Abstract and Keywords
Natural law thinking in the early modern world had two principal roots: Greco-Roman moral philosophy and Roman law. These two strands came together in sixteenth-century Spain, from where they influenced the Dutchman Hugo Grotius. Grotius can be seen as the channel through which this thinking reached a pan-European audience. His works, and the works of his followers, came to have an enormous influence on the development of legal thought and practice after the seventeenth century. Ideas of natural law were no longer regarded as dependent on God’s will. A rational structure could be derived from self-evident premises in the law of nature and identification of concrete rules of natural law was regarded as the work of human reason. These features, coupled with its seeming moral objectivity, allowed natural law to provide a template for positive legal systems, and fuelled the move towards codification of law in eighteenth-century Europe.
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