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7 - Sociability

from Part II - Concepts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 September 2021

Randall Lesaffer
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
Janne E. Nijman
Universiteit van Amsterdam
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Connecting sociability with arguments about self-interest and natural law, Grotius adopted an account of moral knowledge and motivation for justice that he found in Cicero.For Grotius, sociability serves as a counter to Epicurean views of moral motivation, but it does not by itself provide the grounds of validity of natural law, nor does it alone ground the obligatory force of natural law.Rather, sociability represents an appeal to a basis in human nature for cooperation in the state of nature.Human beings according to Grotius can be motivated to cooperate and adhere to the rules of natural law, but they are not necessarily so motivated.Importantly, Grotius appreciates that sociability creates its own problems, which Grotius believes can be solved by reason alone.For Grotius, the basis of sociability in human nature is not merely instinctual, but also rational; sociability is ultimately based on a respect for the rights to ‘first things’ such as private property, a respect which itself is motivated by right reason.The notion of sociability was to have an important future in the works of later thinkers such as Hobbes, Pufendorf, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith and Kant.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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Further Reading

Blom, H., ‘Sociability and Hugo Grotius’, History of European Ideas 41 (2015) 589604.Google Scholar
Brooke, C., Philosophic Pride (Princeton, 2012).Google Scholar
Darwall, S., ‘Grotius at the Creation of Modern Moral Philosophy’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 94 (2012) 294325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haggenmacher, P., Grotius et la doctrine de la guerre juste (Paris, 1983).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hont, I., Jealousy of Trade (Cambridge, MA, 2005).Google Scholar
Irwin, T., The Development of Ethics (Oxford, 2008), vol. 2.Google Scholar
Kingsbury, B. and Straumann, B., ‘The state of nature and commercial sociability in early modern international legal thought’, Grotiana N.S. 31 (2010) 2243.Google Scholar
Miller, J., ‘Stoics, Grotius, and Spinoza on moral deliberation’, in Miller, J. and Inwood, B. (eds.), Hellenistic and Early Modern Philosophy (Cambridge, 2003), 116–40.Google Scholar
Piirimäe, E. and Schmidt, A., ‘Introduction: between morality and anthropology – sociability in Enlightenment thought’, History of European Ideas 41 (2015) 571–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sagar, P., The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith (Princeton, 2018).Google Scholar
Schaffner, T., ‘Societas Humana bei Hugo Grotius’, in Altwicker, T., Cheneval, F. and Diggelmann, O. (eds.), Völkerrechtsphilosophie der Frühaufklärung (Tübingen, 2015), 103–16.Google Scholar
Straumann, B., ‘Appetitus societatis and oikeiois: Hugo Grotius’ Ciceronian argument for natural law and just war’, Grotiana N.S. 24/25 (2003/4) 4166.Google Scholar
Straumann, B., Roman Law in the State of Nature. The Classical Foundations of Grotius’ Natural Law (Cambridge, 2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tuck, R., ‘The ‘modern’ theory of natural law’, in Pagden, A. (ed.), The Languages of Political Theory in Early-Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1987), 99119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tuck, R., The Rights of War and Peace. Political Thought and International Order from Grotius to Kant (Oxford, 1999).Google Scholar
Winkel, L., ‘Les origines antiques de l’appetitus societatis de Grotius’, Legal History Review 68 (2000) 393403.Google Scholar

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