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The Idea of Natural Rights: Studies on Natural Rights, Natural Law, and Church Law, 1150-1625 (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion (Eerdmans)) Paperback – 1 Jan 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Reprint edition (1 Jan 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802848540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802848543
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
In a long series of studies, published over the period of forty years, Michel Villey has made notable contributions to our understanding of legal history. Read the first page
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By Vikki on 14 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant insight into medieval conceptualisations of natural rights theories, although by no means a definitive account.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Marks on 3 Jun 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Tierney holds that all the writers of what used to be called the "Middle Ages" held that human rights included "positive rights" - goods and services at the compulsory expense of others, "compulsory charity" (dry rain, square circle).

Nor does Tierney accept that one can support "natual law" rather than "natural rights" - he claims that the old writers used both terms (mixed together in their writings - in their thought) so one can not say "well I reject this human rights stuff - I will go back to natural law".

For those who believe such concepts as "complusory charity" are an offense against human reason (just as a "square circle" is), and the idea that the basic needs of the population can (and should) be provided by the threat of VIOLENCE (whether by the state or by private criminals) is unsustainable, in both moral and economic terms, this is a problem.

Were pro freedom (pro LIMITED government) people totally unrepresented in "pre modern" thought? Did all writers (theologians, legal writers.....) really agree that the basic needs of everyone should be provided by the threat of violence? Did no one have a basic grasp of logic so that doctrines such as "compulsory charity" (dry rain, square circle) were just accepted rather than laughed at? Or did the threat of being burned at the stake deal with the problem of theological and philosphical dissent? Or is Brian Tierney trying to justify the present by claiming that everyone agreed with the fashionable doctrines of "positive rights" that now dominate - even agreed with these doctrines many centuries ago. A bit like the old Russian saying "first they smash your face in - then they say you were always ugly".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Natural rights have an origin in medieval thought. 15 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Natural rights historians and scholars have expressed numerous opinions regarding the origins of the western notion of natural rights. Tierney argues that the development of natural rights form the basis of the whole western natural rights tradition, and that scholastic philosophers employed concepts of natural rights in their reasoning as early as the thirteenth century. Citing the Franciscan poverty dispute, Tierney demonstrates that it had a lasting impact on the development of western notions of rights. Finally, Tierney's account of the ways in which the concept of natural rights--a medieval notion--made its way to the modern world is original and insightful. Future scholarly work on the origins of the western natural rights tradition must build on Tierney's findings.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
human rights theory before Locke 10 Nov 2006
By jerry kendall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Brian Tierney, Professor Emeritus at Cornell has written the book on the genesis of modern natural rights thinking that all future scholars and students of the subject will have to digest. It is a common understanding that modern natural rights thinking began in the Enlightenment with the likes of Hobbes and Locke. Other claimants for the title include Grotius in the 17th century, the theologian Jean Gerson in the 15th century, earlier still Ockham, and Aquinas. Tierney argues that in fact it is in the thinking of the canon lawyers of the 12th and 13th centuries that one can discern the beginnings of modern natural rights thinking.

This history of natural rights thinking between 1150 and 1625 is relevant to the important contemporary questions of whether natural rights is a "western" or more universal notion; of the scope or content of the idea of natural rights; of how the earlier classical and medieval ideas of natural rights relate to the modern notions; and of how natural law, the laws of nature, and natural rights, relate if at all.

Because much of the discussion is about the meaning and understanding of medieval latin terms one regrets not paying more attention in high school latin class. That said Tierney makes it as easy as it can be with his lucid analytic style. Working ones way through this classic is well worth the effort.
14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Table of Contents 10 Mar 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
ACKNOWLDGEMENTS/ CITATIONS/ INTRODUCTION/ Modern Problems and Historical Approaches/ CHAPTER I/ Villey, Ockham and the Origin of/ Individual Rights/ Classical Roman Law/ Individual Rights and Roman Law/ Aquinas and the Canoninsts: Ius and Lex/ Ockham's "Revolution"/ Objections to Villey/ Alternative Approaches/ CHAPTER II/ Origins of Natural Rights Language: Texts and Contexts, 1150-1250/ The Question of Origins/ Sources of Modern Rights Language/ Canonistic Rights Language-Contexts/ Canonistic Rights Language-Texts/ Need and Natural Right/ Conclusion/ CHAPTER III/ Rights and Duties: A Quaestio of Henry of Ghent/ A Prisoner's Dilema/ Ownership of Self/ CHAPTER IV/ The Beginning of Dispute/ From Francis to Ockham/ Approaches to Ockham/ CHAPTER V/ Languages of Rights/ Hervaeus Natalis. Ius and Potestas/ Marsiliuis of Padua/ William of Ockham, Ius Poli and Lex/ Conclusion/ CHAPTER VI/ Property, Natural Right and the State of Nature/ Problems of First Acquisition/ Civilians, Canonists, and Theologians/ Bonagratia of Bergamo and John XXII/ Ockham on Property/ CHAPTER VII/ William of Ockham, Rights and Some Problems of Political Thought/ Origins of Jurisdiction/ Varieties of Natural Law/ Absolutism and Natural Rights/ A Rights-Based Political Theory?/ CHAPTER VIII/ Postscript/ CHAPTER IX/ Gerson, Conciliarism, Corporatism, and Individualism/ Individual and Community/ Tuck on Gerson/ Rights and Reform/ Ius and Dominium/ Chapter X/ Almain, Mair, Summenhart/ Medieval Survivals/ Mair, Rights and Needs/ Summenhart, Varieties of Dominion/ CHAPTER XI/ Aristotle and the American Indians/ Vitoria, Acquinas and Natural Rights/ Vitoria, Rights and Indians/ Las Casas, Indians and Rights/ CHAPTER XII/ Rights, Community, and Sovereign/ Vitoria. Sovereignty and Divine Right/ Saurez, Sovereignty and Natural Rights/ CHAPTER XIII/ Grotius. From Medieval to Modern/ The Question of Modernity/ Natural Law and Natural Rights/ The Right to Property/ Individuals, Society,and Sovereignty/ CONCLUSION/ BIBLIOGRAPHY/
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