December 20, 2012
NDPR on Interpreting Suárez
A major task for Catholic legal theory, I think, is to recover and appropriate figures from the tradition who are today neglected, misinterpreted, and forgotten. So I was pleased to come across this review in the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews of a new and promising collection of essays from Cambridge University Press on the great Spanish Jesuit scholastic Francisco Suárez (1548-1617)--even if Suárez took some wrong turns, the wrong turns are themselves important for understanding the Catholic legal tradition. Here's a bit from the review:
[Thomas] Pink concludes his chapter on "Action and freedom in Suárez's Ethics" with a section on "The Hobbesian Critique" which serves to bring into relief the fundamental differences that account for the shift from the Scholastic view that freedom is constituted by law to the modern view that it is limited by law. Pink, in discussing the positions Suárez takes within the broader Scholastic, practical-reason-based approach, also draws helpful contrasts between Suárez's distinctive views and arguments and those of influential contemporaries such as Vasquez and Punch. Finally, [Terence] Irwin's chapter on "Obligation, rightness, and natural law: Suárez and some critics" gives an extremely sensitive, in-depth examination of key texts, showing contra Finnis and Pink that Suárez has a coherent theory of obligation, that his sense of 'obligatio' as distinct from duty fits at least some contemporaneous uses, and that his view is not inconsistent with Aquinas'. Both chapters will be of great interest to historians of philosophy, ethicists and political philosophers alike. Indeed, all chapters in this volume are well-executed and will appeal to more than one type of reader.
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