-283
Antal sidor19
StatusPublicerad - mars 2024
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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