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67 the LAW of NATIONS u p r e l i m i n a r i e s u Idea and general Principles of the Law of Nations. Nations or states are bodies politic, societies of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantageby thejoint efforts of their combined strength. Such a society has her affairs and her interests; she deliberates and takes resolutions in common; thus becoming a moral person, who possesses an understanding and a will peculiar to herself, and is susceptible of obligations and rights. To establish on a solid foundation the obligations and rights of nations , is the design of this work. The law of nations is the science which teaches the rights subsisting between nations or states, and the obligations correspondent to those rights. In this treatise it will appear, in what manner states, as such, ought to regulate all their actions. We shall examine the obligations of a people, as well towards themselves as towards other nations; and by that means we shall discover the rights which result from those obligations. For, the§1. What is meant by a nation or state.§2. It is a moral person.§3. Definition of the law of nations. 68 preliminaries right being nothing more than the power of doing what is morally possible , that is to say, what is proper and consistentwithduty,—itisevident that right is derived from duty, or passive obligation,—the obligation we lie under to act in such or such manner. It is thereforenecessary that a nation should acquire a knowledge of the obligations incumbent on her, in order that she may not only avoid all violation of her duty, butalsobeable distinctly toascertainherrights,orwhatshemaylawfully require from other nations. Nations being composed of men naturally free and independent,and who, before the establishment of civil societies,livedtogetherinthestate of nature,—nations or sovereign states are to be considered as so many free persons living together in the state of nature. It is a settled point with writers on the natural law, that all meninherit from nature a perfect liberty and independence, of which they cannot be deprived without their own consent. In a state, the individualcitizens do not enjoy them fully and absolutely, because they have made a partial surrender of them to the sovereign. But the body of the nation,thestate, remains absolutely free and independent with respect to all other men, all other nations, as long as it has not voluntarily submitted to them. As men are subject to the laws of nature,—and as their union in civil society cannot have exempted them from the obligation toobservethose laws,sincebythatuniontheydonotceasetobemen,—theentirenation, whose common will is but the result of the united wills of the citizens, remains subject to the laws of nature, and is bound to respect them in all her proceedings. And since right arises from obligation, as we have just observed (§3), the nation possesses also the same rights which nature has conferred upon men in order to enable them to perform theirduties. We must therefore apply to nations the rules of the law of nature, in order to discover what their obligations are, and what their rights: consequently the law of nations is originally no other than the law of nature applied to nations. But as the application of a rule cannot be just and reasonable unless it be made in a manner suitable to the subject, we are not to imagine that the law of nations is precisely and in every case the same as the law of nature, with the difference only of the subjects to which it is applied, so as to allow of our substituting nations for indi-§4. In what light nations or states are to be considered.§5. To what laws nations are subject.§6. In what the law of nations originally consists. preliminaries 69 viduals. A state or civil society is a subject very different from an individual of the human race: from which circumstance, pursuanttothelaw of nature itself, there result, in many cases, very differentobligationsand rights; since the same general rule, applied to twosubjects,cannot produce exactly the same decisions, when the subjects are different; and a particular rule which is perfectly just with respect to one subject, is not applicable to another subject of a quite different nature. There aremany cases, therefore, in which the law of nature does notdecidebetweenstate and state in the same manner as it would between man and man. We must therefore...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878728
Print ISBN
9780865974517
MARC Record
OCLC
466082934
Pages
896
Launched on MUSE
2013-06-27
Language
English
Open Access
N
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