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The Spanish Jesuit Francisco Suárez was one of the most influential scholars of late Catholic natural law. In England he is mostly known for his part in the Jacobean Oath of Allegiance controversy. Most discussions of the controversy look at the Jesuit position as a monolithic block, and frame the controversy itself in terms of an opposition between the radical constitutionalism of the Jesuits and the divine-right absolutism of the royalists. Work by commentators such as Johann Sommerville and Richard Tuck or, more recently, Howell Lloyd and John Salmon, has on the whole expanded upon these dualisms rather than moved beyond them. This article argues that Suárez's political theory is obscured by the radical/absolutist antithesis. Suárez's refusal to choose between the two is fully explained by his treatment of all rights as moral liberties, which persons can (ex)change at will to creatively shape the conditions of their political existence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New Hall, University of Cambridge, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DF., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2008

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