The Pursuit of Happiness in the Democratic Creed: An Analysis of Political Ethics

By Ursula M. von Eckardt | Go to book overview
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7
THE LAWS OF NATURE AND OF NATURE'S GOD

Since the pursuit of happiness is referred to as a right in The Declaration of Independence, that is, a property or privilege to be guaranteed by law, the writers who created the climate of legal opinion in which Jefferson thought and wrote provided its frame of reference to nations and peoples. As his Common-Place Book and his legal training indicate, Jefferson had studied the works of Grotius, Pufendorf, Wolff, and Vattel, as well as those of Burlamaqui and Blackstone.1

Grotius and Pufendorf described the structure of international politics implied by a formal declaration of independence, and left the way open for Burlamaqui and Blackstone to develop -- by Bacon's empirical method and on the basis of Locke's conception of the mind -- the concept of human nature which leads to inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, and which fits into their formal structure of the law of nature and nations.

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