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David Boucher

This chapter examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Rousseau before discussing varying interpretations of his ideas, suggesting that, because of his emphasis upon civic virtues and freedom as lack of an insidious form of dependence, the republican tradition best reflects Rousseau's concerns. It then considers Rousseau's distinctive contribution to the idea of the state of nature, noting that the springs of action in his state of nature are not reason are self-preservation and sympathy. It also explores Rousseau's views on private property, social contract, inequality, natural law and natural rights, democracy, religion, and censorship. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Rousseau's concern with freedom and dependence, and how the related issues of slavery and women were relevant for him.


Camilla Boisen

This chapter examines Hugo Grotius' key political ideas. Grotius, one of the most prolific and erudite writers of the seventeenth century, sought to formulate a set of universal rights and duties that would secure peace by constraining states in their internal and external relations. Drawing on a wide range of philosophical and literary sources, including Roman law, ancient classics, theology, and poetry, Grotius rehabilitated the natural law in an attempt to achieve harmony in an increasingly splintered political environment. After providing a short biography of Grotius, the chapter analyses his views on natural law, natural rights, property rights, sociability, self-preservation, and social contracts. It also discusses Grotius' arguments regarding international order in the context of just war theory and punishment and concludes with an assessment of Grotius' legacy in the area of political thought.