The state of nature: the meanings and promise of a legal fiction
Mark Somos

July 26, 2022, 8:00pm - 9:00pm
Faculty of Arts, Monash University



Monash University

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As a concept and term, the ‘state of nature’ has been around for a millennium. It refers to savagery, innocence, heaven and hell, lack of cultivation and nudity. Even more exciting than the last is the state of nature as humanity’s pre-political condition, the locus of rights and obligations, individualism and sociability – a scientifically and historically informed but speculative glimpse at the real nature of our species, and a detailed bet on the best international and domestic legal arrangements this species is capable of. Analyses and recommendations based on the state of nature by Thomas Aquinas, William of Ockham, the School of Salamanca, Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Samuel Pufendorf,  Emer de Vattel, Immanuel Kant, Carl Schmitt or John Rawls continue to influence our legal systems in underappreciated ways. This talk will survey past, current and potential future uses of the state of nature as a powerful legal fiction, and the ways in which it has shaped and can shape our reality.

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July 26, 2022, 8:00pm +10:00

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