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Natural Law, Religion and Global Contact

Core reading

  • Jonathan Witte Jr., The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Modern Calvinism (Cambridge, 2003), intro + chapter 2.
  • Richard Tuck, ‘The “Modern” Theory of Natural Law’ in Anthony Pagden (ed.), The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1987), 99-120 [Tuck reading].


Further reading

Jack Donnelly, ‘Human Rights as Natural Rights’, Human Rights Quarterly 4:3 (Autumn 1982), 391-405.

Ernst Troeltsch, ‘The Ideas of Natural Law and Humanity in Politics’ in Otta Grierke, Natural Law and the Theory of Society: 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 1934).

Richard Tuck, Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development (Cambridge, 1982).

Brian Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights (Emory, 1997).

Michael A. Freeman, ‘Origins: The Rise and Fall of Natural Rights’, in Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011 [2nd edition]), 15-37.

Anthony Pagden, ‘Dispossessing the Barbarian: The Language of Spanish Thomism and the Debate over the Property Rights of the American Indians’ in Pagden (ed.), The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1987), 79-98.

Charles J. Reid, ‘The Canonistic Contribution to the Western Rights Tradition: An Historical Inquiry’, Boston College Law Review 33: 1 (1991), 37-92.


Primary sources:

Montaigne, ‘Apology for Raymond Sebond’, in Essays, online versions widely available.

Bartolome de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians (widely available online)