Reason and Obligation in Suárez

Thomas Pink

in The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199583645
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738456 | DOI:
Reason and Obligation in Suárez

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In this essay it is argued that Suárez fundamentally altered the traditional conception of obligation and laid the groundwork for the modern one. According to Suárez the obligatoriness of the moral law does not lie in the power of the law-giver as judge and punisher but rather lies in the rationality of the directives of the moral law itself. It is argued that this is best understood as a distinctive kind of justificatory force within practical reason that is inherent to an action, ‘the force of Demand.’ It is this special force that grounds praise and blame. The reception of this model of obligatoriness is traced among seventeenth-century natural law theorists—Grotius, Pufendorf and Locke—and it is argued that although Grotius and Pufendorf accepted Suárez’s account Locke reverted to the traditional conception.

Keywords: Francisco Suárez; Hugo Grotius; Samuel Pufendorf; John Locke; moral obligation; natural law; practical reason

Chapter.  19110 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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