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Oliver Bach, Norbert Brieskorn, and Gideon Stiening, eds. Auctoritas

 De legibus zwischen Theologie,
omnium legume: Francisco Suarez
Philosophie und Jurisprudenz.
Politische Philosophie und Rechtstheorie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit; Reihe II:
Untersuchungen 5. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2013. xxvii + 414 pp.
188. ISBN: 978-3-7728-2620-7.
The stated aim of this volume, as well as of the Munich School of Philosophy
conference where it had its genesis, is to reconstruct the systematic Rechtsphilosophie
presented in Francisco Suarezs influential Tractatus de legibus ac Deo legislatore
(henceforth DL), and to examine the relationship between the theological,

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philosophical or metaphysical, and jurisprudential grounds of that philosophy.

Papers in collections tend to stray from whatever focus editors wish to impose, but
this volume certainly does a splendid job of reconstructing Suarezs positions and
arguments in DL.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part consists of six chapters, each
of which examines a particular issue systematically. For example, Klaus-Gert
Lutterbeck addresses the role of jurisprudence in Suarezs philosophy of law as well
as the question of how secular or theological it is, Martin Schmeisser contributes to
the long-standing controversy about Suarezs account of eternal and natural law and
how far it diverges from Aquinass account, and Gideon Stiening examines the role
of theology and argues that Suarezs legal philosophy contains an undesired
secularizing tendency. The second part consists of ten chapters that are intended
to investigate all the key points of all ten books of DL, one chapter for each book.
That second part is this books most valuable contribution. Most scholarship
focuses on the first three books, which cover law in general, eternal and natural law,
ius gentium, and positive human law. In this volume, however, the usually neglected
books also get their due. Covering the remaining seven books introduces the
following topics for discussion: positive canon law, penal law, the interpretation of
law, custom or unwritten law, privilege, and the divine positive law of the Old and
New Testaments. The careful treatment of the latter two-thirds of DL alone
recommends a place for this book on any Suarez scholars shelf.
Not all promises are as successfully met in this book. The introduction
promises two chapters that will bring other works by Suarez to bear on DL. This
would be most welcome, since most scholarship attends only to a narrow slice of
Suarezs work (which is hardly surprising, given the sheer volume of his corpus and
the paucity of scholarly giants shoulders on which to stand). But when one looks for
this intertextual work one finds a curious mismatch between the editors introduction
and the actual chapters. Ludger Honnefelder, it is promised, examines Suarezs other
famous work, Disputationes metaphysicae (henceforth, DM ). The editors note that
DM addresses foundational questions that are of crucial relevance for Suarezs legal
philosophy, before mentioning the contested matter of a distinction between
theoretical and practical reason (xx). Honnefelders chapter, however, is a rarefied
discussion of the object of metaphysics and the concept of being from DM 1. Without
calling into question the intrinsic merits of Honnefelders discussion, it is not obvious
how this discussion clarifies anything in DL; Honnefelder himself does not elaborate
on how his discussion is supposed to relate to DL. This represents a missed
opportunity since there is material in DM that obviously is relevant, such as the
account of free will in DM 19 and the account of final causation in DM 23 and 24.
Thomas Marschlers chapter is much more successful, with an illuminating
examination of the relationship between eternal law and Providence and between
eternal law and the ideas in the mind of God, drawing on both De deo uno et trino and
DM. As is all too common, other less famous but clearly relevant works by Suarez,
such as De fine hominis and De bonitate et malitia humanorum actuum, fail to receive
significant discussion anywhere in the book.

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Perhaps complaints about omissions are churlish. The scholarly literature on

Suarezs DL is lamentably limited, and this fine book deserves to be commended for
the headway it makes in rectifying that dearth. It will be of interest to any scholar
who works on Suarez, as well as to scholars who work on late Scholastic philosophy
more generally, especially to those with an interest in jurisprudence, ethics, or
political philosophy.
Asbury University

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