Article ID: CBB558913053

Seneca on Human Rights in De Beneficiis 3 (2021)


The paper discusses Seneca’s phrase ‘human rights’ (ius humanum) in On Benefits 3 and relates the passage to recent debates about human rights in Stoicism and ancient philosophy. I argue that the Latin phrase refers either to rights or to a law conferring rights. The difference between the passage and a common expectation for human rights lies in the kind of relation between right and duty. In Seneca’s passage the right does not in itself have a correlative duty on the part of other people, and yet it does, if exercised through benefactions, create a duty in others. By contrast, the relation between right and duty is usually expected to be unconditional.

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Authors & Contributors
Strange, Steven K.
Zupko, Jack
Gourinat, Jean-Baptiste
Sedley, David N.
Brunschwig, Jacques
Papaziana, Michael
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
History and Philosophy of Logic
American Journal of Philology
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Technai, An International Journal for Ancient Science and Technology
Cambridge University Press
University of California Press
Indiana University
Presses Universitaires de Liège
Seneca, Lucius Annaeus
Chrysippos of Cnidos
Cicero, Marcus Tullius
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae
Time Periods
Roman Empire
Roman Republic

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