A Note on the Origins of Human Rights: Bartolomé de las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria

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In the wake of the Spanish arrival in America, a controversy arose with respect to the legitimacy of the conquest and the colonial rule. This debate was started by the Dominicans in the New World, who denounced the oppression of the native population. The most renowned participants in these discussions were Bartolomé de las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria. The former received the title of “Defender of the Indians”, while the latter is remembered as a central figure in the foundation of international law. Through the debates concerning the conquest of America, one precondition – noted by Habermas – for the emergence of human rights is explored, that of resistance against state power on the basis of the egalitarian tradition belonging to Judeo-Christian thinking.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordicum-Mediterraneum. Icelandic E-Journal of Nordic and Mediterranean Studies
Issue number2
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2018

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Human Rights, Bartolomé de las Casas, Francisco de Vitoria, Habermas, Jürgen

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