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23 - Jacques Maritain


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2019

Olivier Descamps
Pantheon-Assas University, Paris
Rafael Domingo
Emory University, Atlanta
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This chapter identifies some of the major themes and contributions made by the French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), to the philosophy of law and to human rights. While Maritain’s views on law follow, in many respects, those of St Thomas Aquinas, they reflect Maritain’s distinctive personalist philosophy and his important distinction between the individual and the person. Maritain also provides an explicit critique and alternative to the dominant, primarily positivist views of his time. His arguments for human rights served to influence Catholic social teaching and played a role in the reception and, arguably, the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Even today, Maritain’s philosophy of law and political philosophy continue to be of interest to philosophers, historians, and jurists alike.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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Recommended Reading

Barré, Jean-Luc. Jacques et Raïssa Maritain, les mendiants du ciel. Paris: Stock, 1996. English translation: Jacques & Raïssa Maritain: Beggars for Heaven. Translated by Doering, Bernard E.. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.Google Scholar
BrennanPatrick McKinley. “Jacques Maritain: Philosopher of Law, Politics, and All That Is.” In The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, edited by Witte, John Jr. and Alexander, Frank, vol. 2, 3467. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
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Hittinger, F. Russell. “Maritain on Human Rights as Constitutional Limits.” Paper presented at New York University, sponsored by Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs and The American Maritain Association. Nov. 9, 1994.Google Scholar
Hittinger, John P. Liberty, Wisdom, and Grace: Thomism and Democratic Political Theory. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2002.Google Scholar
Nielsen, Kai. “An Examination of the Thomistic Theory of Natural [Moral] Law.” In Natural Law Forum 4 (1959): 4471. Reprinted in Nielsen, God and the Grounding of Morality, 41–68. Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press, 1991.Google Scholar
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