GROTIUS AND PUFENDORF ON THE RIGHT OF NECESSITY

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Abstract:

Grotius and Pufendorf upheld the principle that a person in extreme and unavoidable need, who took from the surpluses of property holders, was not guilty of the crime of theft. Grotius theorized this exception to the law of property as a revival of the original common use right, thus continuing a long-standing tradition of thought according to which in extremis all goods are regarded as common. Pufendorf’s engagement with Hobbes led him to reject the Grotian theory of the revival of the common use right. He tried to construct an alternative theory by making use of his concepts of imperfect rights and duties, but he had no way of expressing the lawfulness of the actions of the necessitous poor in terms of the imperfect duties of the rich. As a result Pufendorf failed to produce a coherent alternative to the Grotian theory.
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