Natural law, natural rights and property
This chapter presents a set of contestations and debates over the nature of social and property relations that lie at the heart of a Mediterranean, Anglo-European and now globalised tradition of political and juridical thought. It traces a tension that runs through the natural law and natural rights traditions between an ethic of human sociability and fellowship, and, a theory of utility of unsocial and self-interested private property and commercial relations. One influential set of ideas within the tradition of natural law in Western political and juridical thought were developed by the tradition of Stoic philosophy which emerged in the ancient Greek world in the early 3rd century BCE. Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Stoic-infused natural law account of international law did not denounce the history of violent harm, dispossession and acquisition. The medieval recovery and reconceptualization of Roman law and Roman ideas of private property played an important role in the development of capitalist economic and social relations in Western Europe.