Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf on Last Wills and Testaments

In: Grotiana

Hugo Grotius believed that last wills belonged to the Law of Nature, whereas Samuel Pufendorf argued that testamentary succession was a mere creation of human laws. I argue that Pufendorf’s rejection of the Natural Law origins for wills lacks internal consistency in both his Natural Law system and his proprietary rights theory. Pufendorf even contradicts his own previous claim stating wills are recognised by the Law of Nature as useful to the promotion of social peace. Grotius’s analysis of testaments, on the other hand, brief though it may be, is entirely consistent with his previous arguments: that the Law of Nature can attach itself to human creation; and that a human creation such as testamentary succession belongs to Natural Law when derived from, or when it agrees with, human reason and sociability.