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PUFENDORF'S THEORY OF FACULTATIVE SOVEREIGNTY: ON THE CONFIGURATION OF THE SOUL OF THE STATE

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This article reassesses Samuel Pufendorf's understanding of sovereignty and of the Holy Roman Empire. I argue that the form of the polity theorized by him should be comprehended in light of his adoption of the faculty psychology of Francisco Suárez. Suárez's was a conception of the life of the mind which, Pufendorfmaintained, also operated at the level of the 'composite moral person' of the state. It is true that the sovereign's is the only will in the state that counts politically; but the state has an intellect too, and this may be located in an institution separate from the sovereign. Sovereign will can only function according to the scheme of efficient causality of which faculty psychology forms a component, and thus political absolutism, in which a singular and uncontrollable will is all, is not a necessary feature of Pufendorf's political theory. Moreover, this facultative conception of sovereignty is designed to pertain just as much to composite polities such as the German Empire as to more simple polities.
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Keywords: Francisco Suarez; Holy Roman Empire; Samuel Pufendorf; composite states; constitutionalism; faculty psychology; natural law; sovereignty

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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