Adam Smith’s Unfinished Grotius Business, Grotius’s Novel Turn to Ancient Law, and the Genealogical Fallacy

in Grotiana
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In this Reply, I argue that pace Knud Haakonssen it is dubious that Adam Smith managed to ‘blow up’ Hugo Grotius’s universalist system of natural jurisprudence. Rather, Smith emerges as a closet rationalist who put forward crypto-normative universalist claims himself and found that he could not in the end improve upon Grotius’s system. Grotius was not seen by Smith as a ‘casuist’ tout court. I try to give an explanation for the tensions introduced into Smith’s work by his incorporation of key aspects of Grotius’s theory of justice. Furthermore, I try to clarify in what regard Grotius should be seen as a novel and original thinker. Lastly, I argue in favor of according ideas and arguments their own weight, against a facile contextualism that is always in danger of falling prey to the genealogical fallacy.

Adam Smith’s Unfinished Grotius Business, Grotius’s Novel Turn to Ancient Law, and the Genealogical Fallacy

in Grotiana

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