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be effected without the application of such terms and notions. Hence, the end of them is plainly to be discovered, which is not like that of natural beings, the perfection of the universe, but the particular perfection of human conduct.
The second chapter is on the “Certainty of Moral Science." It had been an established persuasion amongst the generality of learned men, that moral knowledge is destitute of that certainty which is found especially in mathematics. The foundation of this notion has been, that they have taken morality to be incapable of demonstration, from whence only true science, free from the fear of error, can proceed ; and they imagine that all its evidence rises no higher than a probable opinion. Aristotle has contributed not a little to this, when he said that honesty and justice have so many different faces, and are liable to so many mistakes, that they seem to be only instituted by law, and not originally decreed by nature.?
Puffendorf does not assent to the doctrine of some writers, that there are several things honest, or dishonest, of themselves, He argues that dishonesty and turpitude are affections of human deeds, arising from their agreeableness, or disagreeableness, to a rule or a law; and since a law is the command of a superior, he does not understand how we can conceive any goodness, or turpitude, before all law, and without the imposition of a superior; and he considers that those who would establish an eternal rule for the morality of actions, without respect to the divine injunction and constitution, join with God some coeval extrinsi. cal principle, which he was obliged to follow in assigning the forms and essences of things. God created man according to his own free will; how then should it come to pass, that the actions of mankind should be vested with any affection or quality proceeding from intrinsical and absolute necessity, with. out regard to the institution and pleasure of the Creator ? 3
In the first book diffused chapters* follow upon the understanding of man, as it concurs to moral actions; and upon the qualities, estimation, and imputation of moral actions. The second book starts with the proposition, that it is not 1 Book i. chap. 1, sec. 3.
? Book i. chap. 2, sec. 1. 3 Book i. chap. 2, sec. 6.
* Book i. chaps. 3-9.
agreeable to the nature of man to live without laws. He then attempts to discuss the natural state of man, abstracted from all the rules and institutions, whether of human invention or of the suggestion and revelation of Heaven. By this wide exemption are excluded not only all the various arts and improvements, and the universal culture of life, but especially civil conjunctions and societies; by the introducing of which, mankind was first brought under the decent management of order and regularity.1
This natural state of man may be imagined in theory, but is one in which we never have found historically any portion of the human race, and it is a state which, for practical purposes, it is wholly unnecessary to consider.
The theory of Hobbes is next discussed; whether this alleged natural state in regard to other men bears the semblance of war and peace. Hobbes says, “Every man is an enemy to every man, whom he neither serves nor obeys." And again, the state of commonwealths amongst themselves is natural, that is, hostile; and though they cease to fight, yet this intermission must not be called a peace, but a breathing-time, during which each enemy, observing the motions and the countenance of the other, rates his security, not by covenant, but by the strength and the designs of his adversary. After discussing this opinion, Puffendorf ends by admitting that the desire of peace is too weak and uncertain a security for its preservation amongst mankind.3
Since, then, it is inconsistent with the nature and the condition of man that he should live entirely loose from all law, and to perform his actions by a wild and wandering impulse, without regard to any standard, it follows that inquiry should be made into that universal rule of human action to which every man is obliged to conform, as he is a reasonable creature. The law of nature does not depend upon the consent of nations, but the principles of right are to be discovered by natural reason. The dictates of right reason are true principles, which agree with the nature of things, well observed and examined. And the true original of the law of nature is derived from the condition of man. Man is an animal desirous of his own preservation, exposed 1 Book ii. chap. 2, sec. 1.
. De Cive, chap. 9, sec. 3. 3 Book ii. chap.
4 Book ii, chap. 3, secs. 13, 14.
to many wants, unable to secure his own safety and maintenance without assistance, and capable of returning kindness by the furtherance of mutual good; but he is as powerful in effecting mischief as he is ready in designing it. Now, that such a creature may be preserved and supported, and may enjoy the good things attending his condition of life, it is necessary that he be social. This, then, will appear a fundamental law of nature; that every man ought, as far as in him lies, to promote and preserve a peaceable sociability with others, agreeable to the end and disposition of the human race. By the term Sociability, Puffendorf implies such a disposition of one man towards all others as shall suppose him united to them by benevolence, by peace, and by charity.
Reason is not the law of nature itself, but the means, upon a right application of which, that law is to be discovered.?
Puffendorf discusses the proposition, whether the law of nations be distinct from the law of nature. Hobbes divided natural law into the natural law of men, and the natural law of states, commonly called “the law of nations." He observed that the precepts of both are the same, but that, for as much as states, when they are once instituted, assume the personal proprieties of men, hence it comes to pass that what we term the law of nature when speaking of the duty of particular men, we term the law of nations when we apply it to whole states, nations, or peoples : with this opinion Puffendorf coincides.
The best division of natural law, is into duties towards ourselves and towards others. Self-defence is discussed with needless prolixity; yet it is important as the first principle from which springs the right of public punishment, and the right of the state to exercise the public force, and the public government, for the preservation of all.3 Chapters follow upon the right and privileges of necessity, and upon the measure of damages where injury is done: in these details much is borrowed from the Roman law.
The second chapter of the third book is upon “the Natural Equality of Mankind.” Besides that affection which every man maintains for his own life, and body, and possessions, by which 1 Book ii. chap. 3, sec. 15.
? Sec, 20. 3 Book ii. chap. 5.
he cannot but resist, and repel, whatever threatens destruction to those dear concerns; we may discover likewise, deeply rooted in his mind, a most tender esteem and value for himself, which if any one endeavour to impair, he is seldom less, and sometimes much more, incensed, than if a mischief had been offered to his person, or to his estate. This passion is in the very constitution of human nature. The word “man” is thought to carry dignity in its sound, and is commonly resorted to as the last argument against an insult. Under natural equality, how much soever a man may surpass his neighbours as to bodily or intellectual endowments, he is still obliged to pay all natural duties. 1
Puffendorf then discusses the common duties of humanity; : the duty of keeping faith, and the diversity of obligations to it;3 -the nature of promises and covenants in general ;4—the consent required in making promises and covenants ;5—the matter of promises and covenants, and their conditions. Promises are divided into perfect and imperfect. Imperfect promises, or nuda pacta, seem to be obligatory, by the rules of veracity, and for the sake of maintaining confidence amongst men, rather than in strict justice. Promises are invalidated by error; and fraud in either party annuls a contract, at the option of the other.
The fourth book commences with a disquisition on the use and origin of speech ; and then proceeds to the obligation which attends speech. A lie is a violation of a right, which Puffendorf derives from a tacit contract amongst mankind that words, or signs of intention, shall be used in a definite sense which others may understand.
The second chapter of the fourth book is on the sanctity of an oath. An oath is a religious asseveration by which we either renounce the mercy or imprecate the vengeance of Heaven, if we speak not the truth.7 An oath must be taken only in the name of God, and according to the religion of him that swears. Since in promises, consent grounded upon mistake is not effectual towards producing an obligation, therefore an oath is not
1 Book iii. chap. 2. Chap. 3. 3 Chap. 4. * Chap. 5. • Chap. 6.
Chaps. 7 and 8. 7 Book iv. chap. 2, secs. 1-4.
binding, in case it be evidently made out that the person who swore supposed some matter to be otherwise than it really proves to be, and which if he had not supposed, he would not have taken the oath; but oaths obtained by deceit or fear, or to perform things unlawful, are not binding.
The constitution of man is such that it cannot be preserved by its own internal substance, but needs continually to take in the assistance of certain things from without, as well for its nourishment and support, as for its defence against those many enemies which seek to ruin and dissolve its frame.
Puffendorf then enters into the question of destroying living creatures for the purposes of food, and justifies it on the following singular argument. No mutual right or obligation passes between men and brutes, nor ought to pass by the direction of nature; for we neither find that the law of nature, by virtue of its absolute authority, commands us to maintain friendship and society with brutes, nor are they capable of sustaining any obligation towards men arising from covenant. From which defect of all common right there arises, as it were, a state of war between those who both are able to hurt each other, and upon probable grounds are supposed to be willing.
Puffendorf next treats of the origin of property. Property is defined as a right, by which the very substance of a thing so belongs to one person that it doth not in whole belong after the same manner to any other: property proceeds immediately from an agreement amongst men. There are two qualifications necessary to make the object of dominion or property.” First, it must be able to afford some use to men; secondly, it must be in some way or other so far under the power of men, as that they may fasten on it, and keep it for their occasions. The questions about things which are consumed by their use, about property on the sea, and how far the navigation of the sea should be free, are next considered.3
The methods of acquiring property may be conveniently divided into original and derivative ;-the former are those by which the property of anything was first introduced, the latter
1 Secs. 7–9.
Chap. 5, sec. 1.
3 Book iv. chap. 5, secs. 1-10.