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It is often said that the Babylonian laws, especially the Laws of Hammurabi, are not as humane as other ancient laws such as the laws of the Bible, because Hammurabi’s laws track hierarchical social status rather than treating all equally before the law.
This chapter is about the origins of criminal law in ancient times. It is often claimed that ancient societies lack a conception of crime – treating all harms as civil wrongs (what we call “torts” today).
What is characteristic of some of international law is that there are rules that are seen to apply to most States, at least in a significant region of the world, and the rules have a bindingness that extends beyond the particular borders of those States.
One of the most metaphysically fraught concepts in legal thought is causation. Yet, despite being published in ancient Athens, the Tetralogies (attributed to Antiphon) provide a fascinating account of causation that even legal theorists today can appreciate.
In light of the move toward an acceptance of universal law at the end of the ancient period, we also can find very clear expressions of the Just War doctrine, the view that only some wars were morally justified on very limited grounds, which were spelled out in detail.