Legal philosophy of Modern Scholasticism: rights of nations as a means of intercultural dialogue

AuthorVytis Valatka
PositionFaculty of Creative Industries, Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania
Legal philosophy of Modern Scholasticism: rights of nations
as a means of intercultural dialogue
Professor Vytis VALATKA1
This article investigates legal philosophy of the Second, or Modern Scholasticism.
Doxographical, analytical as well as hermeneutical methods are applied. The author of the
article concentrates on the list of fundamental rights of nations presented by Francisco de
Vitoria including rights to existence, mutual equality and political independence; rights of
international migration and trade; as well as the right and even duty of humanitarian or
even military help. The article comes to conclusion that the above-mentioned list does not
lose its relevance in contemporary world and society, as the rights from this list are
regularly infringed. It is also asserted that, having been transferred into cultural -
civilizational field, the elements of Vitoria’s list would become universal rights of every
culture and civilization. As those rights share respectful, protective and fostering
orientation towards various cultures and civilizations, they could be applied as measures
of starting, fostering, maintaining and safeguarding intercultural/intercivilizational
communication and dialogue.
Keywords: legal philosophy, modern scholasticism, rights of nations, intercultural
and intercivilizational dialogue, Francisco de Vitoria.
JEL Classification: K33, K37, K38
1. Introduction
Successful intercultural and intercivilizational communication and
dialogue are one of the most important tasks and challenges for
contemporary global society. While searching forms, measures and strategies of
this dialogue, it is important not to leave a historical perspective out of
consideration - as the well-known Roman proverb maintains, Historia est
magistra vitae. One of the most distinct historical examples of above-mentioned
search is found in legal philosophy of Second, or Modern, Scholasticism. The most
prominent representatives of this philosophy (Dominican thomist Francisco de
Vitoria, Jesuit Thomist Francisco Suarez etc.) proclaimed the list of universal
rights of nations as well as conditions of defending those rights in the just war. The
above-mentioned list is also interpretable as a measure of fostering and
safeguarding international and intercultural/intercivilizational dialogue, for life of
nations is inseparable from a certain cultural/civilizational environment. This
measure was intended to mitigate international, intercultural and intercivilizational
conflicts of that time (for example, Christian European civilization vs. pagan
1 Vytis Valatka - Faculty of Creative Industries, Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania,

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