Vitoria, the common good and the limits of political power

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This chapter focuses on the relationship between Vitoria’s notion of the common good (deeply embedded in the Thomist tradition but bringing with it some significant innovations) and his understanding of the limits of political power, both conceptually and in terms of its practical exercise. In order to shed light on that relationship, this chapter starts by laying out the fundamental aspects of Vitoria’s traditional understanding of the common good in the context of a developing notion of individual rights that was to become central in modern political thought. The main theoretical implications of this understanding concerning limits on the extension and exercise of legitimate political power as understood by Vitoria are analysed and four prominent applications of Vitoria’s conceptions about the limits of political power are discussed, namely concerning the controversial issue of legitimate resistance to abuses of political power, the role of ius gentium in establishing universal limits to the power of states in international affairs, the just war theory and the autonomy of Church and state. This chapter concludes with a brief reflection on the relevance of Vitoria’s contributions in this specific area of political thought.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in the history of law and justice
Subtitle of host publicationFrancisco de Vitoria and the discovery of international law
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783319629988
ISBN (Print)9783319629971, 9783319874494
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in the History of Law and Justice
ISSN (Print)2198-9842
ISSN (Electronic)2198-9850


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