Conrad Summenhart's Theory of Individual Rights


In recent decades scholars have shown considerable and steadily increasing interest in medieval discussions of rights. This book aims to make a significant contribution to scholarship by providing a detailed and systematic account of Conrad Summenhart’s (c.1458-1502) language of individual rights. Starting from the view that Summenhart’s Opus septipartitum contains a carefully constructed and comprehensive theory of individual rights, this study analyses Summenhart’s theory in its historical context, treating it as a culmination of late medieval discourse on individual rights. This study is particularly useful to scholars interested in the origin of human rights language and modern political individualism, as well as to all those who work in the field of late medieval and early modern political and moral philosophy.
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Biographical Note

Jussi Varkemaa, Th.D. (2009) in Philosophy of Religion, University of Helsinki, is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. He has published several articles on late medieval discourse of individual rights.

Review Quote

‘’A solid contribution to one of the most important debates in the history of political thought’’ Noahi Dauber, Colgate University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Fall 2012), p. 927.

Table of contents

Introduction PART I: The background 1. Medieval discussions on rights 1.1. Bonaventure 1.2. Godfrey of Fontaines 1.3. Peter John Olivi 1.4. Hervaeus Natalis 1.5. William Ockham 1.6. Richard Fitzralph 1.7. Jean Gerson 1.8. Antoninus of Florence PART II: Conrad Summenhart’s theory 2. The right of the individual 2.1. Right as power 2.2. Right as dominion 2.3. Right as a relation 3. The species of dominion 3.1. The six-fold dominion 3.2. Natural dominion 4. Property rights 4.1. Justification of private property 4.2. The rights of use (usus) and usufruct (usufructus) 4.3. Ownership (proprietas) and possession (possessio) Summary Bibliography Index of names


All those interested in the origin of human rights language, modern political individualism, and late medieval and early modern political and moral philosophy.