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The great eighteenth-century theorist of international law Emer de Vattel (1714 1767) was a key figure in sustaining the practical and theoretical influence of natural jurisprudence through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Coming toward the end of the period when the discourse of natural law was dominant in European political theory, Vattel’s contribution is cited as a major source of contemporary wisdom on questions of international law in the American Revolution and even by opponents of revolution, such as Cardinal Consalvi, at the Congress of Vienna of 1815.
Vattel broadly accepted the early-modern natural law theorists from Grotius onward but placed himself in the tradition of Leibniz and Christian Wolff. This becomes particularly clear in two valuable early essays that have never before been translated and are included in the present volume. On this philosophical basis he established what the proper relationship should be between natural law as it is applied to individuals and natural law as it is applied to states.
The significance of The Law of Nations resides in its distillation from natural law of an apt model for international conduct of state affairs that carried conviction in both the Old Regime and the new political order of 1789 1815.
The Liberty Fund edition is based on the anonymous English translation of 1797, which includes Vattel’s notes for the second French edition (posthumous, 1773).
Emer de Vattel (1714 1767) was a Swiss philosopher and jurist in the service of Saxony.
Béla Kapossy is Professeur Suppléant of History at the University of Lausanne.
Richard Whatmore is a Reader in Intellectual History at the University of Sussex.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.
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Bela Kapossy is Professor in Modern History at the University of Lausanne.
RICHARD WHATMORE is Reader in Intellectual History and Head of History Department at the University of Sussex. BRIAN YOUNG is Lecturer in History at Christ Church College, Oxford.
Text: English, French (translation)
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