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The Moral Person of the State: Pufendorf, Sovereignty and Composite Polities

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The Moral Person of the State: Pufendorf, Sovereignty and Composite Polities

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This is the first detailed study in any language of the single most influential theory of the modern state: Samuel von Pufendorf’s account of the state as a ‘moral person’. Ben Holland reconstructs the theological and political contexts in and for which Pufendorf conceived of the state as being a person. Pufendorf took up an early Christian conception of personality and a medieval conception of freedom in order to fashion a theory of the state appropriate to continental Europe, and which could head off some of the absolutist implications of a rival theory of state personality, that of Hobbes. The book traces the fate of the concept in the hands of others – international lawyers, moral philosophers and revolutionaries – until the early twentieth century. It will be essential reading for historians of political thought and for those interested in the development of key ideas in theology, international law and international relations.

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