Juridical Contributions of Las Casas...

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JURIDICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF LAS CASAS AND VITORIA Author(s): Edward James SCHUSTER Source: Revista de Historia de América, No. 61/62 (ENERO-DICIEMBRE DE 1966), pp. 133-157 Published by: Pan American Institute of Geography and History Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41307338 . Accessed: 23/04/2013 11:34 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit
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  JURIDICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF LAS CASAS AND VITORIAAuthor(s): Edward James SCHUSTERSource: Revista de Historia de América, No. 61/62 (ENERO-DICIEMBRE DE 1966), pp. 133-157Published by: Pan American Institute of Geography and History Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41307338. Accessed: 23/04/2013 11:34 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . Pan American Institute of Geography and History is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to  Revista de Historia de América. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 130.184.237.6 on Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:34:16 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  JURIDICALCONTRIBUTIONSOFLAS CASASANDVITORIAInconsideringthejuridicalcontributions of BartolomedeLas CasasandFranciscode Yitoriaintheir combinedeffects,itisdesirable to evaluatesystematicallya mass ofdiverse,seeminglyun-relatedmaterial.Amongthesewritingswediscern, first,apreoc-cupationwith immediate issues and situationswhichcalledforapragmatic yetethically-oriented approachtolegaland moralques-tions.In the courseof theseinvestigationsthere aroseseveralcorol-lary topics,whoseexplorationandanalysisresulted in substantialadditions tojurisprudence.Moreoverthesestudies,discourses,me-morials,lettersandrelectiones,as wellaspolemicaland historicalwritingsassociatedwithproblemsofconquestandcolonization,hadbothimmediateandlong-rangeeffects.Inevaluatingthese contributionsit is useful to recall traditionaland antecedentjuridical,ethical,andreligious conceptswhichin-fluencedandpartlydeterminedthethinkingandreasoningofLasCasasandVitoria.Amongtheirsignificantjuridicalcontributionswe note modificationsof earlierattitudes,as wellassrcinal,ratherfar-reachinginnovations:1)Clarificationandapplicationof ethicstopositivelaw;2)Developmentoftheconceptof the naturallaw,withmodificationsandcontemporary applicationsofThomisticdoctrineandmethods;3)Subordinationofthepositivelaw, e.g.,Romanlaw,toethicalconsiderations,thatis thespiritof thelaw;4)Developmentoftheideas of human freedomandhuman133 This content downloaded from 130.184.237.6 on Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:34:16 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  EdwardJameschuster,h.D.R. H. A.NCims.1-62rightsintheirsociological,economic,andpsychologicalas wellastheirpolitical implications;5Newinterpretationsoflegalstructuresandofinstitutionsassubordinatetohuman values andinterestspredicatedonthenaturallaw;6)Extensionandapplicationoftheseconclusionsto socio-politicalproblems,thatis,tocontemporaryquestions.In theseexpositionsand studiestheconceptof thenaturallaivisbasic.Acontrastingemphasis, implicitinRomanlaw and laterdevelopedbyHobbesandHegel,cametoregardtheStateas omni-potent,andits mandatesasvalid onthisaccount. Thusapragmatic,socially-orientedinterpretationoflexandjus subsequentlygainedacceptanceinmanyareas.ThispositionledPuffendorfto confusenatural law withanaturalsocial ethic.1Thusthereexisted,bothbeforeVitoriaandafter histime,legalistictendencytoseparatenaturalrightandnaturallaw,equatingthelatter,forpractical pur-poses,withcharacteristicsofthepositiveorcivillaw. Thisapproachviolatedordisregardedthenotionthatanabsoluteethicalnormtranscendsephemeral,utilitarianconsiderationsofaneconomic,sociological,orpoliticalnature,nomatterhowinsistent theselattermaymomentarily appear.As Dr.Rommenobserved:Theideaof a naturalawnecessarily^adto fade *soon sman,whosedignityonsistsnbeingmoralpersonalityith n endbeyondhegrave,wasdividedntoanens morale ndanensuridicumWiththis nmind,anotherevelopmentecomeslear.The newtheoryfthenaturalawacquiredneminentlyoliticalignificance,nlyodisappearlmostntirelya fewcenturiesaterunderheattacksfpositivism.n the otherhand,the naturalawof the Scholasticsadonlyslightpoliticalonnection.tawspurelyhilosophical,etapolitical.t wasnothinglsethan norganicsynthesisfthosenorms fthenaturalawwhichweressociatedith ifeinsociety,ndwhosebjectsidentifiediththatofjustice.For itspart,themoral rderwasbasedentirelyn theontologicalrderfthe essencesofallthingsndofall creatures.helexnaturalis nd withttheusna~turale,reflashes rsparksfthe exaeterna.husamonghe Scholastics1Cf.SamuelPufendorf,DeOffhom.tciv.,,3,c3;HeinrichRom-men,Lateoriadel EstadoydelaComunidadnternationalnFranciscouarez,129(Madrid,951).134 This content downloaded from 130.184.237.6 on Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:34:16 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  Enero-Diciembree1066Juridicalontributionsf Las CasasandVitoriathenaturalaw,despitetsflexibility,cquiredronsoliditynd essentialimmutability. HeinrichRommen,ateoriadel Estado.op.cit.,130).TheImmediateIssuesWenowmayproceedto evaluate theimmediatechallengeswhichconfrontedLasCasasandVitoriainconnectionwiththeNewWorld.It willberecalled thatethicalproblemsandscruplesthat arose becauseofSpanishintrusionintotheNewWorld,mis-treatment ofindigenousAmericans,expropriationof theirpersonsandproperty,displacementof theirrulers,occasioned the discus-sions,controversies,polemicalandhistoricalwritingsof thesetwoDominicans.TheirstudiesprobedlegalandmoralimplicationsofSpain'sactions,and ledto reexamination offundamentals.Intheirlives andwritingsthere wasamarkeddifferenceinthetemperamentand methodsof thesetwo men.thoughthehar-monyof theirconclusionsbasedonidenticalassumptionsorpre-mises,reflects howthese differencescomplementedoneanother.Vitoriapossessedahighlytrainedintellect,wasconcernwithrationalargumentswhich served todevelophisanalysisandsynthesis.Hewasmotivatedby religious zeal,byloveandcompassionfor hisfellowmen;buthisstyleandmethodologyrevealaprimarilyintel-lectualanddispassionate,rational orientation. LasCasas,ontheotherhand,while trainedinphilosophy,theology,jurisprudenceandlogic,conditionedbyintensive,sometimesrigidScholasticmethodsof sixteenthcentury Spain,wasmore emotionalinhisapproach.Zealforrighteousness,vehemencearisingfroman offendedsenseofjustice,inflamedhisnaturalsympathyforhis fellowmen,andendowedhimwithdeterminationandperseverence.These wouldtoleratenosubtletyofspeciousargument,ashisangercutthroughthecynicalsubterfugesofthosewho distrustman'sinnate andin-finitepotential,thosewhoseethepriorityofpropertyrightsoverpersonalrights.Theimmediateissues were indeedsuchasto arouseall whowere sensitivetohuman needsandelementaryjustice.Theseissuesmaybethussummarized,withspecialreferencetotheirhuman135 This content downloaded from 130.184.237.6 on Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:34:16 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
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