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Johannes von Felden on Usucaption, Justice, and the Society of States

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 74, Number 3, July 2013
pp. 403-423 | 10.1353/jhi.2013.0020



In his response to Grotius, the seventeenth-century German jurist and philosopher Johannes von Felden rejects Grotius’s view that usucaption—the acquisition of ownership through long-standing possession—could be a suitable means for settling territorial conflicts. At the same time, he defends a conception of a society of states. For him, the human need for security from the risks of war and the human need for justice demand from rulers that they establish international courts that have jurisdiction over territorial matters. In his view, the juridical relations connected with such international courts are constitutive of a society of states.

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