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A contribution to the current debate on human rights in Europe: Francisco de Vitoria and his concept of natural law in the sixteen century Spain


The debate developed among the EU Member States about implementing a European Constitution keeping into account the key issue of human rights leads the Philosophers Community to reflect on the importance of human rights and their roots in a philosophical & historical context.

Therefore, a project going into Francisco de Vitoria, the founder of the international law, and his meditation on the natural law concept will take a great importance. Investigating the genesis of human rights and their universality to the Thomism and the philosophical & theological meditation of the Escuela de Salamanca can be very useful for casting a new light upon the current debate on human rights and their genesis, thus contributing to outline a new vision - for the EU cannot overlook the historical awareness of the main cultural events whereon Europe has built its current identity in order to be able to shape its future consciously and critically.

Research activities will focus on Francisco de Vitoria commentary on Thomas Aquinas' De Legibus treatise (qq. 90-108 in l-llae Summa Theologiae), to which the Author devoted two courses when teaching at Universidad de Salamanca. According to these assumptions, a project capable of clarifying the relationship between human rights and natural law would be meaningful in view of the questions at the core of the current ethical and political debate. Investigating said relationship and, in particular, going in-depth into the Author's natural law concept, besides lighting the genesis of human rights in the 16th century Europe, can clarify some issues affecting our lives directly, such as, the current debate on core human rights' in a multi-ethnic society.

This project aims at investigating the natural law concept in this Author starting from the Reportationes by students attending his lectures in the academic year 1541-42.

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