Cary J. Nederman

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195379488
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This article examines some dimensions of three concepts of rights as they resonated in the political and legal philosophy of the Middle Ages: legal rights, natural rights, and human rights. It aims to unravel some of the complexities involved in the “overlapping” of systems of legal rights with reference to John of Paris, who rejected simplistic or reductionistic accounts of supreme authority over persons and goods. The article also evaluates the strengths and limitations of recent scholarship's efforts to identify the origins of natural rights theory in various ideas of ius naturale propounded by medieval legal, philosophical, and theological thinkers, looking at work of Michel Villey and Brian Tierney. Lastly, it aims to show that several languages of rights found during the Middle Ages can be shown to possess coherence and cogency.

Keywords: legal rights; natural rights; human rights; John of Paris; ius naturale; Michel Villey; Brian Tierney

Article.  9305 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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