by Immanual Kant
translated by W. Hastie

A. What the Science of Right is.

The Science of Right has for its object the principles of all the
laws which it is possible to promulgate by external legislation. Where
there is such a legislation, it becomes, in actual application to
it, a system of positive right and law; and he who is versed in the
knowledge of this system is called a jurist or jurisconsult
(jurisconsultus). A practical jurisconsult (jurisperitus), or a
professional lawyer, is one who is skilled in the knowledge of
positive external laws, and who can apply them to cases that may occur
in experience. Such practical knowledge of positive right, and law,
may be regarded as belonging to jurisprudence (jurisprudentia) in
the original sense of the term. But the theoretical knowledge of right
and law in principle, as distinguished from positive laws and
empirical cases, belongs to the pure science of right (jurisscientia).
The science of right thus designates the philosophical and
systematic knowledge of the principles of natural right. And it is
from this science that the immutable principles of all positive
legislation must be derived by practical jurists and lawgivers.

B. What is Right?

This question may be said to be about as embarrassing to the
jurist as the well-known question, "What is truth?" is to the
logician. It is all the more so, if, on reflection, he strives to
avoid tautology in his reply and recognise the fact that a reference
to what holds true merely of the laws of some one country at a
particular time is not a solution of the general problem thus
proposed. It is quite easy to state what may be right in particular
cases (quid sit juris), as being what the laws of a certain place
and of a certain time say or may have said; but it is much more
difficult to determine whether what they have enacted is right in
itself, and to lay down a universal criterion by which right and wrong
in general, and what is just and unjust, may be recognised. All this
may remain entirely hidden even from the practical jurist until he
abandon his empirical principles for a time and search in the pure
reason for the sources of such judgements, in order to lay a real
foundation for actual positive legislation. In this search, his
empirical laws may, indeed, furnish him with excellent guidance; but a
merely empirical system that is void of rational principles is, like
the wooden head in the fable of Phaedrus, fine enough in appearance,
but unfortunately it wants brain.
1. The conception of right- as referring to a corresponding
obligation which is the moral aspect of it- in the first place, has
regard only to the external and practical relation of one person to
another, in so far as they can have influence upon each other,
immediately or mediately, by their actions as facts. 2. In the
second place, the conception of right does not indicate the relation
of the action of an individual to the wish or the mere desire of
another, as in acts of benevolence or of unkindness, but only the
relation of his free action to the freedom of action of the other.
3. And, in the third place, in this reciprocal relation of voluntary
actions, the conception of right does not take into consideration
the matter of the matter of the act of will in so far as the end which
any one may have in view in willing it is concerned. In other words,
it is not asked in a question of right whether any one on buying goods
for his own business realizes a profit by the transaction or not;
but only the form of the transaction is taken into account, in
considering the relation of the mutual acts of will. Acts of will or
voluntary choice are thus regarded only in so far as they are free,
and as to whether the action of one can harmonize with the freedom
of another, according to a universal law.
Right, therefore, comprehends the whole of the conditions under
which the voluntary actions of any one person can be harmonized in
reality with the voluntary actions of every other person, according to
a universal law of freedom.

C. Universal Principle of Right.

"Every action is right which in itself, or in the maxim on which
it proceeds, is such that it can coexist along with the freedom of the
will of each and all in action, according to a universal law."
If, then, my action or my condition generally can coexist with the
freedom of every other, according to a universal law, any one does
me a wrong who hinders me in the performance of this action, or in the
maintenance of this condition. For such a hindrance or obstruction
cannot coexist with freedom according to universal laws.
It follows also that it cannot be demanded as a matter of right,
that this universal principle of all maxims shall itself be adopted as
my maxim, that is, that I shall make it the maxim of my actions. For
any one may be free, although his freedom is entirely indifferent to
me, or even if I wished in my heart to infringe it, so long as I do
not actually violate that freedom by my external action. Ethics,
however, as distinguished from jurisprudence, imposes upon me the
obligation to make the fulfillment of right a maxim of my conduct.
The universal law of right may then be expressed thus: "Act
externally in such a manner that the free exercise of thy will may
be able to coexist with the freedom of all others, according to a
universal law." This is undoubtedly a law which imposes obligation
upon me; but it does not at all imply and still less command that I
ought, merely on account of this obligation, to limit my freedom to
these very conditions. Reason in this connection says only that it
is restricted thus far by its idea, and may be likewise thus limited
in fact by others; and it lays this down as a postulate which is not
capable of further proof. As the object in view is not to teach
virtue, but to explain what right is, thus far the law of right, as
thus laid down, may not and should not be represented as a
motive-principle of action.

D. Right is Conjoined with the Title or Authority to Compel.

The resistance which is opposed to any hindrance of an effect is
in reality a furtherance of this effect and is in accordance with
its accomplishment. Now, everything that is wrong is a hindrance of
freedom, according to universal laws; and compulsion or constraint
of any kind is a hindrance or resistance made to freedom.
Consequently, if a certain exercise of freedom is itself a hindrance
of the freedom that is according to universal laws, it is wrong; and
the compulsion of constraint which is opposed to it is right, as being
a hindering of a hindrance of freedom, and as being in accord with the
freedom which exists in accordance with universal laws. Hence,
according to the logical principle of contradiction, all right is
accompanied with an implied title or warrant to bring compulsion to
bear on any one who may violate it in fact.

E. Strict Right may be also Represented as the Possibility
of a Universal Reciprocal Compulsion in harmony with
the Freedom of All according to Universal Laws.

This proposition means the right is not to be regarded as composed
of two different elements- obligation according to a law, and a
title on the part of one who has bound another by his own free
choice to compel him to perform. But it imports that the conception of
right may be viewed as consisting immediately in the possibility of
a universal reciprocal compulsion, in harmony with the freedom of all.
As right in general has for its object only what is external in
actions, strict right, as that with which nothing ethical is
intermingled, requires no other motives of action than those that
are merely external; for it is then pure right and is unmixed with any
prescriptions of virtue. A strict right, then, in the exact sense of
the term, is that which alone can be called wholly external. Now
such right is founded, no doubt, upon the consciousness of the
obligation of every individual according to the law; but if it is to
be pure as such, it neither may nor should refer to this consciousness
as a motive by which to determine the free act of the will. For this
purpose, however, it founds upon the principle of the possibility of
an external compulsion, such as may coexist with the freedom of
every one according to universal laws. Accordingly, then, where it
is said that a creditor has a right to demand from a debtor the
payment of his debt, this does not mean merely that he can bring him
to feel in his mind that reason obliges him to do this; but it means
that he can apply an external compulsion to force any such one so to
pay, and that this compulsion is quite consistent with the freedom
of all, including the parties in question, according to a universal
law. Right and the title to compel, thus indicate the same thing.

The law of right, as thus enunciated, is represented as a reciprocal
compulsion necessarily in accordance with the freedom of every one,
under the principle of a universal freedom. It is thus, as it were,
a representative construction of the conception of right, by
exhibiting it in a pure intuitive perception a priori, after the
analogy of the possibility of the free motions of bodies under the
physical law of the equality of action and reaction. Now, as in pure
mathematics, we cannot deduce the properties of its objects
immediately from a mere abstract conception, but can only discover
them by figurative construction or representation of its
conceptions; so it is in like manner with the principle of right. It
is not so much the mere formal conception of right, but rather that of
a universal and equal reciprocal compulsion as harmonizing with it,
and reduced under general laws, that makes representation of that
conception possible. But just as those conceptions presented in
dynamics are founded upon a merely formal representation of pure
mathematics as presented in geometry, reason has taken care also to
provide the understanding as far as possible with intuitive
presentations a priori in behoof of a construction of the conception
of right. The right in geometrical lines (rectum) is opposed, as the
straight, to that which is curved and to that which is oblique. In the
first opposition, there is involved an inner quality of the lines of
such a nature that there is only one straight or right line possible
between two given points. In the second case, again, the positions
of two intersecting or meeting lines are of such a nature that there
can likewise be only one line called the perpendicular, which is not
more inclined to the one side than the other, and it divides space
on either side into two equal parts. After the manner of this analogy,
the science of right aims at determining what every one shall have
as his own with mathematical exactness; but this is not to be expected
in the ethical science of virtue, as it cannot but allow a certain
latitude for exceptions. But, without passing into the sphere of
ethics, there are two cases- known as the equivocal right of equity
and necessity- which claim a juridical decision, yet for which no
one can be found to give such a decision, and which, as regards
their relation to rights, belong, as it were, to the "Intermundia"
of Epicurus. These we must at the outset take apart from the special
exposition of the science of right, to which we are now about to
advance; and we may consider them now by way of supplement to these
introductory explanations, in order that their uncertain conditions
may not exert a disturbing influence on the fixed principles of the
proper doctrine of right.

F. Supplementary Remarks on Equivocal Right.
(Jus Aequivocum).

With every right, in the strict acceptation (jus strictum), there is
conjoined a right to compel. But it is possible to think of other
rights of a wider kind (jus latum) in which the title to compel cannot
be determined by any law. Now there are two real or supposed rights of
this kind- equity and the right of necessity. The first alleges a
right that is without compulsion; the second adopts a compulsion
that is without right. This equivocalness, however, can be easily
shown to rest on the peculiar fact that there are cases of doubtful
right, for the decision of which no judge can be appointed.

I. Equity.

Equity (aequitas), regarded objectively, does not properly
constitute a claim upon the moral duty of benevolence or beneficence
on the part of others; but whoever insists upon anything on the ground
of equity, founds upon his right to the same. In this case, however,
the conditions are awanting that are requisite for the function of a
judge in order that be might determine what or what kind of
satisfaction can be done to this claim. When one of the partners of
a mercantile company, formed under the condition of equal profits,
has, however, done more than the other members, and in consequence has
also lost more, it is in accordance with equity that he should
demand from the company more than merely an equal share of advantage
with the rest. But, in relation to strict right- if we think of a
judge considering his case- he can furnish no definite data to
establish how much more belongs to him by the contract; and in case of
an action at law, such a demand would be rejected. A domestic servant,
again, who might be paid his wages due to the end of his year of
service in a coinage that became depreciated within that period, so
that it would not be of the same value to him as it was when he
entered on his engagement, cannot claim by right to be kept from
loss on account of the unequal value of the money if he receives the
due amount of it. He can only make an appeal on the ground of equity,-
a dumb goddess who cannot claim a bearing of right,- because there was
nothing bearing on this point in the contract of service, and a
judge cannot give a decree on the basis of vague or indefinite
Hence it follows, that a court of equity, for the decision of
disputed questions of right, would involve a contradiction. It is only
where his own proper rights are concerned, and in matters in which
he can decide, that a judge may or ought to give a hearing to
equity. Thus, if the Crown is supplicated to give an indemnity to
certain persons for loss or injury sustained in its service, it may
undertake the burden of doing so, although, according to strict right,
the claim might be rejected on the ground of the pretext that the
parties in question undertook the performance of the service
occasioning the loss, at their own risk.
The dictum of equity may be put thus: "The strictest right is the
greatest wrong" (summum jus summa injuria). But this evil cannot be
obviated by the forms of right, although it relates to a matter of
right; for the grievance that it gives rise to can only be put
before a "court of conscience" (forum poli), whereas every question of
right must be taken before a civil court (forum soli).

II. The Right of Necessity.

The so-called right of necessity (jus necessitatis) is the
supposed right or title, in case of the danger of losing my own
life, to take away the life of another who has, in fact, done me no
harm. It is evident that, viewed as a doctrine of right, this must
involve a contradiction, For this is not the case of a wrongful
aggressor making an unjust assault upon my life, and whom I anticipate
by depriving him of his own (jus inculpatae tutelae); nor consequently
is it a question merely of the recommendation of moderation which
belongs to ethics as the doctrine of virtue, and not to
jurisprudence as the doctrine of right. It is a question of the
allowableness of using violence against one who has used none
against me.
It is clear that the assertion of such a right is not to be
understood objectively as being in accordance with what a law would
prescribe, but merely subjectively, as proceeding on the assumption of
how a sentence would be pronounced by a court in the case. There
can, in fact, be no criminal law assigning the penalty of death to a
man who, when shipwrecked and struggling in extreme danger for his
life, and in order to save it, may thrust another from a plank on
which he had saved himself. For the punishment threatened by the law
could not possibly have greater power than the fear of the loss of
life in the case in question. Such a penal law would thus fail
altogether to exercise its intended effect; for the threat of an
evil which is still uncertain- such as death by a judicial sentence-
could not overcome the fear of an evil which is certain, as drowning
is in such circumstances. An act of violent self-preservation, then,
ought not to be considered as altogether beyond condemnation
(inculpabile); it is only to be adjudged as exempt from punishment
(impunibile). Yet this subjective condition of impunity, by a
strange confusion of ideas, has been regarded by jurists as equivalent
to objective lawfulness.
The dictum of the right of necessity is put in these terms:
"Necessity has no law" (Necessitas non habet legem). And yet there
cannot be a necessity that could make what is wrong lawful.
It is apparent, then, that in. judgements relating both to
"equity" and "the right of necessity," the equivocations involved
arise from an interchange of the objective and subjective grounds that
enter into the application of the principles of right, when viewed
respectively by reason or by a judicial tribunal. What one may have
good grounds for recognising as right, in itself, may not find
confirmation in a court of justice; and what he must consider to be
wrong, in itself, may obtain recognition in such a court. And the
reason of this is that the conception of right is not taken in the two
cases in one and the same sense.

A. General Division of the Duties of Right.
(Juridical Duties).

In this division we may very conveniently follow Ulpian, if his
three formulae are taken in a general sense, which may not have been
quite clearly in his mind, but which they are capable of being
developed into or of receiving. They are the following:
1. Honeste vive. "Live rightly." juridical rectitude, or honour
(honestas juridica), consists in maintaining one's own worth as a
man in relation to others. This duty may be rendered by the
proposition: "Do not make thyself a mere means for the use of
others, but be to them likewise an end." This duty will be explained
in the next formula as an obligation arising out of the right of
humanity in our own person (lex justi).
2. Neminem laede. "Do wrong to no one." This formula may be rendered
so as to mean: "Do no wrong to any one, even if thou shouldst be under
the necessity, in observing this duty, to cease from all connection
with others and to avoid all society" (lex juridica).
3. Suum cuique tribue. "Assign to every one what is his own." This
may be rendered, "Enter, if wrong cannot be avoided, into a society
with others in which every one may have secured to him what is his
own." If this formula were to be simply translated, "Give every one
his own," it would express an absurdity, for we cannot give any one
what he already has. If it is to have a definite meaning, it must
therefore run thus: "Enter into a state in which every one can have
what is his own secured against the action of every other" (lex

These three classical formulae, at the same time, represent
principles which suggest a division of the system of juridical
duties into internal duties, external duties, and those connecting
duties which contain the latter as deduced from the principle of the
former by subsumption.

B. Universal Division of Rights.

I. Natural Right and Positive Right. The system of rights, viewed as
a scientific system of doctrines, is divided into natural right and
positive right. Natural right rests upon pure rational principles a
priori; positive or statutory right is what proceeds from the will
of a legislator.
II. Innate Right and Acquired Right. The system of rights may
again be regarded in reference to the implied powers of dealing
morally with others as bound by obligations, that is, as furnishing
a legal title of action in relation to them. Thus viewed, the system
is divided into innate right and acquired right. Innate right is
that right which belongs to every one by nature, independent of all
juridical acts of experience. Acquired right is that right which is
founded upon such juridical acts.
Innate right may also be called the "internal mine and thine"
(meum vel tuum internum) for external right must always be acquired.

There is only one Innate Right, the Birthright of Freedom.

Freedom is independence of the compulsory will of another; and in so
far as it can coexist with the freedom of all according to a universal
law, it is the one sole original, inborn right belonging to every
man in virtue of his humanity. There is, indeed, an innate equality
belonging to every man which consists in his right to be independent
of being bound by others to anything more than that to which he may
also reciprocally bind them. It is, consequently, the inborn quality
of every man in virtue of which he ought to be his own master by right
(sui juris). There is, also, the natural quality of justness
attributable to a man as naturally of unimpeachable right (justi),
because be has done no wrong to any one prior to his own juridical
actions. And, further, there is also the innate right of common action
on the part of every man, so that he may do towards others what does
not infringe their rights or take away anything that is theirs
unless they are willing to appropriate it; such merely to
communicate thought, to narrate anything, or to promise something
whether truly and honestly, or untruly and dishonestly (veriloquim aut
falsiloquim), for it rests entirely upon these others whether they
will believe or trust in it or not.* But all these rights or titles
are already included in the principle of innate freedom, and are not
really distinguished from it, even as dividing members under a
higher species of right.

*It is customary to designate every untruth that is spoken
intentionally as such, although it may be in a frivolous manner a lie,
or falsehood (mendacium), because it may do harm, at least in so far
as any one who repeats it in good faith may be made a laughing-stock
of to others on account of his easy credulity. But in the juridical
sense, only that untruth is called a lie which immediately infringes
the right of another, such as a false allegation of a contract
having been concluded, when the allegation is put forward in order
to deprive some one of what is his (falsiloquim dolosum). This
distinction of conceptions so closely allied is not without
foundation; because on the occasion of a simple statement of one's
thoughts, it is always free for another to take them as he may; and
yet the resulting repute, that such a one is a man whose word cannot
be trusted, comes so close to the opprobrium of directly calling him a
liar, that the boundary-line separating what, in such a case,
belongs to jurisprudence, and what is special to ethics, can hardly be
otherwise drawn.

The reason why such a division into separate rights has been
introduced into the system of natural right, viewed as including all
that is innate, was not without a purpose. Its object was to enable
proof to be more readily put forward in case of any controversy
arising about an acquired right, and questions emerging either with
reference to a fact that might be in doubt, or, if that were
established, in reference to a right under dispute. For the party
repudiating an obligation, and on whom the burden of proof (onus
probandi) might be incumbent, could thus methodically refer to his
innate right of freedom as specified under various relations in
detail, and could therefore found upon them equally as different
titles of right.
In the relation of innate right, and consequently of the internal
mine and thine, there is therefore not rights, but only one right.
And, accordingly, this highest division of rights into innate and
acquired, which evidently consists of two members extremely unequal in
their contents is properly placed in the introduction; and the
subdivisions of the science of right may be referred in detail to
the external mine and thine.

C. Methodical Division of the Science of Right.

The highest division of the system of natural right should not be-
as it is frequently put- into "natural right" and "social right,"
but into natural right and civil right. The first constitutes
private right; the second, public right. For it is not the "social
state" but the "civil state" that is opposed to the "state of nature";
for in the "state of nature" there may well be society of some kind,
but there is no "civil" society, as an institution securing the mine
and thine by public laws. It is thus that right, viewed under
reference to the state of nature, is specially called private right.
The whole of the principles of right will therefore fall to be
expounded under the two subdivisions of private right and public
The System of those Laws Which Require No External Promulgation.
CHAPTER I. Of the Mode of Having Anything External as One's Own.

1. The Meaning of "Mine" in Right
(Meum Juris).

Anything is "Mine" by right, or is rightfully mine, when I am so
connected with it, that if any other person should make use of it
without my consent, he would do me a lesion or injury. The
subjective condition of the use of anything is possession of it.
An external thing, however as such could only be mine, if I may
assume it to be possible that I can be wronged by the use which
another might make of it when it is not actually in my possession.
Hence it would be a contradiction to have anything external as one's
own, were not the conception of possession capable of two different
meanings, as sensible possession that is perceivable by the senses,
and rational possession that is perceivable only by the intellect.
By the former is to be understood a physical possession, and by the
latter, a purely juridical possession of the same object.
The description of an object as "external to me" may signify
either that it is merely "different and distinct from me as a
subject," or that it is also "a thing placed outside of me, and to
be found elsewhere in space or time." Taken in the first sense, the
term possession signifies rational possession; and, in the second
sense, it must mean empirical possession. A rational or intelligible
possession, if such be possible, is possession viewed apart from
physical holding or detention (detentio).

2. Juridical Postulate of the Practical Reason.

It is possible to have any external object of my will as mine. In
other words, a maxim to this effect- were it to become law- that any
object on which the will can be exerted must remain objectively in
itself without an owner, as res nullius, is contrary to the
principle of right.
For an object of any act of my will, is something that it would be
physically within my power to use. Now, suppose there were things that
by right should absolutely not be in our power, or, in other words,
that it would be wrong or inconsistent with the freedom of all,
according to universal law, to make use of them. On this
supposition, freedom would so far be depriving itself of the use of
its voluntary activity, in thus putting useable objects out of all
possibility of use. In practical relations, this would be to
annihilate them, by making them res nullius, notwithstanding the
fact act acts of will in relation to such things would formally
harmonize, in the actual use of them, with the external freedom of all
according to universal laws. Now the pure practical reason lays down
only formal laws as principles to regulate the exercise of the will;
and therefore abstracts from the matter of the act of will, as regards
the other qualities of the object, which is considered only in so
far as it is an object of the activity of the will. Hence the
practical reason cannot contain, in reference to such an object, an
absolute prohibition of its use, because this would involve a
contradiction of external freedom with itself. An object of my free
will, however, is one which I have the physical capability of making
some use of at will, since its use stands in my power (in potentia).
This is to be distinguished from having the object brought under my
disposal (in postestatem meam reductum), which supposes not a
capability merely, but also a particular act of the free-will. But
in order to consider something merely as an object of my will as such,
it is sufficient to be conscious that I have it in my power. It is
therefore an assumption a priori of the practical reason to regard and
treat every object within the range of my free exercise of will as
objectively a possible mine or thine.
This postulate may be called "a permissive law" of the practical
reason, as giving us a special title which we could not evolve out
of the mere conceptions of right generally. And this title constitutes
the right to impose upon all others an obligation, not otherwise
laid upon them, to abstain from the use of certain objects of our free
choice, because we have already taken them into our possession. Reason
wills that this shall be recognised as a valid principle, and it
does so as practical reason; and it is enabled by means of this
postulate a priori to enlarge its range of activity in practice.

3. Possession and Ownership.

Any one who would assert the right to a thing as his must be in
possession of it as an object. Were he not its actual possessor or
owner, he could not be wronged or injured by the use which another
might make of it without his consent. For, should anything external to
him, and in no way connected with him by right, affect this object, it
could not affect himself as a subject, nor do him any wrong, unless he
stood in a relation of ownership to it.

4. Exposition of the Conception of the.
External Mine and Thine.

There can only be three external objects of my will in the
activity of choice:
(1) A corporeal thing external to me;
(2) The free-will of another in the performance of a particular
act (praestatio);
(3) The state of another in relation to myself.
These correspond to the categories of substance, causality, and
reciprocity; and they form the practical relations between me and
external objects, according to the laws of freedom.

A. I can only call a corporeal thing or an object in space "mine,"
when, even although not in physical possession of it, I am able to
assert that I am in possession of it in another real nonphysical
sense. Thus, I am not entitled to call an apple mine merely because
I hold it in my hand or possess it physically; but only when I am
entitled to say, "I possess it, although I have laid it out of my
hand, and wherever it may lie." In like manner, I am not entitled to
say of the ground, on which I may have laid myself down, that
therefore it is mine; but only when I can rightly assert that it still
remains in my possession, although I may have left the spot. For any
one who, in the former appearances of empirical possession, might
wrench the apple out of my hand, or drag me away from my
resting-place, would, indeed, injure me in respect of the inner "mine"
of freedom, but not in respect of the external "mine," unless I
could assert that I was in the possession of the object, even when not
actually holding it physically. And if I could not do this, neither
could I call the apple or the spot mine.
B. I cannot call the performance of something by the action of the
will of another "mine," if I can only say "it has come into my
possession at the same time with a promise" (pactum re initum); but
only if I am able to assert "I am in possession of the will of the
other, so as to determine him to the performance of a particular
act, although the time for the performance of it has not yet come." In
the latter case, the promise belongs to the nature of things
actually held as possessed, and as an active obligation I can reckon
it mine; and this holds good not only if I have the thing promised- as
in the first case- already in my possession, but even although I do
not yet possess it in fact. Hence, I must be able to regard myself
in thought as independent of that empirical form of possession that is
limited by the condition of time and as being, nevertheless, in
possession of the object.
C. I cannot call a wife, a child, a domestic, or, generally, any
other person "mine" merely because I command them at present as
belonging to my household, or because I have them under control, and
in my power and possession. But I can call them mine, if, although
they may have withdrawn themselves from my control and I do not
therefore possess them empirically, I can still say "I possess them by
my mere will, provided they exist anywhere in space or time; and,
consequently, my possession of them is purely juridical." They belong,
in fact, to my possessions, only when and so far as I can assert
this as a matter of right.

5. Definition of the Conception of the
External Mine and Thine.

Definitions are nominal or real. A nominal definition is
sufficient merely to distinguish the object defined from all other
objects, and it springs out of a complete and definite exposition of
its conception. A real definition further suffices for a deduction
of the conception defined, so as to furnish a knowledge of the reality
of the object. The nominal definition of the external "mine" would
thus be: "The external mine is anything outside of myself, such that
any hindrance of my use of it at will would be doing me an injury or
wrong as an infringement of that freedom of mine which may coexist
with the freedom of all others according to a universal law." The real
definition of this conception may be put thus: "The external mine is
anything outside of myself, such that any prevention of my use of it
would be a wrong, although I may not be in possession of it so as to
be actually holding it as an object." I must be in some kind of
possession of an external object, if the object is to be regarded as
mine; for, otherwise, anyone interfering with this object would not,
in doing so, affect me; nor, consequently, would he thereby do me
any wrong. Hence, according to SS 4, a rational possession
(possessio noumenon) must be assumed as possible, if there is to be
rightly an external mine and thine. Empirical possession is thus
only phenomenal possession or holding (detention) of the object in the
sphere of sensible appearance (possessio phenomenon), although the
object which I possess is not regarded in this practical relation as
itself a phenomenon- according to the exposition of the Transcendental
Analytic in the Critique of Pure Reason- but as a thing in itself. For
in the Critique of Pure Reason the interest of reason turns upon the
theoretical knowledge of the nature of things and how far reason can
go in such knowledge. But here reason has to deal with the practical
determination of the action of the will according to laws of
freedom, whether the object is perceivable through the senses or
merely thinkable by the pure understanding. And right, as under
consideration, is a pure practical conception of the reason in
relation to the exercise of the will under laws of freedom.
And, hence, it is not quite correct to speak of "possessing" a right
to this or that object, but it should rather be said that an object is
possessed in a purely juridical way; for a right is itself the
rational possession of an object, and to "possess a possession," would
be an expression without meaning.

6. Deduction of the Conception of a Purely Juridical
Possession of an External Object (Possessio Noumenon).

The question, "How is an external mine and thine possible?" resolves
itself into this other question: "How is a merely juridical or
rational possession possible?" And this second question resolves
itself again into a third: "How is a synthetic proposition in right
possible a priori?"
All propositions of right- as juridical propositions- are
propositions a priori, for they are practical laws of reason
(dictamina rationis). But the juridical proposition a priori
respecting empirical possession is analytical; for it says nothing
more than what follows by the principle of contradiction, from the
conception of such possession; namely, that if I am the holder of a
thing in the way of being physically connected with it, any one
interfering with it without my consent- as, for instance, in wrenching
an apple out of my hand- affects and detracts from my freedom as
that which is internally mine; and consequently the maxim of his
action is in direct contradiction to the axiom of right. The
proposition expressing the principle of an empirical rightful
possession does not therefore go beyond the right of a person in
reference to himself.
On the other hand, the proposition expressing the possibility of the
possession of a thing external to me, after abstraction of all the
conditions of empirical possession in space and time- consequently
presenting the assumption of the possibility of a possessio
noumenon- goes beyond these limiting conditions; and because this
proposition asserts a possession even without physical holding, as
necessary to the conception of the external mine and thine, it is
synthetical. And thus it becomes a problem for reason to show how such
a proposition, extending its range beyond the conception of
empirical possession, is possible a priori.
In this manner, for instance, the act of taking possession of a
particular portion of the soil is a mode exercising the private
free-will without being an act of usurpation. The possessor founds
upon the innate right of common possession of the surface of the
earth, and upon the universal will corresponding a priori to it, which
allows a private possession of the soil; because what are mere
things would be otherwise made in themselves and by a law into
unappropriable objects. Thus a first appropriator acquires
originally by primary possession a particular portion of the ground;
and by right (jure) he resists every other person who would hinder him
in the private use of it, although, while the "state of nature"
continues, this cannot be done by juridical means (de jure), because a
public law does not yet exist.
And although a piece of ground should be regarded as free, or
declared to be such, so as to be for the public use of all without
distinction, yet it cannot be said that it is thus free by nature
and originally so, prior to any juridical act. For there would be a
real relation already incorporated in such a piece of ground by the
very fact that the possession of it was denied to any particular
individual; and as this public freedom of the ground would be a
prohibition of it to every particular individual, this presupposes a
common possession of it which cannot take effect without a contract. A
piece of ground, however, which can only become publicly free by
contract, must actually be in the possession of all those associated
together, who mutually interdict or suspend each other, from any
particular or private use of it.

This original community of the soil and of the things upon it
(communio fundi originaria), is an idea which has objective and
practical juridical reality and is entirely different from the idea of
a primitive community of things, which is a fiction. For the latter
would have had to be founded as a form of society, and must have taken
its rise from a contract by which all renounced the right of private
possession, so that by uniting the property owned by each into a
whole, it was thus transformed into a common possession. But had
such an event taken place, history must have presented some evidence
of it. To regard such a procedure as the original mode of taking
possession, and to hold that the particular possessions of every
individual may and ought to be grounded upon it, is evidently a
Possession (possessio) is to be distinguished from habitation as
mere residence (sedes); and the act of taking possession of the soil
in the intention of acquiring it once for all, is also to be
distinguished from settlement or domicile (incolatus), which is a
continuous private possession of a place that is dependent on the
presence of the individual upon it. We have not here to deal with
the question of domiciliary settlement, as that is a secondary
juridical act which may follow upon possession, or may not occur at
all; for as such it could not involve an original possession, but only
a secondary possession derived from the consent of others.
Simple physical possession, or holding of the soil, involves already
certain relations of right to the thing, although it is certainly
not sufficient to enable me to regard it as mine. Relative to
others, so far as they know, it appears as a first possession in
harmony with the law of external freedom; and, at the same time, it is
embraced in the universal original possession which contains a
priori the fundamental principle of the possibility of a private
possession. Hence to disturb the first occupier or holder of a portion
of the soil in his use of it is a lesion or wrong done to him. The
first taking of possession has therefore a title of right (titulus
possessionis) in its favour, which is simply the principle of the
original common possession; and the saying that "It is well for
those who are in possession" (beati possidentes), when one is not
bound to authenticate his possession, is a principle of natural
right that establishes the juridical act of taking possession, as a
ground of acquisition upon which every first possessor may found.
It has been shown in the Critique of Pure Reason that in theoretical
principles a priori, an intuitional perception a priori must be
supplied in connection with any given conception; and, consequently,
were it a question of a purely theoretical principle, something
would have to be added to the conception of the possession of an
object to make it real. But in respect of the practical principle
under consideration, the procedure is just the converse of the
theoretical process; so that all the conditions of perception which
form the foundation of empirical possession must be abstracted or
taken away in order to extend the range of the juridical conception
beyond the empirical sphere, and in order to be able to apply the
postulate, that every external object of the free activity of my will,
so far as I have it in my power, although not in the possession of it,
may be reckoned as juridically mine.
The possibility of such a possession, with consequent deduction of
the conception of a nonempirical possession, is founded upon the
juridical postulate of the practical reason, that "It is a juridical
duty so to act towards others that what is external and useable may
come into the possession or become the property of some one." And this
postulate is conjoined with the exposition of the conception that what
is externally one's own is founded upon a possession, that is not
physical. The possibility of such a possession, thus conceived,
cannot, however, be proved or comprehended in itself, because it is
a rational conception for which no empirical perception can be
furnished; but it follows as an immediate consequence from the
postulate that has been enunciated. For, if it is necessary to act
according to that juridical principle, the rational or intelligible
condition of a purely juridical possession must also be possible. It
need astonish no one, then, that the theoretical aspect of the
principles of the external mine and thine is lost from view in the
rational sphere of pure intelligence and presents no extension of
knowledge; for the conception of freedom upon which they rest does not
admit of any theoretical deduction of its possibility, and it can only
be inferred from the practical law of reason, called the categorical
imperative, viewed as a fact.

7. Application of the Principle of the Possibility of
an External Mine and Thine to Objects of Experience.

The conception of a purely juridical possession is not an
empirical conception dependent on conditions of space and time, and
yet it has practical reality. As such it must be applicable to objects
of experience, the knowledge of which is independent of the conditions
of space and time. The rational process by which the conception of
right is brought into relation to such objects so as to constitute a
possible external mine and thine, is as follows. The conception of
right, being contained merely in reason, cannot be immediately applied
to objects of experience, so as to give the conception of an empirical
possession, but must be applied directly to the mediating
conception, in the understanding, of possession in general; so that,
instead of physical holding (detentio) as an empirical
representation of possession, the formal conception or thought of
having, abstracted from all conditions of space and time, is conceived
by the mind, and only as implying that an object is in my power and at
my disposal (in potestate mea positum esse). In this relation, the
term external does not signify existence in another place than where I
am, nor my resolution and acceptance at another time than the moment
in which I have the offer of a thing: it signifies only an object
different from or other than myself. Now the practical reason by its
law of right wills, that I shall think the mine and thine in
application to objects, not according to sensible conditions, but
apart from these and from the possession they indicate; because they
refer to determinations of the activity of the will that are in
accordance with the laws of freedom. For it is only a conception of
the understanding that can be brought under the rational conception of
right. I may therefore say that I possess a field, although it is in
quite a different place from that on which I actually find myself. For
the question here is not concerning an intellectual relation to the
object, but I have the thing practically in my power and at my
disposal, which is a conception of possession realized by the
understanding and independent of relations of space; and it is mine,
because my will, in determining itself to any particular use of it, is
not in conflict with the law of external freedom. Now it is just in
abstraction from physical possession of the object of my free-will
in the sphere of sense, that the practical reason wills that a
rational possession of it shall be thought, according to
intellectual conceptions which are not empirical, but contain a priori
the conditions of rational possession. Hence it is in this fact,
that we found the ground of the validity of such a rational conception
of possession possessio noumenon) as a principle of a universally
valid legislation. For such a legislation is implied and contained
in the expression, "This external object is mine," because an
obligation is thereby imposed upon all others in respect of it, who
would otherwise not have been obliged to abstain from the use of
this object.
The mode, then, of having something external to myself as mine,
consists in a specially juridical connection of the will of the
subject with that object, independently of the empirical relations
to it in space and in time, and in accordance with the conception of a
rational possession. A particular spot on the earth is not
externally mine because I occupy it with my body; for the question
here discussed refers only to my external freedom, and consequently it
affects only the possession of myself, which is not a thing external
to me, and therefore only involves an internal right. But if I
continue to be in possession of the spot, although I have taken myself
away from it and gone to another place, only under that condition is
my external right concerned in connection with it. And to make the
continuous possession of this spot by my person a condition of
having it as mine, must either be to assert that it is not possible at
all to have anything external as one's own, which is contrary to the
postulate in SS 2, or to require, in order that this external
possession may be possible, that I shall be in two places at the
same time. But this amounts to saying that I must be in a place and
also not in it, which is contradictory and absurd.
This position may be applied to the case in which I have accepted
a promise; for my having and possession in respect of what has been
promised become established on the ground of external right. This
right is not to be annulled by the fact that the promiser having
said at one time, "This thing shall be yours," again at a subsequent
time says, "My will now is that the thing shall not be yours." In such
relations of rational right, the conditions hold just the same as if
the promiser had, without any interval of time between them, made
the two declarations of his will, "This shall be yours," and also
"This shall not be yours"; which manifestly contradicts itself.
The same thing holds, in like manner, of the conception of the
juridical possession of a person as belonging to the Having of a
subject, whether it be a wife, a child, or a servant. The relations of
right involved in a household, and the reciprocal possession of all
its members, are not annulled by the capability of separating from
each other in space; because it is by juridical relations that they
are connected, and the external mine and thine, as in the former
cases, rests entirely upon the assumption of the possibility of a
purely rational possession, without the accompaniment of physical
detention or holding of the object.
Reason is forced to a critique of its juridically practical function
in special reference to the conception of the external mine and thine,
by the antinomy of the propositions enunciated regarding the
possibility of such a form of possession. For these give rise to an
inevitable dialectic, in which a thesis and an antithesis set up equal
claims to the validity of two conflicting conditions. Reason is thus
compelled, in its practical function in relation to right- as it was
in its theoretical function- to make a distinction between
possession as a phenomenal appearance presented to the senses, and
that possession which is rational and thinkable only by the
Thesis.- The thesis, in this case, is: "It is possible to have
something external as mine, although I am not in possession of it."
Antithesis.- The antithesis is: "It is not possible to have anything
external as mine, if I am not in possession of it."
Solution.- The solution is: "Both Propositions are true"; the former
when I mean empirical possession (possessio phaenomenon), the latter
when I understand by the same term, a purely rational possession
(possessio noumenon).
But the possibility of a rational possession, and consequently of an
external mine and thine, cannot be comprehended by direct insight, but
must be deduced from the practical reason. And in this relation it
is specially noteworthy that the practical reason without
intuitional perceptions, and even without requiring such an element
a priori, can extend its range by the mere elimination of empirical
conditions, as justified by the law of freedom, and can thus establish
synthetical propositions a priori. The proof of this in the
practical connection, as will be shown afterwards, can be adduced in
an analytical manner.

8. To Have Anything External as One's Own is only Possible
in a Juridical or Civil State of Society under the
Regulation of a Public Legislative Power.

If, by word or deed, I declare my will that some external thing
shall be mine, I make a declaration that every other person is obliged
to abstain from the use of this object of my exercise of will; and
this imposes an obligation which no one would be under, without such a
juridical act on my part. But the assumption of this act at the same
time involves the admission that I am obliged reciprocally to
observe a similar abstention towards every other in respect of what is
externally theirs; for the obligation in question arises from a
universal rule regulating the external juridical relations. Hence I am
not obliged to let alone what another person declares to be externally
his, unless every other person likewise secures me by a guarantee that
he will act in relation to what is mine, upon the same principle. This
guarantee of reciprocal and mutual abstention from what belongs to
others does not require a special juridical act for its establishment,
but is already involved in the conception of an external obligation of
right, on account of the universality and consequently the reciprocity
of the obligatoriness arising from a universal Rule. Now a single
will, in relation to an external and consequently contingent
possession, cannot serve as a compulsory law for all, because that
would be to do violence to the freedom which is in accordance with
universal laws. Therefore it is only a will that binds every one,
and as such a common, collective, and authoritative will, that can
furnish a guarantee of security to all. But the state of men under a
universal, external, and public legislation, conjoined with
authority and power, is called the civil state. There can therefore be
an external mine and thine only in the civil state of society.
Consequence.- It follows, as a corollary, that, if it is juridically
possible to have an external object as one's own, the individual
subject of possession must be allowed to compel or constrain every
person with whom a dispute as to the mine or thine of such a
possession may arise, to enter along with himself into the relations
of a civil constitution.

9. There May, However, Be an External Mine and Thine Found as
a Fact in the State of Nature, but it is only Provisory.

Natural right in the state of a civil constitution means the forms
of right which may be deduced from principles a priori as the
conditions of such a constitution. It is therefore not to be infringed
by the statutory laws of such a constitution; and accordingly the
juridical principle remains in force, that, "Whoever proceeds upon a
maxim by which it becomes impossible for me to have an object of the
exercise of my will as mine, does me a lesion or injury." For a
civil constitution is only the juridical condition under which every
one has what is his own merely secured to him, as distinguished from
its being specially assigned and determined to him. All guarantee,
therefore, assumes that everyone to whom a thing is secured is already
in possession of it as his own. Hence, prior to the civil
constitution- or apart from it- an external mine and thine must be
assumed as possible, and along with it a right to compel everyone with
whom we could come into any kind of intercourse to enter with us
into a constitution in which what is mine or thine can be secured.
There may thus be a possession in expectation or in preparation for
such a state of security, as can only be established on the law of the
common will; and as it is therefore in accordance with the possibility
of such a state, it constitutes a provisory or temporary juridical
possession; whereas that possession which is found in reality in the
civil state of society will be a peremptory or guaranteed
possession. Prior to entering into this state, for which he is
naturally prepared, the individual rightfully resists those who will
not adapt themselves to it, and who would disturb him in his provisory
possession; because, if the will of all except himself were imposing
upon him an obligation to withdraw from a certain possession, it would
still be only a one-sided or unilateral will, and consequently it
would have just as little legal title- which can be properly based
only on the universalized will- to contest a claim of right as he
would have to assert it. Yet be has the advantage on his side, of
being in accord with the conditions requisite to the introduction
and institution of a civil form of society. In a word, the mode in
which anything external may be held as one's own in the state of
nature, is just physical possession with a presumption of right thus
far in its favour, that by union of the wills of all in a public
legislation it will be made juridical; and in this expectation it
holds comparatively, as a kind of potential juridical possession.
This prerogative of right, as arising from the fact of empirical
possession, is in accordance with the formula: "It is well for those
who are in possession" (Beati possidentes). It does not consist in the
fact that, because the possessor has the presumption of being a
rightful man, it is unnecessary for him to bring forward proof that he
possesses a certain thing rightfully, for this position applies only
to a case of disputed right. But it is because it accords with the
postulate of the practical reason, that everyone is invested with
the faculty of having as his own any external object upon which he has
exerted his will; and, consequently, all actual possession is a
state whose rightfulness is established upon that postulate by an
anterior act of will. And such an act, if there be no prior possession
of the same object by another opposed to it, does, therefore,
provisionally justify and entitle me, according to the law of external
freedom, to restrain anyone who refuses to enter with me into a
state of public legal freedom from all pretension to the use of such
an object. For such a procedure is requisite, in conformity with the
postulate of reason, in order to subject to my proper use a thing
which would otherwise be practically annihilated, as regards all
proper use of it.
The System of those Laws Which Require No External Promulgation.
CHAPTER II. The Mode of Acquiring Anything External.

10. The General Principle of External Acquisition.

I acquire a thing when I act (efficio) so that it becomes mine. An
external thing is originally mine when it is mine even without the
intervention of a juridical act. An acquisition is original and
primary when it is not derived from what another had already made
his own.
There is nothing external that is as such originally mine; but
anything external may be originally acquired when it is an object that
no other person has yet made his. A state in which the mine and
thine are in common cannot be conceived as having been at any time
original. Such a state of things would have to be acquired by an
external juridical act, although there may be an original and common
possession of an external object. Even if we think hypothetically of a
state in which the mine and thine would be originally in common as a
communio mei et tui originaria, it would still have to be
distinguished from a primeval communion (communio primaeva) with
things in common, sometimes supposed to be founded in the first period
of the relations of right among men, and which could not be regarded
as based upon principles like the former, but only upon history.
Even under that condition the historic communio, as a supposed
primeval community, would always have to be viewed as acquired and
derivative (communio derivativa).
The principle of external acquisition, then, may be expressed
thus: "Whatever I bring under my power according to the law of
external freedom, of which as an object of my free activity of will
I have the capability of making use according to the postulate of
the practical reason, and which I will to become mine in conformity
with the idea of a possible united common will, is mine."
The practical elements (momenta attendenda) constitutive of the
process of original acquisition are:
1. Prehension or seizure of an object which belongs to no one;
for, if it belonged already to some one, the act would conflict with
the freedom of others, that is, according to universal laws. This is
the taking possession of an object of my free activity of will in
space and time; the possession, therefore, into which I thus put
myself is sensible or physical possession (possessio phenomenon);
2. Declaration of the possession of this object by formal
designation and the act of my freewill in interdicting every other
person from using it as his;
3. Appropriation, as the act, in idea, of an externally
legislative common will, by which all and each are obliged to
respect and act in conformity with my act of will.
The validity of the last element in the process of acquisition, as
that on which the conclusion that "the external object is mine" rests,
is what makes the possession valid as a purely rational and
juridical possession (possessio noumenon). It is founded upon the fact
that, as all these acts are juridical, they consequently proceed
from the practical reason, and therefore, in the question as to what
is right, abstraction may be made of the empirical conditions
involved, and the conclusion, "the external object is mine," thus
becomes a correct inference from the external fact of sensible
possession to the internal right of rational possession.
The original primary acquisition of an external object of the action
of the will, is called occupancy. It can only take place in
reference to substances or corporeal things. Now when this
occupation of an external object does take place, the act presupposes,
as a condition of such empirical possession, its priority in time
before the act of any other who may also be willing to enter upon
occupation of it. Hence the legal maxim: "qui prior tempore, potior
jure." Such occupation as original or primary is, further, the
effect only of a single or unilateral will; for were a bilateral or
twofold will requisite for it, it would be derived from a contract
of two or more persons with each other, and consequently it would be
based upon what another or others had already made their own. It is
not easy to see how such an act of free-will as this would be could
really form a foundation for every one having his own. However, the
first acquisition of a thing is on that account not quite exactly
the same as the original acquisition of it. For the acquisition of a
public juridical state by union of the wills of all in a universal
legislation would be such an original acquisition, seeing that no
other of the kind could precede it, and yet it would be derived from
the particular wills of all the individuals, and consequently become
all-sided or omnilateral; for a properly primary acquisition can
only proceed from an individual or unilateral or unilateral will.


I. In respect of the matter of object of acquisition, I acquire
either a corporeal thing (substance), or the performance of
something by another (causality), or this other as a person in respect
of his state, so far as I have a right to dispose of the same (in a
relation of reciprocity with him).
II. In respect of the form or mode of acquisition, it is either a
real right (jus reale), or a personal right (jus personale), or a
real-personal right (jus realiter personale), to the possession
although not to the use, of another person as if he were a thing.
III. In respect of the ground of right or the title (titulus) of
acquisition- which, properly, is not a particular member of the
division of rights, but rather a constituent element of the mode of
exercising them- anything external is acquired by a certain free
exercise of will that is either unilateral, as the act of a single
will (facto), or bilateral, as the act of two wills (pacto), or
omnilateral, as the act of all the wills of a community together

SECTION I. Principles of Real Right.
11. What is a Real Right?

The usual definition of real right, or "right in a thing" (jus
reale, jus in re), is that "it is a right as against every possessor
of it." This is a correct nominal definition. But what is it that
entitles me to claim an external object from any one who may appear as
its possessor, and to compel him, per vindicationem, to put me
again, in place of himself, into possession of it? Is this external
juridical relation of my will a kind of immediate relation to an
external thing? If so, whoever might think of his right as referring
not immediately to persons but to things would have to represent it,
although only in an obscure way, somewhat thus. A right on one side
has always a duty corresponding to it on the other, so that an
external thing, although away from the hands of its first possessor,
continues to be still connected with him by a continuing obligation;
and thus it refuses to fall under the claim of any other possessor,
because it is already bound to another. In this way my right, viewed
as a kind of good genius accompanying a thing and preserving it from
all external attack, would refer an alien possessor always to me! It
is, however, absurd to think of an obligation of persons towards
things, and conversely; although it may be allowed in any particular
case to represent the juridical relation by a sensible image of this
kind, and to express it in this way.
The real definition would run thus: "Right in a thing is a right
to the private use of a thing, of which I am in possession- original
or derivative- in common with all others." For this is the one
condition under which it is alone possible that I can exclude every
others possessor from the private use of the thing (jus contra
quemlibet hujus rei possessorem). For, except by presupposing such a
common collective possession, it cannot be conceived how, when I am
not in actual possession of a thing, I could be injured or wronged
by others who are in possession of it and use it. By an individual act
of my own will I cannot oblige any other person to abstain from the
use of a thing in respect of which he would otherwise be under no
obligation; and, accordingly, such an obligation can only arise from
the collective will of all united in a relation of common
possession. Otherwise, I would have to think of a right in a thing, as
if the thing has an obligation towards me, and as if the right as
against every possessor of it had to be derived from this obligation
in the thing, which is an absurd way of representing the subject.
Further, by the term real right (jus reale) is meant not only the
right in a thing (jus in re), but also the constitutive principle of
all the laws which relate to the real mine and thine. It is,
however, evident that a man entirely alone upon the earth could
properly neither have nor acquire any external thing as his own;
because, between him as a person and all external things as material
objects, there could be no relations of obligation. There is
therefore, literally, no direct right in a thing, but only that
right is to be properly called "real" which belongs to any one as
constituted against a person, who is in common possession of things
with all others in the civil state of society.

12. The First Acquisition of a Thing can only
be that of the Soil.

By the soil is understood all habitable Land. In relation to
everything that is moveable upon it, it is to be regarded as a
substance, and the mode of the existence of the moveables is viewed as
an inherence in it. And just as, in the theoretical acceptance,
accidents cannot exist apart from their substances, so, in the
practical relation, moveables upon the soil cannot be regarded as
belonging to any one unless he is supposed to have been previously
in juridical possession of the soil, so that it is thus considered
to be his.
For, let it be supposed that the soil belongs to no one. Then I
would be entitled to remove every moveable thing found upon it from
its place, even to total loss of it, in order to occupy that place,
without infringing thereby on the freedom of any other; there being,
by the hypothesis, no possessor of it at all. But everything that
can be destroyed, such as a tree, a house, and such like- as regards
its matter at least- is moveable; and if we call a thing which
cannot be moved without destruction of its form an immoveable, the
mine and thine in it is not understood as applying to its substance,
but to that which is adherent to it and which does not essentially
constitute the thing itself.

13. Every Part of the Soil may be Originally Acquired; and
the Principle of the Possibility of such Acquisition
is the Original Community of the Soil Generally.

The first clause of this proposition is founded upon the postulate
of the practical reason (SS 2); the second is established by the
following proof.
All men are originally and before any juridical act of will in
rightful possession of the soil; that is, they have a right to be
wherever nature or chance has placed them without their will.
Possession (possessio), which is to be distinguished from
residential settlement (sedes) as a voluntary, acquired, and permanent
possession, becomes common possession, on account of the connection
with each other of all the places on the surface of the earth as a
globe. For, had the surface of the earth been an infinite plain, men
could have been so dispersed upon it that they might not have come
into any necessary communion with each other, and a state of social
community would not have been a necessary consequence of their
existence upon the earth. Now that possession proper to all men upon
the earth, which is prior to all their particular juridical acts,
constitutes an original possession in common (communio possessionis
originaria). The conception of such an original, common possession
of things is not derived from experience, nor is it dependent on
conditions of time, as is the case with the imaginary and
indemonstrable fiction of a primaeval community of possession in
actual history. Hence it is a practical conception of reason,
involving in itself the only principle according to which men may
use the place they happen to occupy on the surface of the earth, in
accordance with laws of right.

14. The Juridical Act of this Original
Acquisition is Occupancy.

The act of taking possession (apprehensio), being at its beginning
the physical appropriation of a corporeal thing in space (possessionis
physicae), can accord with the law of the external freedom of all,
under no other condition than that of its priority in respect of time.
In this relation it must have the characteristic of a first act in the
way of taking possession, as a free exercise of will. The activity
of will, however, as determining that the thing- in this case a
definite separate place on the surface of the earth- shall be mine,
being an act of appropriation, cannot be otherwise in the case of
original acquisition than individual or unilateral (voluntas
unilateralis s. propria). Now, occupancy is the acquisition of an
external object by an individual act of will. The original acquisition
of such an object as a limited portion of the soil can therefore
only be accomplished by an act of occupation.
The possibility of this mode of acquisition cannot be intuitively
apprehended by pure reason in any way, nor established by its
principles, but is an immediate consequence from the postulate of
the practical reason. The will as practical reason, however, cannot
justify external acquisition otherwise than only in so far as it is
itself included in an absolutely authoritative will, with which it
is united by implication; or, in other words, only in so far as it
is contained within a union of the wills of all who come into
practical relation with each other. For an individual, unilateral
will- and the same applies to a dual or other particular will-
cannot impose on all an obligation which is contingent in itself. This
requires an omnilateral or universal will, which is not contingent,
but a priori, and which is therefore necessarily united and
legislative. Only in accordance with such a principle can there be
agreement of the active free-will of each individual with the
freedom of all, and consequently rights in general, or even the
possibility of an external mine and thine.

15. It is Only within a Civil Constitution that Anything can
be Acquired Peremptorily, whereas in the State of Nature
Acquisition can only be Provisory.

A civil constitution is objectively necessary as a duty, although
subjectively its reality is contingent. Hence, there is connected with
it a real natural law of right, to which all external acquisition is
The empirical title of acquisition has been shown to be
constituted by the taking physical possession (apprehensio physica) as
founded upon an original community of right in all to the soil. And
because a possession in the phenomenal sphere of sense can only be
subordinated to that possession which is in accordance with rational
conceptions of right, there must correspond to this physical act of
possession a rational mode of taking possession by elimination of
all the empirical conditions in space and time. This rational form
of possession establishes the proposition that "whatever I bring under
my power in accordance with laws of external freedom, and will that it
shall be mine, becomes mine."
The rational title of acquisition can therefore only lie
originally in the idea of the will of all united implicitly, or
necessarily to be united, which is here tacitly assumed as an
indispensable condition (conditio sine qua non). For by a single
will there cannot be imposed upon others an obligation by which they
would not have been otherwise bound. But the fact formed by wills
actually and universally united in a legislation constitutes the civil
state of society. Hence, it is only in conformity with the idea of a
civil state of society, or in reference to it and its realization,
that anything external can be acquired. Before such a state is
realized, and in anticipation of it, acquisition, which would
otherwise be derived, is consequently only provisory. The
acquisition which is peremptory finds place only in the civil state.
Nevertheless, such provisory acquisition is real acquisition. For,
according to the postulate of the juridically practical reason, the
possibility of acquisition in whatever state men may happen to be
living beside one another, and therefore in the state of nature as
well, is a principle of private right. And in accordance with this
principle, every one is justified or entitled to exercise that
compulsion by which it alone becomes possible to pass out of the state
of nature and to enter into that state of civil society which alone
can make all acquisition peremptory.

It is a question as to how far the right of taking possession of the
soil extends. The answer is, So far as the capability of having it
under one's power extends; that is, just as far as he who wills to
appropriate it can defend it, as if the soil were to say: "If you
cannot protect me, neither can you command me." In this way the
controversy about what constitutes a free or closed sea must be
decided. Thus, within the range of a cannon-shot no one has a right to
intrude on the coast of a country that already belongs to a certain
state, in order to fish or gather amber on the shore, or such like.
Further, the question is put, "Is cultivation of the soil, by
building, agriculture, drainage, etc., necessary in order to its
acquisition?" No. For, as these processes as forms of specification
are only accidents, they do not constitute objects of immediate
possession and can only belong to the subject in so far as the
substance of them has been already recognized as his. When it is a
question of the first acquisition of a thing, the cultivation or
modification of it by labour forms nothing more than an external
sign of the fact that it has been taken into possession, and this
can be indicated by many other signs that cost less trouble. Again:
"May any one be hindered in the act of taking possession, so that
neither one nor other of two competitors shall acquire the right of
priority, and the soil in consequence may remain for all time free
as belonging to no one?" Not at all. Such a hindrance cannot be
allowed to take place, because the second of the two, in order to be
enabled to do this, would himself have to be upon some neighbouring
soil, where he also, in this manner, could be hindered from being, and
such absolute hindering would involve a contradiction. It would,
however, be quite consistent with the right of occupation, in the case
of a certain intervening piece of the soil, to let it lie unused as
a neutral ground for the separation of two neighbouring states; but
under such a condition, that ground would actually belong to them both
in common, and would not be without an owner (res nullius), just
because it would be used by both in order to form a separation between
them. Again: "May one have a thing as his, on a soil of which no one
has appropriated any part as his own?" Yes. In Mongolia, for
example, any one may let lie whatever baggage he has, or bring back
the horse that has run away from him into his possession as his own,
because the whole soil belongs to the people generally, and the use of
it accordingly belongs to every individual. But that any one can
have a moveable thing on the soil of another as his own is only
possible by contract. Finally, there is the question: "May one of
two neighbouring nations or tribes resist another when attempting to
impose upon them a certain mode of using a particular soil; as, for
instance, a tribe of hunters making such an attempt in relation to a
pastoral people, or the latter to agriculturists and such like?"
Certainly. For the mode in which such peoples or tribes may settle
themselves upon the surface of the earth, provided they keep within
their own boundaries, is a matter of mere pleasure and choice on their
own part (res merae facultatis).
As a further question, it may be asked whether, when neither
nature nor chance, but merely our own will, brings us into the
neighbourhood of a people that gives no promise of a prospect of
entering into civil union with us, we are to be considered entitled in
any case to proceed with force in the intention of founding such a
union, and bringing into a juridical state such men as the savage
American Indians, the Hottentots,and the New Hollanders; or- and the
case is not much better- whether we may establish colonies by
deceptive purchase, and so become owners of their soil, and, in
general, without regard to their first possession, make use at will of
our superiority in relation to them? Further, may it not be held
that Nature herself, as abhorring a vacuum, seems to demand such a
procedure, and that large regions in other continents, that are now
magnificently peopled, would otherwise have remained unpossessed by
civilized inhabitants and might have for ever remained thus, so that
the end of creation would have so far been frustrated? It is almost
unnecessary to answer; for it is easy to see through all this flimsy
veil of injustice, which just amounts to the Jesuitism of making a
good end justify any means. This mode of acquiring the soil is,
therefore, to be repudiated.
The indefiniteness of external acquirable objects in respect of
their quantity, as well as their quality, makes the problem of the
sole primary external acquisition of them one of the most difficult to
solve. There must, however, be some one first acquisition of an
external object; for every Acquisition cannot be derivative. Hence,
the problem is not to be given up as insoluble or in itself as
impossible. If it is solved by reference to the original contract,
unless this contract is extended so as to include the whole human
race, acquisition under it would still remain but provisional.

16. Exposition of the Conception of a Primary
Acquisition of the Soil.

All men are originally in a common collective possession of the soil
of the whole earth (communio fundi originaria), and they have
naturally each a will to use it (lex justi). But on account of the
opposition of the free will of one to that of the other in the
sphere of action, which is inevitable by nature, all use of the soil
would be prevented did not every will contain at the same time a law
for the regulation of the relation of all wills in action, according
to which a particular possession can be determined to every one upon
the common soil. This is the juridical law (lex juridica). But the
distributive law of the mine and thine, as applicable to each
individual on the soil, according to the axiom of external freedom,
cannot proceed otherwise than from a primarily united will a priori-
which does not presuppose any juridical act as requisite for this
union. This Law can only take form in the civil state (lex justitiae
distributivae); as it is in this state alone that the united common
will determines what is right, what is rightful, and what is the
constitution of Right. In reference to this state, however- and
prior to its establishment and in view of it- it is provisorily a duty
for every one to proceed according to the law of external acquisition;
and accordingly it is a juridical procedure on the part of the will to
lay every one under obligation to recognise the act of possessing
and appropriating, although it be only unilaterally. Hence a provisory
acquisition of the soil, with all its juridical consequences, is
possible in the state of nature.
Such an acquisition, however, requires and also obtains the favour
of a permissive law (lex permissiva), in respect of the
determination of the limits of juridically possible possession. For it
precedes the juridical state, and as merely introductory to it is
not yet peremptory; and this favour does not extend farther than the
date of the consent of the other co-operators in the establishment
of the civil state. But if they are opposed to entering into the civil
state, as long as this opposition lasts it carries all the effect of a
guaranteed juridical acquisition with it, because the advance from the
state of nature to the civil state is founded upon a duty.

17. Deduction of the Conception of the Original
Primary Acquisition.

We have found the title of acquisition in a universal original
community of the soil, under the conditions of an external acquisition
in space; and the mode of acquisition is contained in the empirical
fact of taking possession (apprehensio), conjoined with the will to
have an external object as one's own. It is further necessary to
unfold, from the principles of the pure juridically practical reason
involved in the conception, the juridical acquisition proper of an
object- that is, the external mine and thine that follows from the two
previous conditions, as rational possession (possessio noumenon).
The juridical conception of the external mine and thine, so far as
it involves the category of substance, cannot by "that which is
external to me" mean merely "in a place other than that in which I
am"; for it is a rational conception. As under the conceptions of
the reason only intellectual conceptions can be embraced, the
expression in question can only signify "something that is different
and distinct from me" according to the idea of a non-empirical
possession through, as it were, a continuous activity in taking
possession of an external object; and it involves only the notion of
having something in my power, which indicates the connection of an
object with myself, as a subjective condition of the possibility of
making use of it. This forms a purely intellectual conception of the
understanding. Now we can leave out or abstract from the sensible
conditions of possession, as relations of a person to objects which
have no obligation. This process of elimination just gives the
rational relation of a person to persons; and it is such that he can
bind them all by an obligation in reference to the use of things
through his act of will, so far as it is conformable to the axiom of
freedom, the postulate of right, and the universal legislation of
the common will, conceived as united a priori. This is therefore the
rational intelligible possession of things as by pure right,
although they are objects of sense.

It is evident that the first modification, limitation, or
transformation generally, of a portion of the soil cannot of itself
furnish a title to its acquisition, since possession of an accident
does not form a ground for legal possession of the substance.
Rather, conversely, the inference as to the mine and thine must be
drawn from ownership of the substance according to the rule:
Accessarium sequitur suum principale. Hence one who has spent labour
on a piece of ground that was not already his own, has lost his effort
and work to the former owner. This position is so evident of itself
that the old opinion to the opposite effect, that is still spread
far and wide, can hardly be ascribed to any other than the
prevailing illusion which unconsciously leads to the personification
of things; and, then, as if they could be bound under an obligation by
the labour bestowed upon them to be at the service of the person who
does the labour, to regard them as his by immediate right. Otherwise
it is probable that the natural question- already discussed- would not
have been passed over with so light a tread, namely: "How is a right
in a thing possible?" For, right as against every possible possessor
of a thing means only the claim of a particular will to the use of
an object so far as it may be included in the all-comprehending
universal will, and can be thought as in harmony with its law.
As regards bodies situated upon a piece of ground which is already
mine, if they otherwise belong to no other person, they belong to me
without my requiring any particular juridical act for the purpose of
this acquisition; they are mine not facto, but lege. For they may be
regarded as accidents inhering in the substance of the soil, and
they are thus mine jure rei meae. To this category also belongs
everything which is so connected with anything of mine that it
cannot be separated from what is mine without altering it
substantially. Examples of this are gilding on an object, mixture of a
material belonging to me with other things, alluvial deposit, or
even alteration of the adjoining bed of a stream or river in my favour
so as to produce an increase of my land, etc. By the same
principles, the question must also be decided as to whether the
acquirable soil may extend farther than the existing land, so as
even to include part of the bed of the sea, with the right to fish
on my own shores, to gather amber and such like. So far as I have
the mechanical capability from my own site, as the place I occupy,
to secure my soil from the attack of others- and, therefore, as far as
cannon can carry from the shore- all is included in my possession, and
the sea is thus far closed (mare clausum). But as there is no site for
occupation upon the wide sea itself, possible possession cannot be
extended so far, and the open sea is free (mare liberum). But in the
case of men, or things that belong to them, becoming stranded on the
shore, since the fact is not voluntary, it cannot be regarded by the
owner of the shore as giving him a right of acquisition. For shipwreck
is not an act of will, nor is its result a lesion to him; and things
which may have come thus upon his soil, as still belonging to some
one, are not to be treated as being without an owner or res nullius.
On the other hand, a river, so far as possession of the bank
reaches, may be originally acquired, like any other piece of ground,
under the above restrictions, by one who is in possession of both
its banks.


An external object, which in respect of its substance can be claimed
by some one as his own, is called the property (dominium) of that
person to whom all the rights in it as a thing belong- like the
accidents inhering in a substance- and which, therefore, he as the
proprietor (dominus) can dispose of at will (jus disponendi de re
sua). But from this it follows at once that such an object can only be
a corporeal thing towards which there is no direct personal
obligation. Hence a man may be his own master (sui juris) but not
the proprietor of himself (sui dominus), so as to be able to dispose
of himself at will, to say nothing of the possibility of such a
relation to other men; because he is responsible to humanity in his
own person. This point, however, as belonging to the right of humanity
as such, rather than to that of individual men, would not be discussed
at its proper place here, but is only mentioned incidentally for the
better elucidation of what has just been said. It may be further
observed that there may be two full proprietors of one and the same
thing, without there being a mine and thine in common, but only in
so far as they are common possessors of what belongs only to one of
them as his own. In such a case the whole possession, without the
use of the thing, belongs to one only of the co-proprietors
(condomini); while to the others belongs all the use of the thing
along with its possession. The former as the direct proprietor
(dominus directus), therefore, restricts the latter as the
proprietor in use (dominus utilis) to the condition of a certain
continuous performance, with reference to the thing itself, without
limiting him in the use of it.

SECTION II. Principles of Personal Right.

18. Nature and Acquisition of Personal Right.

The possession of the active free-will of another person, as the
power to determine it by my will to a certain action, according to
laws of freedom, is a form of right relating to the external mine
and thine, as affected by the causality of another. It is possible
to have several such rights in reference to the same person or to
different persons. The principle of the system of laws, according to
which I can be in such possession, is that of personal right, and
there is only one such principle.
The acquisition of a personal right can never be primary or
arbitrary; for such a mode of acquiring it would not be in
accordance with the principle of the harmony of the freedom of my will
with the freedom of every other, and it would therefore be wrong.
Nor can such a right be acquired by means of any unjust act of another
(facto injusti alterius), as being itself contrary to right; for if
such a wrong as it implies were perpetrated on me, and I could
demand satisfaction from the other, in accordance with right, yet in
such a case I would only be entitled to maintain undiminished what was
mine, and not to acquire anything more than what I formerly had.
Acquisition by means of the action of another, to which I
determine his will according to laws of right, is therefore always
derived from what that other has as his own. This derivation, as a
juridical act, cannot be effected by a mere negative relinquishment or
renunciation of what is his (per derelictionem aut renunciationem);
because such a negative act would only amount to a cessation of his
right, and not to the acquirement of a right on the part of another.
It is therefore only by positive transference (translatio), or
conveyance, that a personal right can be acquired; and this is only
possible by means of a common will, through which objects come into
the power of one or other, so that as one renounces a particular thing
which he holds under the common right, the same object when accepted
by another, in consequence of a positive act of will, becomes his.
Such transference of the property of one to another is termed its
alienation. The act of the united wills of two persons, by which
what belonged to one passes to the other, constitutes contract.

19. Acquisition by Contract.

In every contract there are four juridical acts of will involved;
two of them being preparatory acts, and two of them constitutive acts.
The two preparatory acts, as forms of treating in the transaction, are
offer (oblatio) and approval (approbatio); the two constitutive
acts, as the forms of concluding the transaction, are promise
(promissum) and acceptance (acceptatio). For an offer cannot
constitute a promise before it can be judged that the thing offered
(oblatum) is something that is agreeable to the party to whom it is
offered, and this much is shown by the first two declarations; but
by them alone there is nothing as yet acquired.
Further, it is neither by the particular will of the promiser nor
that of the acceptor that the property of the former passes over to
the latter. This is effected only by the combined or united wills of
both, and consequently so far only as the will of both is declared
at the same time or simultaneously. Now, such simultaneousness is
impossible by empirical acts of declaration, which can only follow
each other in time and are never actually simultaneous. For if I
have promised, and another person is now merely willing to accept,
during the interval before actual acceptance, however short it may be,
I may retract my offer, because I am thus far still free; and, on
the other side, the acceptor, for the same reason, may likewise hold
himself not to be bound, up till the moment of acceptance, by his
counter-declaration following upon the promise. The external
formalities or solemnities (solemnia) on the conclusion of a contract-
such as shaking hands or breaking a straw (stipula) laid hold of by
two persons- and all the various modes of confirming the
declarations on either side, prove in fact the embarrassment of the
contracting parties as to how and in what way they may represent
declarations, which are always successive, as existing
simultaneously at the same moment; and these forms fail to do this.
They are, by their very nature, acts necessarily following each
other in time, so that when the one act is, the other either is not
yet or is no longer.
It is only the philosophical transcendental deduction of the
conception of acquisition by contract that can remove all these
difficulties. In a juridical external relation, my taking possession
of the free-will of another, as the cause that determined it to a
certain act, is conceived at first empirically by means of the
declaration and counter-declaration of the free-will of each of us
in time, as the sensible conditions of taking possession; and the
two juridical acts must necessarily be regarded as following one
another in time. But because this relation, viewed as juridical, is
purely rational in itself, the will as a law-giving faculty of
reason represents this possession as intelligible or rational
(possessio noumenon), in accordance with conceptions of freedom and
under abstraction of those empirical conditions. And now, the two acts
of promise and acceptance are not regarded as following one another in
time, but, in the manner of a pactum re initum, as proceeding from a
common will, which is expressed by the term "at the same time," or
"simultaneous," and the object promised (promissum) is represented,
under elimination of empirical conditions, as acquired according to
the law of the pure practical reason.

That this is the true and only possible deduction of the idea of
acquisition by contract is sufficiently attested by the laborious
yet always futile striving of writers on jurisprudence such as Moses
Mendelssohn in his Jerusalem- to adduce a proof of its rational
possibility. The question is put thus: "Why ought I to keep my
Promise?" For it is assumed as understood by all that I ought to do
so. It is, however, absolutely impossible to give any further proof of
the categorical imperative implied; just as it is impossible for the
geometrician to prove by rational syllogisms that in order to
construct a triangle I must take three lines- so far an analytical
proposition- of which three lines any two together must be greater
than the third- a synthetical proposition, and like the former a
priori. It is a postulate of the pure reason that we ought to abstract
from all the sensible conditions of space and time in reference to the
conception of right; and the theory of the possibility of such
abstraction from these conditions, without taking away the reality
of the possession, just constitutes the transcendental deduction of
the conception of acquisition by contract. It is quite akin to what
was presented under the last title, as the theory of acquisition by
occupation of the external object.

20. What is Acquired by Contract.

But what is that, designated as external, which I acquire by
contract? As it is only the causality of the active will of another,
in respect of the performance of something promised to me, I do not
immediately acquire thereby an external thing, but an act of the
will in question, whereby a thing is brought under my power so that
I make it mine. By the contract, therefore, I acquire the promise of
another, as distinguished from the thing promised; and yet something
is thereby added to my having and possession. I have become the richer
in possession (locupletior) by the acquisition of an active obligation
that I can bring to bear upon the freedom and capability of another.
This my right, however, is only a personal right, valid only to the
effect of acting upon a particular physical person and specially
upon the causality of his will, so that he shall perform something for
me. It is not a real right upon that moral person, which is identified
with the idea of the united will of all viewed a priori, and through
which alone I can acquire a right valid against every possessor of the
thing. For, it is in this that all right in a thing consists.

The transfer or transmission of what is mine to another by contract,
takes place according to the law of continuity (lex continui).
Possession of the object is not interrupted for a moment during this
act; for, otherwise, I would acquire an object in this state as a
thing that had no possessor, and it would thus be acquired originally,
which is contrary to the idea of a contract. This continuity, however,
implies that it is not the particular will of either the promiser or
the acceptor, but their united will in common, that transfers what
is mine to another. And hence it is not accomplished in such a
manner that the promiser first relinquishes (derelinquit) his
possession for the benefit of another, or renounces his right
(renunciat), and thereupon the other at the same time enters upon
it; or conversely. The transfer (translatio) is therefore an act in
which the object belongs for a moment at the same time to both, just
as in the parabolic path of a projectile the object on reaching its
highest point may be regarded for a moment as at the same time both
rising and falling, and as thus passing in fact from the ascending
to the falling motion.

21. Acceptance and Delivery.

A thing is not acquired in a case of contract by the acceptance
(acceptatio) of the promise, but only by the delivery (traditio) of
the object promised. For all promise is relative to performance; and
if what was promised is a thing, the performance cannot be executed
otherwise than by an act whereby the acceptor is put by the promiser
into possession of the thing; and this is delivery. Before the
delivery and the reception of the thing, the performance of the act
required has not yet taken place; the thing has not yet passed from
the one person to the other and, consequently, has not been acquired
by that other. Hence the right arising from a contract is only a
personal right; and it only becomes a real right by delivery.

A contract upon which delivery immediately follows (pactum re
initum) excludes any interval of time between its conclusion and its
execution; and as such it requires no further particular act in the
future by which one person may transfer to another what is his. But if
there is a time- definite or indefinite- agreed upon between them
for the delivery, the question then arises whether the thing has
already before that time become the acceptor's by the contract, so
that his right is a right in the thing; or whether a further special
contract regarding the delivery alone must be entered upon, so that
the right that is acquired by mere acceptance is only a personal
right, and thus it does not become a right in the thing until
delivery? That the relation must be determined according to the latter
alternative will be clear from what follows.
Suppose I conclude a contract about a thing that I wish to
acquire- such as a horse- and that I take it immediately into my
stable, or otherwise into my possession; then it is mine (vi pacti
re initi), and my right is a right in the thing. But if I leave it
in the hands of the seller without arranging with him specially in
whose physical possession or holding (detentio) this thing shall be
before my taking possession of it (apprehensio), and consequently,
before the actual change of possession, the horse is not yet mine; and
the right which I acquire is only a right against a particular person-
namely, the seller of the horse- to be put into possession of the
object (poscendi traditionem) as the subjective condition of any use
of it at my will. My right is thus only a personal right to demand
from the seller the performance of his promise (praestatio) to put
me into possession of the thing. Now, if the contract does not contain
the condition of delivery at the same time- as a pactum re initum- and
consequently an interval of time intervenes between the conclusion
of the contract and the taking possession of the object of
acquisition, I cannot obtain possession of it during this interval
otherwise than by exercising the particular juridical activity
called a possessory act (actum possessorium), which constitutes a
special contract. This act consists in my saying, "I will send to
fetch the horse," to which the seller has to agree. For it is not
self-evident or universally reasonable that any one will take a
thing destined for the use of another into his charge at his own risk.
On the contrary, a special contract is necessary for this arrangement,
according to which the alienator of a thing continues to be its
owner during a certain definite time, and must bear the risk of
whatever may happen to it; while the acquirer can only be regarded
by the seller as the owner when he has delayed to enter into
possession beyond the date at which he agreed to take delivery.
Prior to the possessory act, therefore, all that is acquired by the
contract is only a personal right; and the acceptor can acquire an
external thing only by delivery.

SECTION III. Principles of Personal Right that is Real
in Kind. (Jus Realiter Personale).
22. Nature of Personal Right of a Real Kind.

Personal right of a real kind is the right to the possession of an
external object as a thing, and to the use of it as a person. The mine
and thine embraced under this right relate specially to the family and
household; and the relations involved are those of free beings in
reciprocal real interaction with each other. Through their relations
and influence as persons upon one another, in accordance with the
principle of external freedom as the cause of it, they form a
society composed as a whole of members standing in community with each
other as persons; and this constitutes the household. The mode in
which this social status is acquired by individuals, and the functions
which prevail within it, proceed neither by arbitrary individual
action (facto), nor by mere contract (pacto), but by law (lege). And
this law as being not only a right, but also as constituting
possession in reference to a person, is a right rising above all
mere real and personal right. It must, in fact, form the right of
humanity in our own person; and, as such, it has as its consequence
a natural permissive law, by the favour of which such acquisition
becomes possible to us.

23. What is acquired in the household.

The acquisition that is founded upon this law is, as regards its
objects, threefold. The man acquires a wife; the husband and wife
acquire children, constituting a family; and the family acquire
domestics. All these objects, while acquirable, are inalienable; and
the right of possession in these objects is the most strictly personal
of all rights.

The Rights of the Family as a Domestic Society

Title I. Conjugal Right. (Husband and Wife)
24. The Natural Basis of Marriage.

The domestic relations are founded on marriage, and marriage is
founded upon the natural reciprocity or intercommunity (commercium) of
the sexes.* This natural union of the sexes proceeds according to
the mere animal nature (vaga libido, venus vulgivaga, fornicatio),
or according to the law. The latter is marriage (matrimonium), which
is the union of two persons of different sex for life-long
reciprocal possession of their sexual faculties. The end of
producing and educating children may be regarded as always the end
of nature in implanting mutual desire and inclination in the sexes;
but it is not necessary for the rightfulness of marriage that those
who marry should set this before themselves as the end of their union,
otherwise the marriage would be dissolved of itself when the
production of children ceased.

*Commercium sexuale est usus membrorum et facultatum sexualium
alterius. This "usus" is either natural, by which human beings may
reproduce their own kind, or unnatural, which, again, refers either to
a person of the same sex or to an animal of another species than
man. These transgressions of all law, as crimina carnis contra
naturam, are even "not to be named"; and, as wrongs against all
humanity in the person, they cannot be saved, by any limitation or
exception whatever, from entire reprobation.

And even assuming that enjoyment in the reciprocal use of the sexual
endowments is an end of marriage, yet the contract of marriage is
not on that account a matter of arbitrary will, but is a contract
necessary in its nature by the law of humanity. In other words, if a
man and a woman have the will to enter on reciprocal enjoyment in
accordance with their sexual nature, they must necessarily marry
each other; and this necessity is in accordance with the juridical
laws of pure reason.

25. The Rational Right of Marriage.

For, this natural commercium- as a usus membrorum sexualium
alterius- is an enjoyment for which the one person is given up to
the other. In this relation the human individual makes himself a
res, which is contrary to the right of humanity in his own person.
This, however, is only possible under the one condition, that as the
one person is acquired by the other as a res, that same person also
equally acquires the other reciprocally, and thus regains and
reestablishes the rational personality. The acquisition of a part of
the human organism being, on account of its unity, at the same time
the acquisition of the whole person, it follows that the surrender and
acceptation of, or by, one sex in relation to the other, is not only
permissible under the condition of marriage, but is further only
really possible under that condition. But the personal right thus
acquired is, at the same time, real in kind; and this characteristic
of it is established by the fact that if one of the married persons
run away or enter into the possession of another, the other is
entitled, at any time, and incontestably, to bring such a one back
to the former relation, as if that person were a thing.

26. Monogamy and Equality in Marriage.

For the same reasons, the relation of the married persons to each
other is a relation of equality as regards the mutual possession of
their persons, as well as of their goods. Consequently marriage is
only truly realized in monogamy; for in the relation of polygamy the
person who is given away on the one side, gains only a part of the one
to whom that person is given up, and therefore becomes a mere res. But
in respect of their goods, they have severally the right to renounce
the use of any part of them, although only by a special contract.

From the principle thus stated, it also follows that concubinage
is as little capable of being brought under a contract of right as the
hiring of a person on any one occasion, in the way of a pactum
fornicationis. For, as regards such a contract as this latter relation
would imply, it must be admitted by all that any one who might enter
into it could not be legally held to the fulfillment of their
promise if they wished to resile from it. And as regards the former, a
contract of concubinage would also fall as a pactum turpe; because
as a contract of the hire (locatio, conductio), of a part for the
use of another, on account of the inseparable unity of the members
of a person, any one entering into such a contract would be actually
surrendering as a res to the arbitrary will of another. Hence any
party may annul a contract like this if entered into with any other,
at any time and at pleasure; and that other would have no ground, in
the circumstances, to complain of a lesion of his right. The same
holds likewise of a morganatic or "left-hand" marriage, contracted
in order to turn the inequality in the social status of the two
parties to advantage in the way of establishing the social supremacy
of the one over the other; for, in fact, such a relation is not really
different from concubinage, according to the principles of natural
right, and therefore does not constitute a real marriage. Hence the
question may be raised as to whether it is not contrary to the
equality of married persons when the law says in any way of the
husband in relation to the wife, "he shall be thy master," so that
he is represented as the one who commands, and she is the one who
obeys. This, however, cannot be regarded as contrary to the natural
equality of a human pair, if such legal supremacy is based only upon
the natural superiority of the faculties of the husband compared
with the wife, in the effectuation of the common interest of the
household, and if the right to command is based merely upon this fact.
For this right may thus be deduced from the very duty of unity and
equality in relation to the end involved.

27. Fulfillment of the Contract of Marriage.

The contract of marriage is completed only by conjugal cohabitation.
A contract of two persons of different sex, with the secret
understanding either to abstain from conjugal cohabitation or with the
consciousness on either side of incapacity for it, is a simulated
contract; it does not constitute a marriage, and it may be dissolved
by either of the parties at will. But if the incapacity only arises
after marriage, the right of the contract is not annulled or
diminished by a contingency that cannot be legally blamed.
The acquisition of a spouse, either as a husband or as a wife, is
therefore not constituted facto- that is, by cohabitation- without a
preceding contract; nor even pacto- by a mere contract of marriage,
without subsequent cohabitation; but only lege, that is, as a
juridical consequence of the obligation that is formed by two
persons entering into a sexual union solely on the basis of a
reciprocal possession of each other, which possession at the same time
is only effected in reality by the reciprocal usus facultatum
sexualium alterius.

Title II. Parental Right. (Parent and Child).
28. The Relation of Parent and Child.

From the duty of man towards himself- that is, towards the
humanity in his own person there thus arises a personal right on the
part of the members of the opposite sexes, as persons, to acquire
one another really and reciprocally by marriage. In like manner,
from the fact of procreation in the union thus constituted, there
follows the duty of preserving and rearing children as the products of
this union. Accordingly, children, as persons, have, at the same time,
an original congenital right- distinguished from mere hereditary
right- to be reared by the care of their parents till they are capable
of maintaining themselves; and this provision becomes immediately
theirs by law, without any particular juridical act being required
to determine it.
For what is thus produced is a person, and it is impossible to think
of a being endowed with personal freedom as produced merely by a
physical process. And hence, in the practical relation, it is quite
a correct and even a necessary idea to regard the act of generation as
a process by which a person is brought without his consent into the
world and placed in it by the responsible free will of others. This
act, therefore, attaches an obligation to the parents to make their
children- as far as their power goes- contented with the condition
thus acquired. Hence parents cannot regard their child as, in a
manner, a thing of their own making; for a being endowed with
freedom cannot be so regarded. Nor, consequently, have they a right to
destroy it as if it were their own property, or even to leave it to
chance; because they have brought a being into the world who becomes
in fact a citizen of the world, and they have placed that being in a
state which they cannot be left to treat with indifference, even
according to the natural conceptions of right.

We cannot even conceive how it is possible that God can create
free beings; for it appears as if all their future actions, being
predetermined by that first act, would be contained in the chain of
natural necessity, and that, therefore, they could not be free. But as
men we are free in fact, as is proved by the categorical imperative in
the moral and practical relation as an authoritative decision of
reason; yet reason cannot make the possibility of such a relation of
cause to effect conceivable from the theoretical point of view,
because they are both suprasensible. All that can be demanded of
reason under these conditions would merely be to prove that there is
no contradiction involved in the conception of a creation of free
beings; and this may be done by showing that contradiction only arises
when, along with the category of causality, the condition of time is
transferred to the relation of suprasensible things. This condition,
as implying that the cause of an effect must precede the effect as its
reason, is inevitable in thinking the relation of objects of sense
to one another; and if this conception of causality were to have
objective reality given to it in the theoretical bearing, it would
also have to be referred to the suprasensible sphere. But the
contradiction vanishes when the pure category, apart from any sensible
conditions, is applied from the moral and practical point of view, and
consequently as in a non-sensible relation to the conception of
The philosophical jurist will not regard this investigation, when
thus carried back even to the ultimate principles of the
transcendental philosophy, as an unnecessary subtlety in a
metaphysic of morals, or as losing itself in aimless obscurity, when
he takes into consideration the difficulty of doing justice in this
inquiry to the ultimate relations of the principles of right.

29. The Rights of the Parent.

From the duty thus indicated, there further necessarily arises the
right of the parents to the management and training of the child, so
long as it is itself incapable of making proper use of its body as
an organism, and of its mind as an understanding. This involves its
nourishment and the care of its education. This includes, in
general, the function of forming and developing it practically, that
it may be able in the future to maintain and advance itself, and
also its moral culture and development, the guilt of neglecting it
falling upon the parents. All this training is to be continued till
the child reaches the period of emancipation (emancipatio), as the age
of practicable self-support. The parents then virtually renounce the
parental right to command, as well as all claim to repayment for their
previous care and trouble; for which care and trouble, after the
process of education is complete, they can only appeal to the
children, by way of any claim, on the ground of the obligation of
gratitude as a duty of virtue.
From the fact of personality in the children, it further follows
that they can never be regarded as the property of the parents, but
only as belonging to them by way of being in their possession, like
other things that are held apart from the possession of all others and
that can be brought back even against the will of the subjects.
Hence the right of the parents is not a purely real right, and it is
not alienable (jus personalissimum). But neither is it a merely
personal right; it is a personal right of a real kind, that is, a
personal right that is constituted and exercised after the manner of a
real right.
It is therefore evident that the title of a personal right of a real
kind must necessarily be added, in the science of right, to the titles
of real right and personal right, the division of rights into these
two being not complete. For, if the right of the parents to the
children were treated as if it were merely a real right to a part of
what belongs to their house, they could not found only upon the duty
of the children to return to them in claiming them when they run away,
but they would be then entitled to seize them and impound them like
things or runaway cattle.

TITLE III. Household Right. (Master and Servant)
30. Relation and Right of the Master of a Household.

The children of the house, who, along with the parents, constitute a
family, attain majority, and become masters of themselves (majorennes,
sui juris), even without a contract of release from their previous
state of dependence, by their actually attaining to the capability
of self-maintenance. This attainment arises, on the one hand, as a
state of natural majority, with the advance of years in the general
course of nature; and, on the other hand, it takes form, as a state in
accordance with their own natural condition. They thus acquire the
right of being their own masters, without the interposition of any
special juridical act, and therefore merely by law (lege); and they
owe their parents nothing by way of legal debt for their education,
just as the parents, on their side, are now released from their
obligations to the children in the same way. Parents and children thus
gain or regain their natural freedom; and the domestic society,
which was necessary according to the law of right, is thus naturally
Both parties, however, may resolve to continue the household, but
under another mode of obligation. It may assume the form of a relation
between the bead of the house, as its master, and the other members as
domestic servants, male or female; and the connection between them
in this new regulated domestic economy (societas herilis) may be
determined by contract. The master of the house, actually or
virtually, enters into contract with the children, now become major
and masters of themselves; or, if there be no children in the
family, with other free persons constituting the membership of the
household; and thus there is established domestic relationship not
founded on social equality, but such that one commands as master,
and another obeys as servant (imperantis et subjecti domestici).
The domestics or servants may then be regarded by the master of
the household as thus far his. As regards the form or mode of his
possession of them, they belong to him as if by a real right; for if
any of them run away, he is entitled to bring them again under his
power by a unilateral act of his will. But as regards the matter of
his right, or the use he is entitled to make of such persons as his
domestics, he is not entitled to conduct himself towards them as if he
was their proprietor or owner (dominus servi); because they are only
subjected to his power by contract, and by a contract under certain
definite restrictions. For a contract by which the one party renounced
his whole freedom for the advantage of the other, ceasing thereby to
be a person and consequently having no duty even to observe a
contract, is self contradictory, and is therefore of itself null and
void. The question as to the right of property in relation to one
who has lost his legal personality by a crime does not concern us
This contract, then, of the master of a household with his
domestics, cannot be of such a nature that the use of them could
ever rightly become an abuse of them; and the judgement as to what
constitutes use or abuse in such circumstances the is not left
merely to the master, but is also competent to the servants, who ought
never to be held in bondage or bodily servitude as slaves or serfs.
Such a contract cannot, therefore, be concluded for life, but in all
cases only for a definite period, within which one party may
intimate to the other a termination of their connection. Children,
however, including even the children of one who has become enslaved
owing to a crime, are always free. For every man is born free, because
he has at birth as yet broken no law; and even the cost of his
education till his maturity cannot be reckoned as a debt which he is
bound to pay. Even a slave, if it were in his power, would be bound to
educate his children without being entitled to count and reckon with
them for the cost; and in view of his own incapacity for discharging
this function, the possessor of a slave, therefore, enters upon the
obligation which he has rendered the slave himself unable to fulfil.

Here, again, as under the first two titles, it is clear that there
is a personal right of a real kind, in the relation of the master of a
house to his domestics. For he can legally demand them as belonging to
what is externally his, from any other possessor of them; and he is
entitled to fetch them back to his house, even before the reasons that
may have led them to run away, and their particular right in the
circumstances, have been juridically investigated.


31. Division of Contracts Juridical Conceptions
of Money and a Book.

It is reasonable to demand that a metaphysical science of right
shall completely and definitely determine the members of a logical
division of its conceptions a priori, and thus establish them in a
genuine system. All empirical division, on the other hand, is merely
fragmentary partition, and it leaves us in uncertainty as to whether
there may not be more members still required to complete the whole
sphere of the divided conception. A division that is made according to
a principle a priori may be called, in contrast to all empirical
partitions, a dogmatic division.
Every contract, regarded in itself objectively, consists of two
juridical acts: the promise and its acceptance. Acquisition by the
latter, unless it be a pactum re initum which requires delivery, is
not a part, but the juridically necessary consequence of the contract.
Considered again subjectively, or as to whether the acquisition, which
ought to happen as a necessary consequence according to reason, will
also follow, in fact, as a physical consequence, it is evident that
I have no security or guarantee that this will happen by the mere
acceptance of a promise. There is, therefore, something externally
required connected with the mode of the contract, in reference to
the certainty of acquisition by it; and this can only be some
element completing and determining the means necessary to the
attainment of acquisition as realizing the purpose of the contract.
And in his connection and behoof, three persons are required to
intervene- the promiser, the acceptor, and the cautioner or surety.
The importance of the cautioner is evident; but by his intervention
and his special contract with the promiser, the acceptor gains nothing
in respect of the object but the means of compulsion that enable him
to obtain what is his own.
According to these rational principles of logical division, there
are properly only three pure and simple modes of contract. There
are, however, innumerable mixed and empirical modes, adding
statutory and conventional forms to the principles of mine and thine
that are in accordance with rational laws. But they lie outside of the
circle of the metaphysical science of right, whose rational modes of
contract can alone be indicated here.
All contracts are founded upon a purpose of acquisition, and are
A. Gratuitous contracts, with unilateral acquisition; or
B. Onerous contracts, with reciprocal acquisition; or
C. Cautionary contracts, with no acquisition, but only guarantee
of what has been already acquired. These contracts may be gratuitous
on the one side, and yet, at the same time, onerous on the other.

A. The gratuitous contracts (pacta gratuita) are:
1. Depositation (depositum), involving the preservation of some
valuable deposited in trust;
2. Commodate (commodatum) a loan of the use of a thing;
3. Donation (donatio), a free gift.
B. The onerous contracts are contracts either of permutation or of
I. Contracts of permutation or reciprocal exchange (permutatio
late sic dicta):
1. Barter, or strictly real exchange (permutatio stricte sic
dicta). Goods exchanged for goods.
2. Purchase and sale (emptio venditio). Goods exchanged for money.
3. Loan (mutuum). Loan of a fungible under condition of its
being returned in kind: corn for corn, or money for money.
II. Contracts of letting and hiring (locatio conductio):
1. Letting of a thing on hire to another person who is to make use
of it (locatio rei). If the thing can only be restored in specie, it
may be the subject of an onerous contract combining the
consideration of interest with it (pactum usurarium).
2. Letting of work on hire (locatio operae). Consent to the use of
my powers by another for a certain price (merces). The worker under
this contract is a hired servant (mercenarius).
3. Mandate (mandatum). The contract of mandate is an engagement to
perform or execute a certain business in place and in name of
another person. If the action is merely done in the place of
another, but not, at the same time, in his name, it is performance
without commission (gestio negotii); but if it is rightfully performed
in name of the other, it constitutes mandate, which as a contract of
procuration is an onerous contract (mandatum onerosum).
C. The cautionary contracts (cautiones) are:
1. Pledge (pignus). Caution by a moveable deposited as security.
2. Suretyship (fidejussio). Caution for the fulfillment of the
promise of another.
3. Personal security (praestatio obsidis).
Guarantee of personal performance.
This list of all modes in which the property of one person may be
transferred or conveyed to another includes conceptions of certain
objects or instruments required for such transference (translatio).
These appear to be entirely empirical, and it may therefore seem
questionable whether they are entitled to a place in a metaphysical
science of right. For, in such a science, the divisions must be made
according to principles a priori; and hence the matter of the
juridical relation, which may be conventional, ought to be left out of
account, and only its form should be taken into consideration.
Such conceptions may be illustrated by taking the instance of money,
in contradistinction from all other exchangeable things as wares and
merchandise; or by the case of a book. And considering these as
illustrative examples in this connection, it will be shown that the
conception of money as the greatest and most useable of all the
means of human intercommunication through things, in the way of
purchase and sale in commerce, as well as that of books as the
greatest means of carrying on the interchange of thought, resolve
themselves into relations that are purely intellectual and rational.
And hence it will be made evident that such conceptions do not
really detract from the purity of the given scheme of pure rational
contracts, by empirical admixture.

Illustration of Relations of Contract by the
Conceptions of Money and a Book

I. What is Money?

Money is a thing which can only be made use of, by being alienated
or exchanged. This is a good nominal definition, as given by
Achenwall; and it is sufficient to distinguish objects of the will
of this kind from all other objects. But it gives us no information
regarding the rational possibility of such a thing as money is. Yet we
see thus much by the definition: (1) that the alienation in this
mode of human intercommunication and exchange is not viewed as a gift,
but is intended as a mode of reciprocal acquisition by an onerous
contract; and (2) that it is regarded as a mere means of carrying on
commerce, universally adopted by the people, but having no value as
such of itself, in contrast to other things as mercantile goods or
wares which have a particular value in relation to special wants
existing among the people. It therefore represents all exchangeable
A bushel of corn has the greatest direct value as a means of
satisfying human wants. Cattle may be fed by it; and these again are
subservient to our nourishment and locomotion, and they even labour in
our stead. Thus, by means of corn, men are multiplied and supported,
who not only act again in reproducing such natural products, but
also by other artificial products they can come to the relief of all
our proper wants. Thus are men enabled to build dwellings, to
prepare clothing, and to supply all the ingenious comforts and
enjoyments which make up the products of industry. On the other
hand, the value of money is only indirect. It cannot be itself
enjoyed, nor be used directly for enjoyment; it is, however, a means
towards this, and of all outward things it is of the highest utility.
We may found a real definition of money provisionally upon these
considerations. It may thus be defined as the universal means of
carrying on the industry of men in exchanging intercommunications with
each other. Hence national wealth, in so far as it can be acquired
by means of money, is properly only the sum of the industry or applied
labour with which men pay each other, and which is represented by
the money in circulation among the people.
The thing which is to be called money must, therefore, have cost
as much industry to produce it, or even to put it into the hands of
others, as may be equivalent to the industry or labour required for
the acquisition of the goods or wares or merchandise, as natural or
artificial products, for which it is exchanged. For if it were
easier to procure the material which is called money than the goods
that are required, there would be more money in the market than
goods to be sold; and because the seller would then have to expend
more labour upon his goods than the buyer on the equivalent, the money
coming in to him more rapidly, the labour applied to the preparation
of goods and industry generally, with the industrial productivity
which is the source of the public wealth, would at the same time
dwindle and be cut down. Hence bank notes and assignations are not
to be regarded as money, although they may take its place by way of
representing it for a time; because it costs almost no labour to
prepare them, and their value is based merely upon the opinion
prevailing as to the further continuance of the previous possibility
of changing them into ready money. But on its being in any way found
out that there is not ready money in sufficient quantity for easy
and safe conversion of such notes or assignations, the opinion gives
way, and a fall in their value becomes inevitable. Thus the industrial
labour of those who work the gold and silver mines in Peru and Mexico-
especially on account of the frequent failures in the application of
fruitless efforts to discover new veins of these precious metals- is
probably even greater than what is expended in the manufacture of
goods in Europe. Hence such mining labour, as unrewarded in the
circumstances, would be abandoned of itself, and the countries
mentioned would in consequence soon sink into poverty, did not the
industry of Europe, stimulated in turn by these very metals,
proportionally expand at the same time so as constantly to keep up the
zeal of the miners in their work by the articles of luxury thereby
offered to them. It is thus that the concurrence of industry with
industry, and of labour with labour, is always maintained.
But how is it possible that what at the beginning constituted only
goods or wares, at length became money? This has happened wherever a
sovereign as great and powerful consumer of a particular substance,
which he at first used merely for the adornment and decoration of
his servants and court, has enforced the tribute of his subjects in
this kind of material. Thus it may have been gold, or silver, or
copper, or a species of beautiful shells called cowries, or even a
sort of mat called makutes, as in Congo; or ingots of iron, as in
Senegal; or Negro slaves, as on the Guinea Coast. When the ruler of
the country demanded such things as imposts, those whose labour had to
be put in motion to procure them were also paid by means of them,
according to certain regulations of commerce then established, as in a
market or exchange. As it appears to me, it is only thus that a
particular species of goods came to be made a legal means of
carrying on the industrial labour of the subjects in their commerce
with each other, and thereby forming the medium of the national
wealth. And thus it practically became money.
The rational conception of money, under which the empirical
conception is embraced, is therefore that of a thing which, in the
course of the public permutation or exchange of possessions
(permutatio publica), determines the price of all the other things
that form products or goods- under which term even the sciences are
included, in so far as they are not taught gratis to others. The
quantity of it among a people constitutes their wealth (opulentia).
For price (pretium) is the public judgement about the value of a
thing, in relation to the proportionate abundance of what forms the
universal representative means in circulation for carrying on the
reciprocal interchange of the products of industry or labour.* The
precious metals, when they are not merely weighed but also stamped
or provided with a sign indicating how much they are worth, form legal
money, and are called coin.

*Hence where commerce is extensive neither gold nor copper is
specially used as money, but only as constituting wares; because there
is too little of the first and too much of the second for them to be
easily brought into circulation, so as at once to have the former in
such small pieces as are necessary in payment for particular goods and
not to have the latter in great quantity in case of the smallest
acquisitions. Hence silver- more or less alloyed with copper- is taken
as the proper material of money and the measure of the calculation
of all prices in the great commercial intercommunications of the
world; and the other metals- and still more non-metalic substances-
can only take its place in the case of a people of limited commerce.

According to Adam Smith: "Money has become, in all civilized
nations, the universal instrument of commerce, by the intervention
of which goods of all kinds are bought and sold or exchanged for one
another." This definition expands the empirical conception of money to
the rational idea of it, by taking regard only to the implied form
of the reciprocal performances in the onerous contracts, and thus
abstracting from their matter. It is thus conformable to the
conception of right in the permutation and exchange of the mine and
thine generally (commutatio late sic dicta). The definition,
therefore, accords with the representation in the above synopsis of
a dogmatic division of contracts a priori, and consequently with the
metaphysical principle of right in general.

II. What is a Book?

A book is a writing which contains a discourse addressed by some one
to the public, through visible signs of speech. It is a matter of
indifference to the present considerations whether it is written by
a pen or imprinted by types, and on few or many pages. He who speaks
to the public in his own name is the author. He who addresses the
writing to the public in the name of the author is the publisher. When
a publisher does this with the permission or authority of the
author, the act is in accordance with right, and he is the rightful
publisher; but if this is done without such permission or authority,
the act is contrary to right, and the publisher is a counterfeiter
or unlawful publisher. The whole of a set of copies of the original
document is called an edition.

The Unauthorized Publishing of Books is Contrary to the
Principles of Right, and is Rightly Prohibited.

A writing is not an immediate direct presentation of a conception,
as is the case, for instance, with an engraving that exhibits a
portrait, or a bust or cast by a sculptor. It is a discourse addressed
in a particular form to the public; and the author may be said to
speak publicly by means of his publisher. The publisher, again, speaks
by the aid of the printer as his workman (operarius), yet not in his
own name, for otherwise he would be the author, but in the name of the
author; and he is only entitled to do so in virtue of a mandate
given him to that effect by the author. Now the unauthorized printer
and publisher speaks by an assumed authority in his publication; in
the name indeed of the author, but without a mandate to that effect
(gerit se mandatarium absque mandato). Consequently such an
unauthorized publication is a wrong committed upon the authorized
and only lawful publisher, as it amounts to a pilfering of the profits
which the latter was entitled and able to draw from the use of his
proper right (furtum usus). Unauthorized printing and publication of
books is, therefore, forbidden- as an act of counterfeit and piracy-
on the ground of right.
There seems, however, to be an impression that there is a sort of
common right to print and publish books; but the slightest
reflection must convince any one that this would be a great injustice.
The reason of it is found simply in the fact that a book, regarded
from one point of view, is an external product of mechanical art (opus
mechanicum), that can be imitated by any one who may be in rightful
possession of a copy; and it is therefore his by a real right.
But, from another point of view, a book is not merely an external
thing, but is a discourse of the publisher to the public, and he is
only entitled to do this publicly under the mandate of the author
(praestatio operae); and this constitutes a personal right. The
error underlying the impression referred to, therefore, arises from an
interchange and confusion of these two kinds of right in relation to

Confusion of Personal Right and Real Right.

The confusion of personal right with real right may be likewise
shown by reference to a difference of view in connection with
another contract, falling under the head of contracts of hiring (B II.
I), namely, the contract of lease (jus incolatus). The question is
raised as to whether a proprietor when he has sold a house or a
piece of ground held on lease, before the expiry of the period of
lease, was bound to add the condition of the continuance of the
lease to the contract of purchase; or whether it should be held that
"purchase breaks hire," of course under reservation of a period of
warning determined by the nature of the subject in use. In the
former view, a house or farm would be regarded as having a burden
lying upon it, constituting a real right acquired in it by the lessee;
and this might well enough be carried out by a clause merely indorsing
or ingrossing the contract of lease in the deed of sale. But as it
would no longer then be a simple lease; another contract would
properly be required to be conjoined, a matter which few lessors would
be disposed to grant. The proposition, then, that "Purchase breaks
hire" holds in principle; for the full right in a thing as a
property overbears all personal right, which is inconsistent with
it. But there remains a right of action to the lessee, on the ground
of a personal right for indemnification on account of any loss arising
from breaking of the contract.

EPISODICAL SECTION. The Ideal Acquisition of External
Objects of the Will.
32. The Nature and Modes of Ideal Acquisition.

I call that mode of acquisition ideal which involves no causality in
time, and which is founded upon a mere idea of pure reason. It is
nevertheless actual, and not merely imaginary acquisition: and it is
not called real only because the act of acquisition is not
empirical. This character of the act arises from the peculiarity
that the person acquiring acquires from another who either is not yet,
and who can only be regarded as a possible being, or who is just
ceasing to be, or who no longer is. Hence such a mode of attaining
to possession is to be regarded as a mere practical idea of reason.
There are three modes of ideal acquisition:
I. Acquisition by usucapion;
II. Acquisition by inheritance or succession;
III. Acquisition by undying merit (meritum immortale), or the
claim by right to a good name at death.
These three modes of acquisition can, as a matter of fact, only have
effect in a public juridical state of existence, but they are not
founded merely upon the civil constitution or upon arbitrary statutes;
they are already contained a priori in the conception of the state
of nature, and are thus necessarily conceivable prior to their
empirical manifestation. The laws regarding them in the civil
constitution ought to be regulated by that rational conception.

33. I. Acquisition by Usucapion.
(Acquisitio per Usucapionem).

I may acquire the property of another merely by long possession
and use of it (usucapio). Such property is not acquired, because I may
legitimately presume that his consent is given to this effect (per
consensum praesumptum); nor because I can assume that, as he does
not oppose my acquisition of it, he has relinquished or abandoned it
as his (rem derelictam). But I acquire it thus because, even if
there were any one actually raising a claim to this property as its
true owner, I may exclude him on the ground of my long possession of
it, ignore his previous existence, and proceed as if he existed during
the time of my possession as a mere abstraction, although I may have
been subsequently apprized of his reality as well as of his claim.
This mode of acquisition is not quite correctly designated acquisition
by prescription (per praescriptionem); for the exclusion of all
other claimants is to be regarded as only the consequence of the
usucapion; and the process of acquisition must have gone before the
right of exclusion. The rational possibility of such a mode of
acquisition has now to be proved.
Any one who does not exercise a continuous possessory activity
(actus possessorius) in relation to a thing as his is regarded with
good right as one who does not at all exist as its possessor. For he
cannot complain of lesion so long as he does not qualify himself
with a title as its possessor. And even if he should afterwards lay
claim to the thing when another has already taken possession of it, he
only says he was once on a time owner of it, but not that he is so
still, or that his possession has continued without interruption as
a juridical fact. It can, therefore, only be a juridical process of
possession, that has been maintained without interruption and is
proveable by documentary fact, that any one can secure for himself
what is his own after ceasing for a long time to make use of it.
For, suppose that the neglect to exercise this possessory activity
had not the effect of enabling another to found upon his hitherto
lawful, undisputed and bona fide possession, and irrefragable right to
continue in its possession so that he may regard the thing that is
thus in his possession as acquired by him. Then no acquisition would
ever become peremptory and secured, but all acquisition would only
be provisory and temporary. This is evident on the ground that there
are no historical records available to carry the investigation of a
title back to the first possessor and his act of acquisition. The
presumption upon which acquisition by usucapion is founded is,
therefore, not merely its conformity to right as allowed and just, but
also the presumption of its being right (praesumtio juris et de jure),
and its being assumed to be in accordance with compulsory laws
(suppositio legalis). Anyone who has neglected to embody his
possessory act in a documentary title has lost his claim to the
right of being possessor for the time; and the length of the period of
his neglecting to do so- which need not necessarily be particularly
defined- can be referred to only as establishing the certainty of this
neglect. And it would contradict the postulate of the juridically
practical reason to maintain that one hitherto unknown as a possessor,
and whose possessory activity has at least been interrupted, whether
by or without fault of his own, could always at any time re-acquire
a property; for this would be to make all ownership uncertain (dominia
rerum incerta facere).
But if he is a member of the commonwealth or civil union, the
state may maintain his possession for him vicariously, although it may
be interrupted as private possession; and in that case the actual
possessor will not be able to prove a title of acquisition even from a
first occupation, nor to found upon a title of usucapion. But, in
the state of nature, usucapion is universally a rightful ground of
holding, not properly as a juridical mode of requiring a thing, but as
a ground for maintaining oneself in possession of it where there are
no juridical acts. A release from juridical claims is commonly also
called acquisition. The prescriptive title of the older possessor,
therefore, belongs to the sphere of natural right (est juris naturae).

34. II. Acquisition by Inheritance.
(Acquisitio haereditatis).

Inheritance is constituted by the transfer (translatio) of the
property or goods of one who is dying to a survivor, through the
consent of the will of both. The acquisition of the heir who takes the
estate (haeredis instituti) and the relinquishment of the testator who
leaves it, being the acts that constitute the exchange of the mine and
thine, take place in the same moment of time- in articulo mortis-
and just when the testator ceases to be. There is therefore no special
act of transfer (translatio) in the empirical sense; for that would
involve two successive acts, by which the one would first divest
himself of his possession, and the other would thereupon enter into
it. Inheritance as constituted by a simultaneous double act is,
therefore, an ideal mode of acquisition. Inheritance is
inconceivable in the state of nature without a testamentary
disposition (dispositio ultimae voluntatis); and the question arises
as to whether this mode of acquisition is to be regarded as a contract
of succession, or a unilateral act instituting an heir by a will
(testamentum). The determination of this question depends on the
further question, whether and how, in the very same moment in which
one individual ceases to be, there can be a transition of his property
to another person. Hence the problem, as to how a mode of
acquisition by inheritance is possible, must be investigated
independently of the various possible forms in which it is practically
carried out, and which can have place only in a commonwealth.
"It is possible to acquire by being instituted or appointed heir
in a testamentary disposition." For the testator Caius promises and
declares in his last will to Titius, who knows nothing of this
promise, to transfer to him his estate in case of death, but thus
continuing as long as he lives sole owner of it. Now by a mere
unilateral act of will, nothing can in fact be transmitted to
another person, as in addition to the promise of the one party there
is required acceptance (acceptatio) on the part of the other, and a
simultaneous bilateral act of will (voluntas simultanea) which,
however, is here awanting. So long as Caius lives, Titius cannot
expressly accept in order to enter on acquisition, because Caius has
only promised in case of death; otherwise the property would be for
a moment at least in common possession, which is not the will of the
testator. However, Titius acquires tacitly a special right to the
inheritance as a real right. This is constituted by the sole and
exclusive right to accept the estate (jus in re jacente), which is
therefore called at that point of time a haereditas jacens. Now as
every man- because he must always gain and never lose by it-
necessarily, although tacitly, accepts such a right, and as Titius
after the death of Caius is in this position, he may acquire the
succession as heir by acceptance of the promise. And the estate is not
in the meantime entirely without an owner (res nullius), but is only
in abeyance or vacant (vacua); because he has exclusively the right of
choice as to whether he will actually make the estate bequeathed to
him his own or not.
Hence testaments are valid according to mere natural right (sunt
juris naturae). This assertion however, is to be understood in the
sense that they are capable and worthy of being introduced and
sanctioned in the civil state, whenever it is instituted. For it is
only the common will in the civil state that maintains the
possession of the inheritance or succession, while it hangs between
acceptance or rejection and specially belongs to no particular

35. III. The Continuing Right of a Good Name
after Death. (Bona fama Defuncti).

It would be absurd to think that a dead person could possess
anything after his death, when he no longer exists in the eye of the
law, if the matter in question were a mere thing. But a good name is a
congenital and external, although merely ideal, possession, which
attaches inseparably to the individual as a person. Now we can and
must abstract here from all consideration as to whether the persons
cease to be after death or still continue as such to exist; because,
in considering their juridical relation to others, we regard persons
merely according to their humanity and as rational beings (homo
noumenon). Hence any attempt to bring the reputation or good name of a
person into evil and false repute after death, is always questionable,
even although a well-founded charge may be allowed- for to that extent
the brocard "De mortuis nil nisi bene"* is wrong. Yet to spread
charges against one who is absent and cannot defend himself, shows
at least a want of magnanimity.

*[Let nothing be said of the dead but what is favourable.]

By a blameless life and a death that worthily ends it, nothing
ends it, it is admitted that a man may acquire a (negatively) good
reputation constituting something that is his own, even when he no
longer exists in the world of sense as a visible person (homo
phaenomenon). It is further held that his survivors and successors-
whether relatives or strangers- are entitled to defend his good name
as a matter of right, on the ground that unproved accusations
subject them all to the danger of similar treatment after death. Now
that a man when dead can yet acquire such a right is a peculiar and,
nevertheless, an undeniable manifestation in fact, of the a priori
law-giving reason thus extending its law of command or prohibition
beyond the limits of the present life. If some one then spreads a
charge regarding a dead person that would have dishonoured him when
living, or even made him despicable, any one who can adduce a proof
that this accusation is intentionally false and untrue may publicly
declare him who thus brings the dead person into ill repute to be a
calumniator, and affix dishonour to him in turn. This would not be
allowable unless it were legitimate to assume that the dead person was
injured by the accusation, although he is dead, and that a certain
just satisfaction was done to him by an apology, although he no longer
sensibly exists. A title to act the part the vindicator of the dead
person does not require to be established; for every one necessarily
claims this of himself, not merely as a duty of virtue regarded
ethically, but as a right belonging to him in virtue of his
humanity. Nor does the vindicator require to show any special personal
damage, accruing to him as a friend or relative, from a stain on the
character of the deceased, to justify him in proceeding to censure it.
That such a form of ideal acquisition, and even a right in an
individual after death against survivors, is thus actually founded,
cannot, therefore, be disputed, although the possibility of such a
right is not capable of logical deduction.

There is no ground for drawing visionary inferences from what has
just been stated, to the presentiment of a future life and invisible
relations to departed souls. For the considerations connected with
this right turn on nothing more than the purely moral and juridical
relation which subsists among men, even in the present life, as
rational beings. Abstraction is, however, made from all that belongs
physically to their existence in space and time; that is, men are
considered logically apart from these physical concomitants of their
nature, not as to their state when actually deprived of them, but only
in so far as being spirits they are in a condition that might
realize the injury done them by calumniators. Any one who may
falsely say something against me a hundred years hence injures me even
now. For in the pure juridical relation, which is entirely rational
and surprasensible, abstraction is made from the physical conditions
of time, and the calumniator is as culpable as if he had committed the
offence in my lifetime; only this will not be tried by a criminal
process, but he will only be punished with that loss of honour he
would have caused to another, and this is inflicted upon him by public
opinion according to the lex talionis. Even a plagiarism from a dead
author, although it does not tarnish the honour of the deceased, but
only deprives him of a part of his property, is yet properly
regarded as a lesion of his human right.
The System of those Laws Which Require No External Promulgation.
CHAPTER III. Acquisition Conditioned by the Sentence of
a Public Judicatory.

36. How and What Acquisition is Subjectively Conditioned
by the Principle of a Public Court.

Natural right, understood simply as that right which is not
statutory, and which is knowable purely a priori, by every man's
reason, will include distributive justice as well as commutative
justice. It is manifest that the latter, as constituting the justice
that is valid between persons in their reciprocal relations of
intercourse with one another, must belong to natural right. But this
holds also of distributive justice, in so far as it can be known a
priori; and decisions or sentences regarding it must be regulated by
the law of natural right.
The moral person who presides in the sphere of justice and
administers it is called the Court of justice, and, as engaged in
the process of official duty, the judicatory; the sentence delivered
in a case, is the judgement (judicium). All this is to be here
viewed a priori, according to the rational conditions of right,
without taking into consideration how such a constitution is to be
actually established or organized, for which particular statutes,
and consequently empirical principles, are requisite.
The question, then, in this connection, is not merely "What is right
in itself?" in the sense in which every man must determine it by the
judgement of reason; but "What is right as applied to this case?" that
is, "What is right and just as viewed by a court?" The rational and
the judicial points of view are therefore to be distinguished; and
there are four cases in which the two forms of judgement have a
different and opposite issue. And yet they may co-exist with each
other, because they are delivered from two different, yet respectively
true, points of view: the one from regard to private right, the
other from the idea of public right. They are: I. The contract of
donation (pactum donationis); II. The contract of loan (commodatum);
III. The action of real revindication (vindicatio); and IV.
Guarantee by oath (juramentum).

It is a common error on the part of the jurist to fall here into the
fallacy of begging the question by a tacit assumption (vitium
subreptionis). This is done by assuming as objective and absolute
the juridical principle which a public court of justice is entitled
and even bound to adopt in its own behoof, and only from the
subjective purpose of qualifying itself to decide and judge upon all
the rights pertaining to individuals. It is therefore of no small
importance to make this specific difference intelligible, and to
draw attention to it.

37. I. The Contract of Donation.
(Pactum Donationis).

The contract of donation signifies the gratuitous alienation
(gratis) of a thing or right that is mine. It involves a relation
between me as the donor (donans), and another person as the donatory
(donatarius), in accordance with the principle of private right, by
which what is mine is transferred to the latter, on his acceptance
of it, as a gift (donum). However, it is not to be presumed that I
have voluntarily bound myself thereby so as to be compelled to keep my
promise, and that I have thus given away my freedom gratuitously, and,
as it were, to that extent thrown myself away. Nemo suum jactare
praesumitur. But this is what would happen, under such
circumstances, according to the principle of right in the civil state;
for in this sphere the donatory can compel me, under certain
conditions, to perform my promise. If, then, the case comes before a
court, according to the conditions of public right, it must either
be presumed that the donor has consented to such compulsion, or the
court would give no regard, in the sentence, to the consideration as
to whether he intended to reserve the right to resile from his promise
or not; but would only refer to what is certain, namely, the condition
of the promise and the acceptance of the donatory. Although the
promiser, therefore, thought- as may easily be supposed- that he could
not be bound by his promise in any case, if he "rued" it before it was
actually carried out, yet the court assumes that he ought expressly to
have reserved this condition if such was his mind; and if he did not
make such an express reservation, it will be held that he can be
compelled to implement his promise. And this principle is assumed by
the court, because the administration of justice would otherwise be
endlessly impeded, or even made entirely impossible.

38. II. The Contract of Loan. (Commodatum).

In the contract of commodate-loan (commodatum) I give some one the
gratuitous use of something that is mine. If it is a thing that is
given on loan, the contracting parties agree that the borrower will
restore the very same thing to the power of the lender, But the
receiver of the loan (commodatarius) cannot, at the same time,
assume that the owner of the thing lent (commodans) will take upon
himself all risk (casus) of any possible loss of it, or of its
useful quality, that may arise from having given it into the
possession of the receiver. For it is not to be understood of itself
that the owner, besides the use of the thing, which he has granted
to the receiver, and the detriment that is inseparable from such
use, also gives a guarantee or warrandice against all damage that
may arise from such use. On the contrary, a special accessory contract
would have to be entered into for this purpose. The only question,
then, that can be raised is this: "Is it incumbent on the lender or
the borrower to add expressly the condition of undertaking the risk
that may accrue to the thing lent; or, if this is not done, which of
the parties is to be presumed to have consented and agreed to
guarantee the property of the lender, up to restoration of the very
same thing or its equivalent?" Certainly not the lender; because it
cannot be presumed that he has gratuitously agreed to give more than
the mere use of the thing, so that he cannot be supposed to have
also undertaken the risk of loss of his property. But this may be
assumed on the side of the borrower; because he thereby undertakes and
performs nothing more than what is implied in the contract.
For example, I enter a house, when overtaken by a shower of rain,
and ask the loan of a cloak. But through accidental contact with
colouring matter, it becomes entirely spoiled while in my
possession; or on entering another house, I lay it aside and it is
stolen. Under such circumstances, everybody would think it absurd
for me to assert that I had no further concern with the cloak but to
return it as it was, or, in the latter case, only to mention the
fact of the theft; and that, in any case, anything more required would
be but an act of courtesy in expressing sympathy with the owner on
account of his loss, seeing he can claim nothing on the ground of
right. It would be otherwise, however, if, on asking the use of an
article, I discharged myself beforehand from all responsibility, in
case of its coming to grief while in my hands, on the ground of my
being poor and unable to compensate any incidental loss. No one
could find such a condition superfluous or ludicrous, unless the
borrower were, in fact, known to be a well-to-do and well-disposed
man; because in such a case it would almost be an insult not to act on
the presumption of generous compensation for any loss sustained.

Now by the very nature of this contract, the possible damage (casus)
which the thing lent may undergo cannot be exactly determined in any
agreement. Commodate is therefore an uncertain contract (pactum
incertum), because the consent can only be so far presumed. The
judgement, in any case, deciding upon whom the incidence of any loss
must fall, cannot therefore be determined from the conditions of the
contract in itself, but only by the principle of the court before
which it comes, and which can only consider what is certain in the
contract; and the only thing certain is always the fact as to the
possession of the thing as property. Hence the judgement passed in the
state of nature will be different from that given by a court of
justice in the civil state. The judgement from the standpoint of
natural right will be determined by regard to the inner rational
quality of the thing, and will run thus: "Loss arising from damage
accruing to a thing lent falls upon the borrower" (casum sentit
commodatarius); whereas the sentence of a court of justice in the
civil state will run thus: "The loss falls upon the lender" (casum
sentit dominus). The latter judgement turns out differently from the
former as the sentence of the mere sound reason, because a public
judge cannot found upon presumptions as to what either party may
have thought; and thus the one who has not obtained release from all
loss in the thing, by a special accessory contract, must bear the
loss. Hence the difference between the judgement as the court must
deliver it and the form in which each individual is entitled to hold
it for himself, by his private reason, is a matter of importance,
and is not to be overlooked in the consideration of juridical

39. III. The Revindication of what has been Lost.

It is clear from what has been already said that a thing of mine
which continues to exist remains mine, although I may not be in
continuous occupation of it; and that it does not cease to be mine
without a juridical act of dereliction or alienation. Further, it is
evident that a right in this thing (jus reale) belongs in
consequence to me (jus personale), against every holder of it, and not
merely against some particular person. But the question now arises
as to whether this right must be regarded by every other person as a
continuous right of property per se, if I have not in any way
renounced it, although the thing is in the possession of another.
A thing may be lost (res amissa) and thus come into other hands in
an honourable bona fide way as a supposed "find"; or it may come to me
by formal transfer on the part of one who is in possession of it,
and who professes to be its owner, although he is not so. Taking the
latter case, the question arises whether, since I cannot acquire a
thing from one who is not its owner (a non domino), I am excluded by
the fact from all right in the thing itself, and have merely a
personal right against a wrongful possessor? This is manifestly so, if
the acquisition is judged purely according to its inner justifying
grounds and viewed according to the state of nature, and not according
to the convenience of a court of justice.
For everything alienable must be capable of being acquired by
anyone. The rightfulness of acquisition, however, rests entirely
upon the form in accordance with which what is in possession of
another, is transferred to me and accepted by me. In other words,
rightful acquisition depends upon the formality of the juridical act
of commutation or interchange between the possessor of the thing and
the acquirer of it, without its being required to ask how the former
came by it; because this would itself be an injury, on the ground
that: Quilibet praesumitur bonus. Now suppose it turned out that the
said possessor was not the real owner, I cannot admit that the real
owner is entitled to hold me directly responsible, or so entitled with
regard to any one who might be holding the thing. For I have myself
taken nothing away from him, when, for example, I bought his horse
according to the law (titulo empti venditi) when it was offered for
sale in the public market. The title of acquisition is therefore
unimpeachable on my side; and as buyer I am not bound, nor even have I
the right, to investigate the title of the seller; for this process of
investigation would have to go on in an ascending series ad infinitum.
Hence on such grounds I ought to be regarded, in virtue of a regular
and formal purchase, as not merely the putative, but the real owner of
the horse.
But against this position, there immediately start up the
following juridical principles. Any acquisition derived from one who
is not the owner of the thing in question is null and void. I cannot
derive from another anything more than what he himself rightfully has;
and although as regards the form of the acquisition the modus
acquirendi- I may proceed in accordance with all the conditions of
right when I deal in a stolen horse exposed for sale in the market,
yet a real title warranting the acquisition was awanting; for the
horse was not really the property of the seller in question. However I
may be a bona fide possessor of a thing under such conditions, I am
still only a putative owner, and the real owner has the right of
vindication against me (rem suam vindicandi).
Now, it may be again asked, what is right and just in itself
regarding the acquisition of external things among men in their
intercourse with one another- viewed in the state of nature
according to the principles of commutative justice? And it must be
admitted in this connection that whoever has a purpose of acquiring
anything must regard it as absolutely necessary to investigate whether
the thing which he wishes to acquire does not already belong to
another person. For although he may carefully observe the formal
conditions required for appropriating what may belong to the
property of another, as in buying a horse according to the usual terms
in a market, yet he can, at the most, acquire only a personal right in
relation to a thing (jus ad rem) so long as it is still unknown to him
whether another than the seller may not be the real owner. Hence, if
some other person were to come forward and prove by documentary
evidence a prior right of property in the thing, nothing would
remain for the putative new owner but the advantage which he has drawn
as a bona fide possessor of it up to that moment. Now it is frequently
impossible to discover the absolutely first original owner of a
thing in the series of putative owners, who derive their right from
one another. Hence no mere exchange of external things, however well
it may agree with the formal conditions of commutative justice, can
ever guarantee an absolutely certain acquisition.

Here, however, the juridically law-giving reason comes in again with
the principle of distributive justice; and it adopts as a criterion of
the rightfulness of possession, not what is in itself in reference
to the private will of each individual in the state of nature, but
only the consideration of how it would be adjudged by a court of
justice in a civil state, constituted by the united will of all. In
this connection, fulfillment of the formal conditions of
acquisition, that in themselves only establish a personal right, is
postulated as sufficient; and they stand as an equivalent for the
material conditions which properly establish the derivation of
property from a prior putative owner, to the extent of making what
is in itself only a personal right, valid before a court, as a real
right. Thus the horse which I bought when exposed for sale in the
public market, under conditions regulated by the municipal law,
becomes my property if all the conditions of purchase and sale have
been exactly observed in the transaction; but always under the
reservation that the real owner continues to have the right of a claim
against the seller, on the ground of his prior unalienated possession.
My otherwise personal right is thus transmuted into a real right,
according to which I may take and vindicate the object as mine
wherever I may find it, without being responsible for the way in which
the Seller had come into possession of it.
It is therefore only in behoof of the requirements of juridical
decision in a court (in favorem justitae distributivae) that the right
in respect of a thing is regarded, not as personal, which it is in
itself, but as real, because it can thus be most easily and
certainly adjudged; and it is thus accepted and dealt with according
to a pure principle a priori. Upon this principle, various statutory
laws come to be founded which specially aim at laying down the
conditions under which alone a mode of acquisition shall be
legitimate, so that the judge may be able to assign every one his
own as easily and certainly as possible. Thus, in the brocard,
"Purchase breaks hire," what by the nature of the subject is a real
right- namely the hire- is taken to hold as a merely personal right;
and, conversely, as in the case referred to above, what is in itself
merely a personal right is held to be valid as a real right. And
this is done only when the question arises as to the principles by
which a court of justice in the civil state is to be guided, in
order to proceed with all possible safety in delivering judgement on
the rights of individuals.

40. IV. Acquisition of Security by the Taking of an Oath.
(Cautio Juratoria).

Only one ground can be assigned on which it could be held that men
are bound in the juridical relation to believe and to confess that
there are gods, or that there is a God. It is that they may be able to
swear an oath; and that thus by the fear of an all-seeing Supreme
Power, whose revenge they must solemnly invoke upon themselves in case
their utterance should be false, they may be constrained to be
truthful in statement and faithful in promising. It is not morality
but merely blind superstition that is reckoned upon in this process;
for it is evident it implies that no certainty is to be expected
from a mere solemn declaration in matters of right before a court,
although the duty of truthfulness must have always appeared
self-evident to all, in a matter which concerns the holiest that can
be among men- namely, the right of man. Hence recourse has been had to
a motive founded on mere myths and fables as imaginary guarantees.
Thus among the Rejangs, a heathen people in Sumatra, it is the custom-
according to the testimony of Marsden- to swear by the bones of
their dead relatives, although they have no belief in a life after
death. In like manner the negroes of Guinea swear by their fetish, a
bird's feather, which they imprecate under the belief that it will
break their neck. And so in other cases. The belief underlying these
oaths is that an invisible power- whether it has understanding or not-
by its very nature possesses magical power that can be put into action
by such invocations. Such a belief- which is commonly called religion,
but which ought to be called superstition- is, however,
indispensable for the administration of justice; because, without
referring to it, a court of justice would not have adequate means to
ascertain facts otherwise kept secret, and to determine rights. A
law making an oath obligatory is therefore only given in behoof of the
judicial authority.
But then the question arises as to what the obligation could be
founded upon that would bind any one in a court of justice to accept
the oath of another person as a right and valid proof of the truth
of his statements which are to put an end to all dispute. In other
words, what obliges me juridically to believe that another person when
taking an oath has any religion at all, so that I should subordinate
or entrust my right to his oath? And, on like grounds, conversely, can
I be bound at all to take an oath? It is evident that both these
questions point to what is in itself morally wrong.
But in relation to a court of justice- and generally in the civil
state- if it be assumed there are no other means of getting to the
truth in certain cases than by an oath, it must be adopted. In
regard to religion, under the supposition that every one has it, it
may be utilized as a necessary means (in causu necessitatis), in
behoof of the legitimate procedure of a court of justice. The court
uses this form of spiritual compulsion (tortura spiritualis) as an
available means, in conformity with the superstitious propensity of
mankind, for the ascertainment of what is concealed; and therefore
holds itself justified in so doing. The legislative power, however, is
fundamentally wrong in assigning this authority to the judicial power,
because even in the civil state any compulsion with regard to the
taking of oaths is contrary to the inalienable freedom of man.

Official oaths, which are usually promissory, being taken on
entering upon an office, to the effect that the individual has sincere
intention to administer his functions dutifully, might well be changed
into assertory oaths, to be taken at the end of a year or more of
actual administration, the official swearing to the faithfulness of
his discharge of duty during that time. This would bring the
conscience more into action than the promissory oath, which always
gives room for the internal pretext that, with the best intention, the
difficulties that arose during the administration of the official
function were not foreseen. And, further, violations of duty, under
the prospect of their being summed up by future censors, would give
rise to more anxiety as to censure than when they are merely
represented, one after the other, and forgotten.
As regards an oath taken concerning a matter of belief (de
credulitate), it is evident that no such oath can be demanded by a
court. 1. For, first, it contains in itself a contradiction. Such
belief, as intermediate between opinion and knowledge, is a thing on
which one might venture to lay a wager but not to swear an oath. 2.
And, second, the judge who imposes an oath of belief, in order to
ascertain anything pertinent to his own purpose or even to the
common good, commits a great offence against the conscientiousness
of the party taking such an oath. This he does in regard both to the
levity of mind, which he thereby helps to engender, and to the
stings of conscience which a man must feel who to-day regards a
subject from a certain point of view, but who will very probably
to-morrow find it quite improbable from another point of view. Any
one, therefore, who is compelled to take such an oath, is subjected to
an injury.

Transition from the Mine and Thine in the State
of Nature to the Mine and Thine in the
Juridical State Generally.

41. Public Justice as Related to the Natural
and the Civil State.

The juridical state is that relation of men to one another which
contains the conditions under which it is alone possible for every one
to obtain the right that is his due. The formal principle of the
possibility of actually participating in such right, viewed in
accordance with the idea of a universally legislative will, is
public justice. Public justice may be considered in relation either to
the possibility, or actuality, or necessity of the possession of
objects- regarded as the matter of the activity of the will- according
to laws. It may thus be divided into protective justice (justitia
testatrix), commutative justice (justitia commutativa), and
distributive justice (justitia distributiva), in the first mode of
justice, the law declares merely what relation is internally right
in respect of form (lex justi); in the second, it declares what is
likewise externally in accord with a law in respect of the object, and
what possession is rightful (lex juridica); and in the third, it
declares what is right, and what is just, and to what extent, by the
judgement of a court in any particular case coming under the given
law. In this latter relation, the public court is called the justice
of the country; and the question whether there actually is or is not
such an administration of public justice may be regarded as the most
important of all juridical interests.
The non-juridical state is that condition of society in which
there is no distributive justice. It is commonly called the natural
state (status naturalis), or the state of nature. It is not the social
state, as Achenwall puts it, for this may be in itself an artificial
state (status artificialis), that is to be contradistinguished from
the "natural" state. The opposite of the state of nature is the
civil state (status civilis) as the condition of a society standing
under a distributive justice. In the state of nature, there may even
be juridical forms of society such as marriage, parental authority,
the household, and such like. For none of these, however, does any law
a priori lay it down as an incumbent obligation: "Thou shalt enter
into this state." But it may be said of the juridical state that: "All
men who may even involuntarily come into relations of right with one
another ought to enter into this state."
The natural or non-juridical social state may be viewed as the
sphere of private right, and the civil state may be specially regarded
as the sphere of public right. The latter state contains no more and
no other duties of men towards each other than what may be conceived
in connection with the former state; the matter of private right is,
in short, the very same in both. The laws of the civil state,
therefore, only turn upon the juridical form of the coexistence of men
under a common constitution; and, in this respect, these laws must
necessarily be regarded and conceived as public laws.
The civil union (unio civilis) cannot, in the strict sense, be
properly called a society; for there is no sociality in common between
the ruler (imperans) and the subject (subditus) under a civil
constitution. They are not co-ordinated as associates in a society
with each other, but the one is subordinated to the other. Those who
may be co-ordinated with one another must consider themselves as
mutually equal, in so far as they stand under common laws. The civil
union may therefore be regarded not so much as being, but rather as
making a society.

42. The Postulate of Public Right.

From the conditions of private right in the natural state, there
arises the postulate of public right. It may be thus expressed: "In
the relation of unavoidable coexistence with others, thou shalt pass
from the state of nature into a juridical union constituted under
the condition of a distributive justice." The principle of this
postulate may be unfolded analytically from the conception of right in
the external relation, contradistinguished from mere might as
No one is under obligation to abstain from interfering with the
possession of others, unless they give him a reciprocal guarantee
for the observance of a similar abstention from interference with
his possession. Nor does he require to wait for proof by experience of
the need of this guarantee, in view of the antagonistic disposition of
others. He is therefore under no obligation to wait till he acquires
practical prudence at his own cost; for he can perceive in himself
evidence of the natural inclination of men to play the master over
others, and to disregard the claims of the right of others, when
they feel themselves their superiors by might or fraud. And thus it is
not necessary to wait for the melancholy experience of actual
hostility; the individual is from the first entitled to exercise a
rightful compulsion towards those who already threaten him by their
very nature. Quilibet praesumitur malus, donec securitatem dederit
So long as the intention to live and continue in this state of
externally lawless freedom prevails, men may be said to do no wrong or
injustice at all to one another, even when they wage war against
each other. For what seems competent as good for the one is equally
valid for the other, as if it were so by mutual agreement. Uti
partes de jure suo disponunt, ita jus est. But generally they must
be considered as being in the highest state of wrong, as being and
willing to be in a condition which is not juridical, and in which,
therefore, no one can be secured against violence, in the possession
of his own.

The distinction between what is only formally and what is also
materially wrong, and unjust, finds frequent application in the
science of right. An enemy who, on occupying a besieged fortress,
instead of honourably fulfilling the conditions of a capitulation,
maltreats the garrison on marching out, or otherwise violates the
agreement, cannot complain of injury or wrong if on another occasion
the same treatment is inflicted upon themselves. But, in fact, all
such actions fundamentally involve the commission of wrong and
injustice, in the highest degree; because they take all validity
away from the conception of right, and give up everything, as it
were by law itself, to savage violence, and thus overthrow the
rights of men generally.

43. Definition and Division of Public Right.

Public right embraces the whole of the laws that require to be
universally promulgated in order to produce juridical state of
society. It is therefore a system of those laws that are requisite for
a people as a multitude of men forming a nation, or for a number of
nations, in their relations to each other. Men and nations, on account
of their mutual influence on one another, require a juridical
constitution uniting them under one will, in order that they may
participate in what is right. This relation of the individuals of a
nation to each other constitutes the civil union in the social
state; and, viewed as a whole in relation to its constituent
members, it forms the political state (civitas).
1. The state, as constituted by the common interest of all to live
in a juridical union, is called, in view of its form, the commonwealth
or the republic in the wider sense of the term (res publica latius sic
dicta). The principles of right in this sphere thus constitute the
first department of public right as the right of the state (jus
civitatis) or national right. 2. The state, again, viewed in
relation to other peoples, is called a power (potentia), whence arises
the idea of potentates. Viewed in relation to the supposed
hereditary unity of the people composing it, the state constitutes a
nation (gens). Under the general conception of public right, in
addition to the right of the individual state, there thus arises
another department of right, constituting the right of nations (jus
gentium) or international right. 3. Further, as the surface of the
earth is not unlimited in extent, but is circumscribed into a unity,
national right and international right necessarily culminate in the
idea of a universal right of mankind, which may be called
Cosmopolitical Right (jus cosmopoliticum). And national,
international, and cosmopolitical right are so interconnected, that,
if any one of these three possible forms of the juridical relation
fails to embody the essential principles that ought to regulate
external freedom by law, the structure of legislation reared by the
others will also be undermined, and the whole system would at last
fall to pieces.

I. Right of the State and Constitutional Law.
(Jus Civitatis).

44. Origin Of the Civil Union and Public Right.

It is not from any experience prior to the appearance of an external
authoritative legislation that we learn of the maxim of natural
violence among men and their evil tendency to engage in war with
each other. Nor is it assumed here that it is merely some particular
historical condition or fact, that makes public legislative constraint
necessary; for however well-disposed or favourable to right men may be
considered to be of themselves, the rational idea of a state of
society not yet regulated by right, must be taken as our
starting-point. This idea implies that before a legal state of society
can be publicly established, individual men, nations, and states,
can never be safe against violence from each other; and this is
evident from the consideration that every one of his own will
naturally does what seems good and right in his own eyes, entirely
independent of the opinion of others. Hence, unless the institution of
right is to be renounced, the first thing incumbent on men is to
accept the principle that it is necessary to leave the state of
nature, in which every one follows his own inclinations, and to form a
union of all those who cannot avoid coming into reciprocal
communication, and thus subject themselves in common to the external
restraint of public compulsory laws. Men thus enter into a civil
union, in which every one has it determined by law what shall be
recognized as his; and this is secured to him by a competent
external power distinct from his own individuality. Such is the
primary obligation, on the part of all men, to enter into the
relations of a civil state of society.
The natural condition of mankind need not, on this ground, be
represented as a state of absolute injustice, as if there could have
been no other relation originally among men but what was merely
determined by force. But this natural condition must be regarded, if
it ever existed, as a state of society that was void of regulation
by right (status justitiae vacuus), so that if a matter of right
came to be in dispute (jus controversum), no competent judge was found
to give an authorized legal decision upon it. It is therefore
reasonable that any one should constrain another by force, to pass
from such a nonjuridical state of life and enter within the
jurisdiction of a civil state of society. For, although on the basis
of the ideas of right held by individuals as such, external things may
be acquired by occupancy or contract, yet such acquisition is only
provisory so long as it has not yet obtained the sanction of a
public law. Till this sanction is reached, the condition of possession
is not determined by any public distributive justice, nor is it
secured by any power exercising public right.

If men were not disposed to recognize any acquisition at all as
rightful- even in a provisional way- prior to entering into the
civil state, this state of society would itself be impossible. For the
laws regarding the mine and thine in the state of nature, contain
formally the very same thing as they prescribe in the civil state,
when it is viewed merely according to rational conceptions: only
that in the forms of the civil state the conditions are laid down
under which the formal prescriptions of the state of nature attain
realization conformable to distributive justice. Were there, then, not
even provisionally, an external meum and tuum in the state of
nature, neither would there be any juridical duties in relation to
them; and, consequently, there would be no obligation to pass out of
that state into another.

45. The Form of the State and its Three Powers.

A state (civitas) is the union of a number of men under juridical
laws. These laws, as such, are to be regarded as necessary a priori-
that is, as following of themselves from the conceptions of external
right generally- and not as merely established by statute. The form of
the state is thus involved in the idea of the state, viewed as it
ought to be according to pure principles of right; and this ideal form
furnishes the normal criterion of every real union that constitutes
a commonwealth.
Every state contains in itself three powers, the universal united
will of the people being thus personified in a political triad.
These are the legislative power, the executive power, and the
judiciary power. 1. The legislative power of the sovereignty in the
state is embodied in the person of the lawgiver; 2. the executive
power is embodied in the person of the ruler who administers the
Law; and 3. the judiciary power, embodied in the person of the
judge, is the function of assigning every one what is his own,
according to the law (potestas legislatoria, rectoria, et judiciaria).
These three powers may be compared to the three propositions in a
practical syllogism: the major as the sumption laying down the
universal law of a will, the minor presenting the command applicable
to an action according to the law as the principle of the subsumption,
and the conclusion containing the sentence, or judgement of right,
in the particular case under consideration.

46. The Legislative Power and the Members of the State.

The legislative power, viewed in its rational principle, can only
belong to the united will of the people. For, as all right ought to
proceed from this power, it is necessary that its laws should be
unable to do wrong to any one whatever. Now, if any one individual
determines anything in the state in contradistinction to another, it
is always possible that he may perpetrate a wrong on that other; but
this is never possible when all determine and decree what is to be Law
to themselves. Volenti non fit injuria. Hence it is only the united
and consenting will of all the people- in so far as each of them
determines the same thing about all, and all determine the same
thing about each- that ought to have the power of enacting law in
the state.
The members of a civil society thus united for the purpose of
legislation, and thereby constituting a state, are called its
citizens; and there are three juridical attributes that inseparably
belong to them by right. These are: 1. constitutional freedom, as
the right of every citizen to have to obey no other law than that to
which he has given his consent or approval; 2. civil equality, as
the right of the citizen to recognise no one as a superior among the
people in relation to himself, except in so far as such a one is as
subject to his moral power to impose obligations, as that other has
power to impose obligations upon him; and 3. political independence,
as the light to owe his existence and continuance in society not to
the arbitrary will of another, but to his own rights and powers as a
member of the commonwealth, and, consequently, the possession of a
civil personality, which cannot be represented by any other than

The capability of voting by possession of the suffrage properly
constitutes the political qualification of a citizen as a member of
the state. But this, again, presupposes the independence or
self-sufficiency of the individual citizen among the people, as one
who is not a mere incidental part of the commonwealth, but a member of
it acting of his own will in community with others. The last of the
three qualities involved necessarily constitutes the distinction
between active and passive citizenship; although the latter conception
appears to stand in contradiction to the definition of a citizen as
such. The following examples may serve to remove this difficulty.
The apprentice of a merchant or tradesman, a servant who is not in the
employ of the state, a minor (naturaliter vel civiliter), all women,
and, generally, every one who is compelled to maintain himself not
according to his own industry, but as it is arranged by others (the
state excepted), are without civil personality, and their existence is
only, as it were, incidentally included in the state. The woodcutter
whom I employ on my estate; the smith in India who carries his hammer,
anvil, and bellows into the houses where he is engaged to work in
iron, as distinguished from the European carpenter or smith, who can
offer the independent products of his labour as wares for public sale;
the resident tutor as distinguished from the schoolmaster; the
ploughman as distinguished from the farmer and such like, illustrate
the distinction in question. In all these cases, the former members of
the contrast are distinguished from the latter by being mere
subsidiaries of the commonwealth and not active independent members of
it, because they are of necessity commanded and protected by others,
and consequently possess no political self-sufficiency in
themselves. Such dependence on the will of others and the consequent
inequality are, however, not inconsistent with the freedom and
equality of the individuals as men helping to constitute the people.
Much rather is it the case that it is only under such conditions
that a people can become a state and enter into a civil
constitution. But all are not equally qualified to exercise the
right of suffrage under the constitution, and to be full citizens of
the state, and not mere passive subjects under its protection. For,
although they are entitled to demand to be treated by all the other
citizens according to laws of natural freedom and equality, as passive
parts of the state, it does not follow that they ought themselves to
have the right to deal with the state as active members of it, to
reorganize it, or to take action by way of introducing certain laws.
All they have a right in their circumstances to claim may be no more
than that whatever be the mode in which the positive laws are enacted,
these laws must not be contrary to the natural laws that demand the
freedom of all the people and the equality that is conformable
thereto; and it must therefore be made possible for them to raise
themselves from this passive condition in the state to the condition
of active citizenship.

47. Dignities in the State and the Original Contract.

All these three powers in the state are dignities; and, as
necessarily arising out of the idea of the state and essential
generally to the foundation of its constitution, they are to be
regarded as political dignities. They imply the relation between a
universal sovereign as head of the state- which according to the
laws of freedom can be none other than the people itself united into a
nation- and the mass of the individuals of the nation as subjects. The
former member of the relation is the ruling power, whose function is
to govern (imperans); the latter is the ruled constituents of the
state, whose function is to obey (subditi).
The act by which a people is represented as constituting itself into
a state, is termed the original contract. This is properly only an
outward mode of representing the idea by which the rightfulness of the
process of organizing the constitution may be made conceivable.
According to this representation, all and each of the people give up
their external freedom in order to receive it immediately again as
members of a commonwealth. The commonwealth is the people viewed as
united altogether into a state. And thus it is not to be said that the
individual in the state has sacrificed a part of his inborn external
freedom for a particular purpose; but he has abandoned his wild
lawless freedom wholly, in order to find all his proper freedom
again entire and undiminished, but in the form of a regulated order of
dependence, that is, in a civil state regulated by laws of right. This
relation of dependence thus arises out of his own regulative law
giving will.

48. Mutual Relations and Characteristics of the
Three Powers.

The three powers in the state, as regards their relations to each
other, are, therefore: (1) coordinate with one another as so many
moral persons, and the one is thus the complement of the other in
the way of completing the constitution of the state; (2) they are
likewise subordinate to one another, so that the one cannot at the
same time usurp the function of the other by whose side it moves, each
having its own principle and maintaining its authority in a particular
person, but under the condition of the will of a superior; and
further, (3) by the union of both these relations, they assign
distributively to every subject in the state his own rights.
Considered as to their respective dignity, the three powers may be
thus described. The will of the sovereign legislator, in respect of
what constitutes the external mine and thine, is to be regarded as
irreprehensible; the executive function of the supreme ruler is to
be regarded as irresistible; and the judicial sentence of the
supreme judge is to be regarded as irreversible, being beyond appeal.

49. Distinct Functions of the Three Powers.
Autonomy of the State

1. The executive power belongs to the governor or regent of the
state, whether it assumes the form of a moral or individual person, as
the king or prince (rex, princeps). This executive authority, as the
supreme agent of the state, appoints the magistrates, and prescribes
the rules to the people, in accordance with which individuals may
acquire anything or maintain what is their own conformably to the law,
each case being brought under its application. Regarded as a moral
person, this executive authority constitutes the government. The
orders issued by the government to the people and the magistrates,
as well as to the higher ministerial administrators of the state
(gubernatio), are rescripts or decrees, and not laws; for they
terminate in the decision of particular cases, and are given forth
as unchangeable. A government acting as an executive, and at the
same time laying down the law as the legislative power, would be a
despotic government, and would have to be contradistinguished from a
patriotic government. A patriotic government, again, is to be
distinguished from a paternal government (regimen paternale) which
is the most despotic government of all, the citizens being dealt
with by it as mere children. A patriotic government, however, is one
in which the state, while dealing with the subjects as if they were
members of a family, still treats them likewise as citizens, and
according to laws that recognize their independence, each individual
possessing himself and not being dependent on the absolute will of
another beside him or above him.
2. The legislative authority ought not at the same time to be the
executive or governor; for the governor, as administrator, should
stand under the authority of the law, and is bound by it under the
supreme control of the legislator. The legislative authority may
therefore deprive the governor of his power, depose him, or reform his
administration, but not punish him. This is the proper and only
meaning of the common saying in England, "The King- as the supreme
executive power- can do no wrong." For any such application of
punishment would necessarily be an act of that very executive power to
which the supreme right to compel according to law pertains, and which
would itself be thus subjected to coercion; which is
3. Further, neither the legislative power nor the executive power
ought to exercise the judicial function, but only appoint judges as
magistrates. It is the people who ought to judge themselves, through
those of the citizens who are elected by free choice as their
representatives for this purpose, and even specially for every process
or cause. For the judicial sentence is a special act of public
distributive justice performed by a judge or court as a constitutional
administrator of the law, to a subject as one of the people. Such an
act is not invested inherently with the power to determine and
assign to any one what is his. Every individual among the people being
merely passive in this relation to the supreme power, either the
executive or the legislative authority might do him wrong in their
determinations in cases of dispute regarding the property of
individuals. It would not be the people themselves who thus
determined, or who pronounced the judgements of "guilty" or "not
guilty" regarding their fellow-citizens. For it is to the
determination of this issue in a cause that the court has to apply the
law; and it is by means of the executive authority, that the judge
holds power to assign to every one his own. Hence it is only the
people that properly can judge in a cause- although indirectly
representatives elected and deputed by themselves, as in a jury. It
would even be beneath the dignity of the sovereign head of the state
to play the judge; for this would be to put himself into a position in
which it would be possible to do wrong, and thus to subject himself to
the demand for an appeal to a still higher power (a rege male
informato ad regem melius informandum).
It is by the co-operation of these three powers- the legislative,
the executive, and the judicial- that the state realizes its autonomy.
This autonomy consists in its organizing, forming, and maintaining
itself in accordance with the laws of freedom. In their union the
welfare of the state is realized. Salus reipublicae suprema lex.* By
this is not to be understood merely the individual well-being and
happiness of the citizens of the state; for- as Rousseau asserts- this
end may perhaps be more agreeably and more desirably attained in the
state of nature, or even under a despotic government. But the
welfare of the state, as its own highest good, signifies that
condition in which the greatest harmony is attained between its
constitution and the principles of right- a condition of the state
which reason by a categorical imperative makes it obligatory upon us
to strive after.

*["The health of the state is the highest law."]

Constitutional and Juridical Consequences arising from
the Nature of the Civil Union.

A. Right of the Supreme Power; Treason; Dethronement;
Revolution; Reform.

The origin of the supreme power is practically inscrutable by the
people who are placed under its authority. In other words, the subject
need not reason too curiously in regard to its origin in the practical
relation, as if the right of the obedience due to it were to be
doubted (jus controversum). For as the people, in order to be able
to abjudicate with a title of right regarding the supreme power in the
state, must be regarded as already united under one common legislative
will, it cannot judge otherwise than as the present supreme head of
the state (summus imperans) wills. The question has been raised as
to whether an actual contract of subjection (pactum subjectionis
civilis) originally preceded the civil government as a fact; or
whether the power arose first, and the law only followed afterwards,
or may have followed in this order. But such questions, as regards the
people already actually living under the civil law, are either
entirely aimless, or even fraught with subtle danger to the state.
For, should the subject, after having dug down to the ultimate
origin of the state, rise in opposition to the present ruling
authority, he would expose himself as a citizen, according to the
law and with full right, to be punished, destroyed, or outlawed. A law
which is so holy and inviolable that it is practically a crime even to
cast doubt upon it, or to suspend its operation for a moment, is
represented of itself as necessarily derived from some supreme,
unblameable lawgiver. And this is the meaning of the maxim, "All
authority is from God", which proposition does not express the
historical foundation of the civil constitution, but an ideal
principle of the practical reason. It may be otherwise rendered
thus: "It is a duty to obey the law of the existing legislative power,
be its origin what it may."
Hence it follows, that the supreme power in the state has only
rights, and no (compulsory) duties towards the subject. Further, if
the ruler or regent, as the organ of the supreme power, proceeds in
violation of the laws, as in imposing taxes, recruiting soldiers,
and so on, contrary to the law of equality in the distribution of
the political burdens, the subject may oppose complaints and
objections (gravamina) to this injustice, but not active resistance.
There cannot even be an Article contained in the political
constitution that would make it possible for a power in the state,
in case of the transgression of the constitutional laws by the supreme
authority, to resist or even to restrict it in so doing. For,
whoever would restrict the supreme power of the state must have
more, or at least equal, power as compared with the power that is so
restricted; and if competent to command the subjects to resist, such a
one would also have to be able to protect them, and if he is to be
considered capable of judging what is right in every case, he may also
publicly order resistance. But such a one, and not the actual
authority, would then be the supreme power; which is contradictory.
The supreme sovereign power, then, in proceeding by a minister who
is at the same time the ruler of the state, consequently becomes
despotic; and the expedient of giving the people to imagine- when they
have properly only legislative influence- that they act by their
deputies by way of limiting the sovereign authority, cannot so mask
and disguise the actual despotism of such a government that it will
not appear in the measures and means adopted by the minister to
carry out his function. The people, while represented by their
deputies in parliament, under such conditions, may have in these
warrantors of their freedom and rights, persons who are keenly
interested on their own account and their families, and who look to
such a minister for the benefit of his influence in the army, navy,
and public offices. And hence, instead of offering resistance to the
undue pretensions of the government- whose public declarations ought
to carry a prior accord on the part of the people, which, however,
cannot be allowed in peace, they are rather always ready to play
into the hands of the government. Hence the so-called limited
political constitution, as a constitution of the internal rights of
the state, is an unreality; and instead of being consistent with
right, it is only a principle of expediency. And its aim is not so
much to throw all possible obstacles in the way of a powerful violator
of popular rights by his arbitrary influence upon the government, as
rather to cloak it over under the illusion of a right of opposition
conceded to the people.
Resistance on the part of the people to the supreme legislative
power of the state is in no case legitimate; for it is only by
submission to the universal legislative will, that a condition of
law and order is possible. Hence there is no right of sedition, and
still less of rebellion, belonging to the people. And least of all,
when the supreme power is embodied in an individual monarch, is
there any justification, under the pretext of his abuse of power,
for seizing his person or taking away his life (monarchomachismus
sub specie tyrannicidii). The slightest attempt of this kind is high
treason (proditio eminens); and a traitor of this sort who aims at the
overthrow of his country may be punished, as a political parricide,
even with death. It is the duty of the people to bear any abuse of the
supreme power, even then though it should be considered to be
unbearable. And the reason is that any resistance of the highest
legislative authority can never but be contrary to the law, and must
even be regarded as tending to destroy the whole legal constitution.
In order to be entitled to offer such resistance, a public law would
be required to permit it. But the supreme legislation would by such
a law cease to be supreme, and the people as subjects would be made
sovereign over that to which they are subject; which is a
contradiction. And the contradiction becomes more apparent when the
question is put: "Who is to be the judge in a controversy between
the people and the sovereign?" For the people and the sovereign are to
be constitutionally or juridically regarded as two different moral
persons; but the question shows that the people would then have to
be the judge in their own cause.

The dethronement of a monarch may be also conceived as a voluntary
abdication of the crown, and a resignation of his power into the hands
of the people; or it might be a deliberate surrender of these
without any assault on the royal person, in order that the monarch may
be relegated into private life. But, however it happen, forcible
compulsion of it, on the part of the people, cannot be justified under
the pretext of a right of necessity (casus necessitatis); and least of
all can the slightest right be shown for punishing the sovereign on
the ground of previous maladministration. For all that has been
already done in the quality of a sovereign must be regarded as done
outwardly by right; and, considered as the source of the laws, the
sovereign himself can do no wrong. Of all the abominations in the
overthrow of a state by revolution, even the murder or assassination
of the monarch is not the worst. For that may be done by the people
out of fear, lest, if he is allowed to live, he may again acquire
power and inflict punishment upon them; and so it may be done, not
as an act of punitive justice, but merely from regard to
self-preservation. It is the formal execution of a monarch that
horrifies a soul filled with ideas of human right; and this feeling
occurs again and again as of as the mind realizes the scenes that
terminated the fate of Charles I or Louis XVI. Now how is this feeling
to be explained? It is not a mere aesthetic feeling, arising from
the working of the imagination, nor from sympathy, produced by
fancying ourselves in the place of the sufferer. On the contrary, it
is a moral feeling arising from the entire subversion of all our
notions of right. Regicide, in short, is regarded as a crime which
always remains such and can never be expiated (crimen immortale,
inexpiabile); and it appears to resemble that sin which the
theologians declare can neither be forgiven in this world nor in the
next. The explanation of this phenomenon in the human mind appears
to be furnished by the following reflections upon it; and they even
shed some light upon the principles of political right.
Every transgression of a law only can and must be explained as
arising from a maxim of the transgressor making such wrong-doing his
rule of action; for were it not committed by him as a free being, it
could not be imputed to him. But it is absolutely impossible to
explain how any rational individual forms such a maxim against the
clear prohibition of the law-giving reason; for it is only events
which happen according to the mechanical laws of nature that are
capable of explanation. Now a transgressor or criminal may commit
his wrong-doing either according to the maxim of a rule supposed to be
valid objectively and universally, or only as an exception from the
rule by dispensing with its obligation for the occasion. In the latter
case, he only diverges from the law, although intentionally. He may,
at the same time, abhor his own transgression, and without formally
renouncing his obedience to the law only wish to avoid it. In the
former case, however, he rejects the authority of the law itself,
the validity of which, however, he cannot repudiate before his own
reason, even while he makes it his rule to act against it. His maxim
is, therefore, not merely defective as being negatively contrary to
the law, but it is even positively illegal, as being diametrically
contrary and in hostile opposition to it. So far as we can see into
and understand the relation, it would appear as if it were
impossible for men to commit wrongs and crimes of a wholly useless
form of wickedness, and yet the idea of such extreme perversity cannot
be overlooked in a system of moral philosophy.
There is thus a feeling of horror at the thought of the formal
execution of a monarch by his people. And the reason it is that,
whereas an act of assassination must be considered as only an
exception from the rule which has been constituted a maxim, such an
execution must be regarded as a complete perversion of the
principles that should regulate the relation between a sovereign and
his people. For it makes the people, who owe their constitutional
existence to the legislation that issued from the sovereign, to be the
ruler over him. Hence mere violence is thus elevated with bold brow,
and as it were by principle, above the holiest right; and, appearing
like an abyss to swallow up everything without recall, it seems like
suicide committed by the state upon itself and a crime that is capable
of no atonement. There is therefore reason to assume that the
consent that is accorded to such executions is not really based upon a
supposed principle of right, but only springs from fear of the
vengeance that would be taken upon the people were the same power to
revive again in the state. And hence it may be held that the
formalities accompanying them have only been put forward in order to
give these deeds a look of punishment from the accompaniment of a
judicial process, such as could not go along with a mere murder or
assassination. But such a cloaking of the deed entirely fails of its
purpose, because this pretension on the part of the people is even
worse than murder itself, as it implies a principle which would
necessarily make the restoration of a state, when once overthrown,
an impossibility.
An alteration of the still defective constitution of the state may
sometimes be quite necessary. But all such changes ought only to
proceed from the sovereign power in the way of reform, and are not
to be brought about by the people in the way of revolution; and when
they take place, they should only effect the executive, and not the
legislative, power. A political constitution which is so modified that
the people by their representatives in parliament can legally resist
the executive power, and its representative minister, is called a
limited constitution. Yet even under such a constitution there is no
right of active resistance, as by an arbitrary combination of the
people to coerce the government into a certain active procedure; for
this would be to assume to perform an act of the executive itself. All
that can rightly be allowed, is only a negative resistance,
amounting to an act of refusal on the part of the people to concede
all the demands which the executive may deem it necessary to make in
behoof of the political administration. And if this right were never
exercised, it would be a sure sign that the people were corrupted,
their representatives venal, the supreme head of the government
despotic, and his ministers practically betrayers of the people.
Further, when on the success of a revolution a new constitution
has been founded, the unlawfulness of its beginning and of its
institution cannot release the subjects from the obligation of
adapting themselves, as good citizens, to the new order of things; and
they are not entitled to refuse honourably to obey the authority
that has thus attained the power in the state. A dethroned monarch,
who has survived such a revolution, is not to be called to account
on the ground of his former administration; and still less may he be
punished for it, when with drawing into the private life of a
citizen he prefers his own quiet and the peace of the state to the
uncertainty of exile, with the intention of maintaining his claims for
restoration at all hazards, and pushing these either by secret
counter-revolution or by the assistance of other powers. However, if
he prefers to follow the latter course, his rights remain, because the
rebellion that drove him from his position was inherently unjust.
But the question then emerges as to whether other powers have the
right to form themselves into an alliance in behalf of such a
dethroned monarch merely in order not to leave the crime committed
by the people unavenged, or to do away with it as a scandal to all the
states; and whether they are therefore justified and called upon to
restore by force to another state a formerly existing constitution
that has been removed by a revolution. The discussion of this
question, however, does not belong to this department of public right,
but to the following section, concerning the right of nations.

B. Land Rights. Secular and Church Lands, Rights of Taxation;
Finance; Police; Inspection.

Is the sovereign, viewed as embodying the legislative power, to be
regarded as the supreme proprietor of the soil, or only as the highest
ruler of the people by the laws? As the soil is the supreme
condition under which it is alone possible to have external things
as one's own, its possible possession and use constitute the first
acquirable basis of external right. Hence it is that all such rights
must be derived from the sovereign as overlord and paramount
superior of the soil, or, as it may be better put, as the supreme
proprietor of the land (dominus territorii). The people, as forming
the mass of the subjects, belong to the sovereign as a people; not
in the sense of his being their proprietor in the way of real right,
but as their supreme commander or chief in the way of personal
right. This supreme proprietorship, however, is only an idea of the
civil constitution, objectified to represent, in accordance with
juridical conceptions, the necessary union of the private property
of all the people under a public universal possessor. The relation
is so represented in order that it may form a basis for the
determination of particular rights in property. It does not proceed,
therefore, upon the principle of mere aggregation, which advances
empirically from the parts to the whole, but from the necessary formal
principle of a division of the soil according to conceptions of right.
In accordance with this principle, the supreme universal proprietor
cannot have any private property in any part of the soil; for
otherwise he would make himself a private person. Private property
in the soil belongs only to the people, taken distributively and not
collectively; from which condition, however, a nomadic people must
be excepted as having no private property at all in the soil. The
supreme proprietor accordingly ought not to hold private estates,
either for private use or for the support of the court. For, as it
would depend upon his own pleasure how far these should extend, the
state would be in danger of seeing all property in the land taken into
the hands of the government, and all the subjects treated as
bondsmen of the soil (glebae adscripti). As possessors only of what
was the private property of another, they might thus be deprived of
all freedom and regarded as serfs or slaves. Of the supreme proprietor
of the land, it may be said that he possesses nothing as his own,
except himself; for if he possessed things in the state alongside of
others, dispute and litigation would be possible with these others
regarding those things, and there would be no independent judge to
settle the cause. But it may also be said that he possesses
everything; for he has the supreme right of sovereignty over the whole
people, to whom all external things severally (divisim) belong; and as
such he assigns distributively to every one what is to be his.
Hence there cannot be any corporation in the state, nor any class or
order, that as proprietors can transmit the land for a sole
exclusive use to the following generations for all time (ad
infinitum), according to certain fixed statutes. The state may annul
and abrogate all such statutes at any time, only under the condition
of indemnifying survivors for their interests. The order of knights,
constituting the nobility regarded as a mere rank or class of
specially titled individuals, as well as the order of the clergy,
called the church, are both subject to this relation. They can never
be entitled by any hereditary privileges with which they may be
favoured, to acquire an absolute property in the soil transmissible to
their successors. They can only acquire the use of such property for
the time being. If public opinion has ceased, on account of other
arrangements, to impel the state to protect itself from negligence
in the national defence by appeal to the military honour of the
knightly order, the estates granted on that condition may be recalled.
And, in like manner, the church lands or spiritualities may be
reclaimed by the state without scruple, if public opinion has ceased
to impel the members of the state to maintain masses for the souls
of the dead, prayers for the living, and a multitude of clergy, as
means to protect themselves from eternal fire. But in both cases,
the condition of indemnifying existing interests must be observed.
Those who in this connection fall under the movement of reform are not
entitled to complain that their property is taken from them; for the
foundation of their previous possession lay only in the opinion of the
people, and it can be valid only so long as this opinion lasts. As
soon as this public opinion in favour of such institutions dies out,
or is even extinguished in the judgement of those who have the
greatest claim by their acknowledged merit to lead and represent it,
the putative proprietorship in question must cease, as if by a
public appeal made regarding it to the state (a rege male informato ad
regem melius informandum).
On this primarily acquired supreme proprietorship in the land
rests the right of the sovereign, as universal proprietor of the
country, to assess the private proprietors of the soil, and to
demand taxes, excise, and dues, or the performance of service to the
state such as may be required in war. But this is to be done so that
it is actually the people that assess themselves, this being the
only mode of proceeding according to laws of right. This may be
effected through the medium of the body of deputies who represent
the people. It is also permissible, in circumstances in which the
state is in imminent danger, to proceed by a forced loan, as a right
vested in the sovereign, although this may be a divergence from the
existing law.
Upon this principle is also founded the right of administering the
national economy, including the finance and the police. The police has
specially to care for the public safety, convenience, and decency.
As regards the last of these- the feeling or negative taste for public
propriety- it is important that it be not deadened by such
influences as begging, disorderly noises, offensive smells, public
prostitution (Venus vulgivaga), or other offences against the moral
sense, as it greatly facilitates the government in the task of
regulating the life of the people by law.
For the preservation of the state there further belongs to it a
right of inspection (jus inspectionis), which entitles the public
authority to see that no secret society, political or religious,
exists among the people that can exert a prejudicial influence upon
the public weal. Accordingly, when it is required by the police, no
such secret society may refuse to lay open its constitution. But the
visitation and search of private houses by the police can only be
justified in a case of necessity; and in every particular instance, it
must be authorized by a higher authority.

C. Relief of the Poor. Foundling Hospitals. The Church.

The sovereign, as undertaker of the duty of the people, has the
right to tax them for purposes essentially connected with their own
preservation. Such are, in particular, the relief of the poor,
foundling asylums, and ecclesiastical establishments, otherwise
designated charitable or pious foundations.
1. The people have in fact united themselves by their common will
into a society, which has to be perpetually maintained; and for this
purpose they have subjected themselves to the internal power of the
state, in order to preserve the members of this society even when they
are not able to support themselves. By the fundamental principle of
the state, the government is justified and entitled to compel those
who are able, to furnish the means necessary to preserve those who are
not themselves capable of providing for the most necessary wants of
nature. For the existence of persons with property in the state
implies their submission under it for protection and the provision
by the state of what is necessary for their existence; and accordingly
the state founds a right upon an obligation on their part to
contribute of their means for the preservation of their fellow
citizens. This may be carried out by taxing the property or the
commercial industry of the citizens, or by establishing funds and
drawing interest from them, not for the wants of the state as such,
which is rich, but for those of the people. And this is not to be done
merely by voluntary contributions, but by compulsory exactions as
state-burdens, for we are here considering only the right of the state
in relation to the people. Among the voluntary modes of raising such
contributions, lotteries ought not to be allowed, because they
increase the number of those who are poor, and involve danger to the
public property. It may be asked whether the relief of the poor
ought to be administered out of current contributions, so that every
age should maintain its own poor; or whether this were better done
by means of permanent funds and charitable institutions, such as
widows' homes, hospitals, etc.? And if the former method is the
better, it may also be considered whether the means necessary are to
be raised by a legal assessment rather than by begging, which is
generally nigh akin to robbing. The former method must in reality be
regarded as the only one that is conformable to the right of the
state, which cannot withdraw its connection from any one who has to
live. For a legal current provision does not make the profession of
poverty a means of gain for the indolent, as is to be feared is the
case with pious foundations when they grow with the number of the
poor; nor can it be charged with being an unjust or unrighteous burden
imposed by the government on the people.
2. The state has also a right to impose upon the people the duty
of preserving children exposed from want or shame, and who would
otherwise perish; for it cannot knowingly allow this increase of its
power to be destroyed, however unwelcome in some respects it may be.
But it is a difficult question to determine how this may most justly
be carried out. It might be considered whether it would not be right
to exact contributions for this purpose from the unmarried persons
of both sexes who are possessed of means, as being in part responsible
for the evil; and further, whether the end in view would be best
carried out by foundling hospitals, or in what other way consistent
with right. But this is a problem of which no solution has yet been
offered that does not in some measure offend against right or
3. The church is here regarded as an ecclesiastical establishment
merely, and as such it must be carefully distinguished from
religion, which as an internal mode of feeling lies wholly beyond
the sphere of the action of the civil power. Viewed as an
institution for public worship founded for the people- to whose
opinion or conviction it owes its origin- the church establishment
responds to a real want in the state. This is the need felt by the
people to regard themselves as also subjects of a Supreme Invisible
Power to which they must pay homage, and which may of be brought
into a very undesirable collision with the civil power. The state
has therefore a right in this relation; but it is not to be regarded
as the right of constitutional legislation in the church, so as to
organize it as may seem most advantageous for itself, or to
prescribe and command its faith and ritual forms of worship (ritus);
for all this must be left entirely to the teachers and rulers which
the church has chosen for itself. The function of the state in this
connection, only includes the negative right of regulating the
influence of these public teachers upon the visible political
commonwealth, that it may not be prejudicial to the public peace and
tranquility. Consequently the state has to take measures, on
occasion of any internal conflict in the church, or on occasion of any
collision of the several churches with each other, that civil
concord is not endangered; and this right falls within the province of
the police. It is beneath the dignity of the supreme power to
interpose in determining what particular faith the church shall
profess, or to decree that a certain faith shall be unalterably
held, and that the church may not reform itself. For in doing so,
the supreme power would be mixing itself up in a scholastic wrangle,
on a footing of equality with its subjects; the monarch would be
making himself a priest; and the churchmen might even reproach the
supreme power with understanding nothing about matters of faith.
Especially would this hold in respect of any prohibition of internal
reform in the church; for what the people as a whole cannot
determine upon for themselves cannot be determined for the people by
the legislator. But no people can ever rationally determine that
they will never advance farther in their insight into matters of
faith, or resolve that they will never reform the institutions of
the church; because this would be opposed to the humanity in their own
persons and to their highest rights. And therefore the supreme power
cannot of itself resolve and decree in these matters for the people.
As regards the cost of maintaining the ecclesiastical establishment,
for similar reasons this must be derived not from the public funds
of the state, but from the section of the people who profess the
particular faith of the church; and thus only ought it to fall as a
burden on the community.

D. The Right of Assigning Offices and Dignities in the State.

The right of the supreme authority in the state also includes:
1. The distribution of offices, as public and paid employments;
2. The conferring of dignities, as unpaid distinctions of rank,
founded merely on honour, but establishing a gradation of higher and
lower orders in the political scale; the latter, although free in
themselves, being under obligation determined by the public law to
obey the former so far as they are also entitled to command;
3. Besides these relatively beneficent rights, the supreme power
in the state is also invested with the right of administering
As regards civil offices, the question arises as to whether the
sovereign has the right, after bestowing an office on an individual,
to take it again away at his mere pleasure, without any crime having
been committed by the holder of the office. I say, "No." For what
the united will of the people would never resolve, regarding their
civil officers, cannot (constitutionally) be determined by the
sovereign regarding them. The people have to bear the cost incurred by
the appointment of an official, and undoubtedly it must be their
will that any one in office should be completely competent for its
duties. But such competency can only be acquired by a long preparation
and training, and this process would necessarily occupy the time
that would be required for acquiring the means of support by a
different occupation. Arbitrary and frequent changes would
therefore, as a rule, have the effect of filling offices with
functionaries who have not acquired the skill required for their
duties, and whose judgements had not attained maturity by practice.
All this is contrary to the purpose of the state. And besides it is
requisite in the interest of the people that it should be possible for
every individual to rise from a lower office to the higher offices, as
these latter would otherwise fall into incompetent hands, and that
competent officials generally should have some guarantee of
life-long provision.
Civil dignities include not only such as are connected with a public
office, but also those which make the possessors of them, without
any accompanying services to the state, members of a higher class or
rank. The latter constitute the nobility, whose members are
distinguished from the common citizens who form the mass of the
people. The rank of the nobility is inherited by male descendants; and
these again communicate it to wives who are not nobly born. Female
descendants of noble families, however, do not communicate their
rank to husbands who are not of noble birth, but they descend
themselves into the common civil status of the people. This being
so, the question then emerges as to whether the sovereign has the
right to found a hereditary rank and class, intermediate between
himself and the other citizens? The import of this question does not
turn on whether it is conformable to the prudence of the sovereign,
from regard to his own and the people's interests, to have such an
institution; but whether it is in accordance with the right of the
people that they should have a class of persons above them, who, while
being subjects like themselves, are yet born as their commanders, or
at least as privileged superiors? The answer to this question, as in
previous instances, is to be derived from the principle that "what the
people, as constituting the whole mass of the subjects, could not
determine regarding themselves and their associated citizens, cannot
be constitutionally determined by the sovereign regarding the people."
Now a hereditary nobility is a rank which takes precedence of merit
and is hoped for without any good reason- a thing of the imagination
without genuine reality. For if an ancestor had merit, he could not
transmit it to his posterity, but they must always acquire it for
themselves. Nature has in fact not so arranged that the talent and
will which give rise to merit in the state, are hereditary. And
because it cannot be supposed of any individual that he will throw
away his freedom, it is impossible that the common will of all the
people should agree to such a groundless prerogative, and hence the
sovereign cannot make it valid. It may happen, however, that such an
anomaly as that of subjects who would be more than citizens, in the
manner of born officials, or hereditary professors, has slipped into
the mechanism of government in olden times, as in the case of the
feudal system, which was almost entirely organized with reference to
war. Under such circumstances, the state cannot deal otherwise with
this error of a wrongly instituted rank in its midst, than by the
remedy of a gradual extinction through hereditary positions being left
unfilled as they fall vacant. The state has therefore the right
provisorily to let a dignity in title continue, until the public
opinion matures on the subject. And this will thus pass from the
threefold division into sovereign, nobles, and people, to the
twofold and only natural division into sovereign and people.
No individual in the state can indeed be entirely without dignity;
for he has at least that of being a citizen, except when he has lost
his civil status by a crime. As a criminal he is still maintained in
life, but he is made the mere instrument of the will of another,
whether it be the state or a particular citizen. In the latter
position, in which he could only be placed by a juridical judgement,
he would practically become a slave, and would belong as property
(dominium) to another, who would be not merely his master (herus)
but his owner (dominus). Such an owner would be entitled to exchange
or alienate him as a thing, to use him at will except for shameful
purposes, and to dispose of his powers, but not of his life and
members. No one can bind himself to such a condition of dependence, as
he would thereby cease to be a person, and it is only as a person that
he can make a contract. It may, however, appear that one man may
bind himself to another by a contract of hire, to discharge a
certain service that is permissible in its kind, but is left
entirely undetermined as regards its measure or amount; and that as
receiving wages or board or protection in return, he thus becomes only
a servant subject to the will of a master (subditus) and not a slave
(servus). But this is an illusion. For if masters are entitled to
use the powers of such subjects at will, they may exhaust these
powers- as has been done in the case of Negroes in the Sugar Island-
and they may thus reduce their servants to despair and death. But this
would imply that they had actually given themselves away to their
masters as property; which, in the case of persons, is impossible. A
person can, therefore, only contract to perform work that is defined
both in quality and quantity, either as a day-labourer or as a
domiciled subject. In the latter case he may enter into a contract
of lease for the use of the land of a superior, giving a definite rent
or annual return for its utilization by himself, or he may contract
for his service as a labourer upon the land. But he does not thereby
make himself a slave, or a bondsman, or a serf attached to the soil
(glebae adscriptus), as he would thus divest himself of his
personality; he can only enter into a temporary or at most a heritable
lease. And even if by committing a crime he has personally become
subjected to another, this subject-condition does not become
hereditary; for he has only brought it upon himself by his own
wrongdoing. Neither can one who has been begotten by a slave be
claimed as property on the ground of the cost of his rearing,
because such rearing is an absolute duty naturally incumbent upon
parents; and in case the parents be slaves, it devolves upon their
masters or owners, who, in undertaking the possession of such
subjects, have also made themselves responsible for the performance of
their duties.

E. The Right of Punishing and of Pardoning.
I. The Right of Punishing.

The right of administering punishment is the right of the
sovereign as the supreme power to inflict pain upon a subject on
account of a crime committed by him. The head of the state cannot
therefore be punished; but his supremacy may be withdrawn from him.
Any transgression of the public law which makes him who commits it
incapable of being a citizen, constitutes a crime, either simply as
a private crime (crimen), or also as a public crime (crimen publicum).
Private crimes are dealt with by a civil court; public crimes by a
criminal court. Embezzlement or speculation of money or goods
entrusted in trade, fraud in purchase or sale, if done before the eyes
of the party who suffers, are private crimes. On the other hand,
coining false money or forging bills of exchange, theft, robbery,
etc., are public crimes, because the commonwealth, and not merely some
particular individual, is endangered thereby. Such crimes may be
divided into those of a base character (indolis abjectae) and those of
a violent character (indolis violentiae).
Judicial or juridical punishment (poena forensis) is to be
distinguished from natural punishment (poena naturalis), in which
crime as vice punishes itself, and does not as such come within the
cognizance of the legislator. juridical punishment can never be
administered merely as a means for promoting another good either
with regard to the criminal himself or to civil society, but must in
all cases be imposed only because the individual on whom it is
inflicted has committed a crime. For one man ought never to be dealt
with merely as a means subservient to the purpose of another, nor be
mixed up with the subjects of real right. Against such treatment his
inborn personality has a right to protect him, even although he may be
condemned to lose his civil personality. He must first be found guilty
and punishable, before there can be any thought of drawing from his
punishment any benefit for himself or his fellow-citizens. The penal
law is a categorical imperative; and woe to him who creeps through the
serpent-windings of utilitarianism to discover some advantage that may
discharge him from the justice of punishment, or even from the due
measure of it, according to the Pharisaic maxim: "It is better that
one man should die than that the whole people should perish." For if
justice and righteousness perish, human life would no longer have
any value in the world. What, then, is to be said of such a proposal
as to keep a criminal alive who has been condemned to death, on his
being given to understand that, if he agreed to certain dangerous
experiments being performed upon him, he would be allowed to survive
if he came happily through them? It is argued that physicians might
thus obtain new information that would be of value to the
commonweal. But a court of justice would repudiate with scorn any
proposal of this kind if made to it by the medical faculty; for
justice would cease to be justice, if it were bartered away for any
consideration whatever.
But what is the mode and measure of punishment which public
justice takes as its principle and standard? It is just the
principle of equality, by which the pointer of the scale of justice is
made to incline no more to the one side than the other. It may be
rendered by saying that the undeserved evil which any one commits on
another is to be regarded as perpetrated on himself. Hence it may be
said: "If you slander another, you slander yourself; if you steal from
another, you steal from yourself; if you strike another, you strike
yourself; if you kill another, you kill yourself." This is the right
of retaliation (jus talionis); and, properly understood, it is the
only principle which in regulating a public court, as distinguished
from mere private judgement, can definitely assign both the quality
and the quantity of a just penalty. All other standards are wavering
and uncertain; and on account of other considerations involved in
them, they contain no principle conformable to the sentence of pure
and strict justice. It may appear, however, that difference of
social status would not admit the application of the principle of
retaliation, which is that of "like with like." But although the
application may not in all cases be possible according to the
letter, yet as regards the effect it may always be attained in
practice, by due regard being given to the disposition and sentiment
of the parties in the higher social sphere. Thus a pecuniary penalty
on account of a verbal injury may have no direct proportion to the
injustice of slander; for one who is wealthy may be able to indulge
himself in this offence for his own gratification. Yet the attack
committed on the honour of the party aggrieved may have its equivalent
in the pain inflicted upon the pride of the aggressor, especially if
he is condemned by the judgement of the court, not only to retract and
apologize, but to submit to some meaner ordeal, as kissing the hand of
the injured person. In like manner, if a man of the highest rank has
violently assaulted an innocent citizen of the lower orders, he may be
condemned not only to apologize but to undergo a solitary and
painful imprisonment, whereby, in addition to the discomfort
endured, the vanity of the offender would be painfully affected, and
the very shame of his position would constitute an adequate
retaliation after the principle of "like with like." But how then
would we render the statement: "If you steal from another, you steal
from yourself?" In this way, that whoever steals anything makes the
property of all insecure; he therefore robs himself of all security in
property, according to the right of retaliation. Such a one has
nothing, and can acquire nothing, but he has the will to live; and
this is only possible by others supporting him. But as the state
should not do this gratuitously, he must for this purpose yield his
powers to the state to be used in penal labour; and thus he falls
for a time, or it may be for life, into a condition of slavery. But
whoever has committed murder, must die. There is, in this case, no
juridical substitute or surrogate, that can be given or taken for
the satisfaction of justice. There is no likeness or proportion
between life, however painful, and death; and therefore there is no
equality between the crime of murder and the retaliation of it but
what is judicially accomplished by the execution of the criminal.
His death, however, must be kept free from all maltreatment that would
make the humanity suffering in his person loathsome or abominable.
Even if a civil society resolved to dissolve itself with the consent
of all its members- as might be supposed in the case of a people
inhabiting an island resolving to separate and scatter themselves
throughout the whole world- the last murderer lying in the prison
ought to be executed before the resolution was carried out. This ought
to be done in order that every one may realize the desert of his
deeds, and that blood-guiltiness may not remain upon the people; for
otherwise they might all be regarded as participators in the murder as
a public violation of justice.
The equalization of punishment with crime is therefore only possible
by the cognition of the judge extending even to the penalty of
death, according to the right of retaliation. This is manifest from
the fact that it is only thus that a sentence can be pronounced over
all criminals proportionate to their internal wickedness; as may be
seen by considering the case when the punishment of death has to be
inflicted, not on account of a murder, but on account of a political
crime that can only be punished capitally. A hypothetical case,
founded on history, will illustrate this. In the last Scottish
rebellion there were various participators in it- such as Balmerino
and others- who believed that in taking part in the rebellion they
were only discharging their duty to the house of Stuart; but there
were also others who were animated only by private motives and
interests. Now, suppose that the judgement of the supreme court
regarding them had been this: that every one should have liberty to
choose between the punishment of death or penal servitude for life. In
view of such an alternative, I say that the man of honour would choose
death, and the knave would choose servitude. This would be the
effect of their human nature as it is; for the honourable man values
his honour more highly than even life itself, whereas a knave
regards a life, although covered with shame, as better in his eyes
than not to be. The former is, without gainsaying, less guilty than
the other; and they can only be proportionately punished by death
being inflicted equally upon them both; yet to the one it is a mild
punishment when his nobler temperament is taken into account,
whereas it is a hard punishment to the other in view of his baser
temperament. But, on the other hand, were they all equally condemned
to penal servitude for life, the honourable man would be too
severely punished, while the other, on account of his baseness of
nature, would be too mildly punished. In the judgement to be
pronounced over a number of criminals united in such a conspiracy, the
best equalizer of punishment and crime in the form of public justice
is death. And besides all this, it has never been heard of that a
criminal condemned to death on account of a murder has complained that
the sentence inflicted on him more than was right and just; and any
one would treat him with scorn if he expressed himself to this
effect against it. Otherwise it would be necessary to admit that,
although wrong and injustice are not done to the criminal by the
law, yet the legislative power is not entitled to administer this mode
of punishment; and if it did so, it would be in contradiction with
However many they may be who have committed a murder, or have even
commanded it, or acted as art and part in it, they ought all to suffer
death; for so justice wills it, in accordance with the idea of the
juridical power, as founded on the universal laws of reason. But the
number of the accomplices (correi) in such a deed might happen to be
so great that the state, in resolving to be without such criminals,
would be in danger of soon also being deprived of subjects. But it
will not thus dissolve itself, neither must it return to the much
worse condition of nature, in which there would be no external
justice. Nor, above all, should it deaden the sensibilities of the
people by the spectacle of justice being exhibited in the mere carnage
of a slaughtering bench. In such circumstances the sovereign must
always be allowed to have it in his power to take the part of the
judge upon himself as a case of necessity- and to deliver a
judgement which, instead of the penalty of death, shall assign some
other punishment to the criminals and thereby preserve a multitude
of the people. The penalty of deportation is relevant in this
connection. Such a form of judgement cannot be carried out according
to a public law, but only by an authoritative act of the royal
prerogative, and it may only be applied as an act of grace in
individual cases.
Against these doctrines, the Marquis Beccaria has given forth a
different view. Moved by the compassionate sentimentality of a
humane feeling, he has asserted that all capital punishment is wrong
in itself and unjust. He has put forward this view on the ground
that the penalty of death could not be contained in the original civil
contract; for, in that case, every one of the people would have had to
consent to lose his life if be murdered any of his fellow citizens.
But, it is argued, such a consent is impossible, because no one can
thus dispose of his own life. All this is mere sophistry and
perversion of right. No one undergoes punishment because he has willed
to be punished, but because he has willed a punishable action; for
it is in fact no punishment when any one experiences what he wills,
and it is impossible for any one to will to be punished. To say, "I
will to be punished, if I murder any one," can mean nothing more than,
"I submit myself along with all the other citizens to the laws"; and
if there are any criminals among the people, these laws will include
penal laws. The individual who, as a co-legislator, enacts penal law
cannot possibly be the same person who, as a subject, is punished
according to the law; for, qua criminal, he cannot possibly be
regarded as having a voice in the legislation, the legislator being
rationally viewed as just and holy. If any one, then, enact a penal
law against himself as a criminal, it must be the pure juridically
law-giving reason (homo noumenon), which subjects him as one capable
of crime, and consequently as another person (homo phenomenon),
along with all the others in the civil union, to this penal law. In
other words, it is not the people taken distributively, but the
tribunal of public justice, as distinct from the criminal, that
prescribes capital punishment; and it is not to be viewed as if the
social contract contained the promise of all the individuals to
allow themselves to be punished, thus disposing of themselves and
their lives. For if the right to punish must be grounded upon a
promise of the wrongdoer, whereby he is to be regarded as being
willing to be punished, it ought also to be left to him to find
himself deserving of the punishment; and the criminal would thus be
his own judge. The chief error (proton pseudos) of this sophistry
consists in regarding the judgement of the criminal himself,
necessarily determined by his reason, that he is under obligation to
undergo the loss of his life, as a judgement that must be grounded
on a resolution of his will to take it away himself; and thus the
execution of the right in question is represented as united in one and
the same person with the adjudication of the right.
There are, however, two crimes worthy of death, in respect of
which it still remains doubtful whether the legislature have the right
to deal with them capitally. It is the sentiment of honour that
induces their perpetration. The one originates in a regard for womanly
honour, the other in a regard for military honour; and in both cases
there is a genuine feeling of honour incumbent on the individuals as a
duty. The former is the crime of maternal infanticide (infanticidium
maternale); the latter is the crime of killing a fellow-soldier in a
duel (commilitonicidium). Now legislation cannot take away the shame
of an illegitimate birth, nor wipe off the stain attaching from a
suspicion of cowardice, to an officer who does not resist an act
that would bring him into contempt, by an effort of his own that is
superior to the fear of death. Hence it appears that, in such
circumstances, the individuals concerned are remitted to the state
of nature; and their acts in both cases must be called homicide, and
not murder, which involves evil intent (homicidium dolosum). In all
instances the acts are undoubtedly punishable; but they cannot be
punished by the supreme power with death. An illegitimate child
comes into the world outside of the law which properly regulates
marriage, and it is thus born beyond the pale or constitutional
protection of the law. Such a child is introduced, as it were, like
prohibited goods, into the commonwealth, and as it has no legal
right to existence in this way, its destruction might also be ignored;
nor can the shame of the mother, when her unmarried confinement is
known, be removed by any legal ordinance. A subordinate officer,
again, on whom an insult is inflicted, sees himself compelled by the
public opinion of his associates to obtain satisfaction; and, as in
the state of nature, the punishment of the offender can only be
effected by a duel, in which his own life is exposed to danger, and
not by means of the law in a court of justice. The duel is therefore
adopted as the means of demonstrating his courage as that
characteristic upon which the honour of his profession essentially
rests; and this is done even if it should issue in the killing of
his adversary. But as such a result takes place publicly and under the
consent of both parties, although it may be done unwillingly, it
cannot properly be called murder (homicidium dolosum). What then is
the right in both cases as relating to criminal justice? Penal justice
is here in fact brought into great straits, having apparently either
to declare the notion of honour, which is certainly no mere fancy
here, to 'be nothing in the eye of the law, or to exempt the crime
from its due punishment; and thus it would become either remiss or
cruel. The knot thus tied is to be resolved in the following way.
The categorical imperative of penal justice, that the killing of any
person contrary to the law must be punished with death, remains in
force; but the legislation itself and the civil constitution
generally, so long as they are still barbarous and incomplete, are
at fault. And this is the reason why the subjective
motive-principles of honour among the people do not coincide with
the standards which are objectively conformable to another purpose; so
that the public justice issuing from the state becomes injustice
relatively to that which is upheld among the people themselves.

II. The Right of Pardoning.

The right of pardoning (jus aggratiandi), viewed in relation to
the criminal, is the right of mitigating or entirely remitting his
punishment. On the side of the sovereign this is the most delicate
of all rights, as it may be exercised so as to set forth the splendour
of his dignity, and yet so as to do a great wrong by it. It ought
not to be exercised in application to the crimes of the subjects
against each other; for exemption from punishment (impunitas criminis)
would be the greatest wrong that could be done to them. It is only
an occasion of some form of treason (crimen laesae majestatis), as a
lesion against himself, that the sovereign should make use of this
right. And it should not be exercised even in this connection, if
the safety of the people would be endangered by remitting such
punishment. This right is the only one which properly deserves the
name of a "right of majesty."

50. Juridical Relations of the Citizen to his Country and
to Other Countries. Emigration; Immigration; Banishment;

The land or territory whose inhabitants- in virtue of its
political constitution and without the necessary intervention of a
special juridical act- are, by birth, fellow-citizens of one and the
same commonwealth, is called their country or fatherland. A foreign
country is one in which they would not possess this condition, but
would be living abroad. If a country abroad form part of the territory
under the same government as at home, it constitutes a province,
according to the Roman usage of the term. It does not constitute an
incorporated portion of the empire (imperii) so as to be the abode
of equal fellow-citizens, but is only a possession of the
government, like a lower house; and it must therefore honour the
domain of the ruling state as the "mother country" (regio domina).
1. A subject, even regarded as a citizen, has the right of
emigration; for the state cannot retain him as if he were its
property. But he may only carry away with him his moveables as
distinguished from his fixed possessions. However, he is entitled to
sell his immovable property, and take the value of it in money with
2. The supreme power, as master of the country, has the right to
favour immigration and the settlement of strangers and colonists. This
will hold even although the natives of the country may be unfavourably
disposed to it, if their private property in the soil is not
diminished or interfered with.
3. In the case of a subject who has committed a crime that renders
all society of his fellow-citizens with him prejudicial to the
state, the supreme power has also the right of inflicting banishment
to a country abroad. By such deportation, he does not acquire any
share in the rights of citizens of the territory to which he is
4. The supreme power has also the right of imposing exile
generally (jus exilii), by which a citizen is sent abroad into the
wide world as the "out-land." And because the supreme authority thus
withdraws all legal protection from the citizen, this amounts to
making him an "outlaw" within the territory of his own country.

51. The Three Forms of the State: Autocracy;
Aristocracy; Democracy.

The three powers in the state, involved in the conception of a
public government generally (res publica latius dicta), are only so
many relations of the united will of the people which emanates from
the a priori reason; and viewed as such it is the objective
practical realization of the pure idea of a supreme head of the state.
This supreme head is the sovereign; but conceived only as a
representation of the whole people, the idea still requires physical
embodiment in a person, who may exhibit the supreme power of the state
and bring the idea actively to bear upon the popular will. The
relation of the supreme power to the people is conceivable in three
different forms: either one in the state rules over all; or some,
united in relation of equality with each other, rule over all the
others; or all together rule over each and all individually, including
themselves. The form of the state is therefore either autocratic, or
aristocratic, or democratic. The expression monarchic is not so
suitable as autocratic for the conception here intended; for a monarch
is one who has the highest power, an autocrat is one who has all
power, so that this latter is the sovereign, whereas the former merely
represents the sovereignty.
It is evident that an autocracy is the simplest form of government
in the state, being constituted by the relation of one, as king, to
the people, so that there is one only who is the lawgiver. An
aristocracy, as a form of government, is, however, compounded of the
union of two relations: that of the nobles in relation to one
another as the lawgivers, thereby constituting the sovereignty, and
that of this sovereign power to the people. A democracy, again, is the
most complex of all the forms of the state, for it has to begin by
uniting the will of all so as to form a people; and then it has to
appoint a sovereign over this common union, which sovereign is no
other than the united will itself. The consideration of the ways in
which these forms are adulterated by the intrusion of violent and
illegitimate usurpers of power, as in oligarchy and ochlocracy, as
well as the discussion of the so called mixed constitutions, may be
passed over here as not essential, and as leading into too much
As regards the administration of right in the state, it may be
said that the simplest mode is also the best; but as regards its
bearing on right itself, it is also the most dangerous for the people,
in view of the despotism to which simplicity of administration so
naturally gives rise. It is undoubtedly a rational maxim to aim at
simplification in the machinery which is to unite the people under
compulsory laws, and this would be secured were all the people to be
passive and to obey only one person over them; but the method would
not give subjects who were also citizens of the state. It is sometimes
said that the people should be satisfied with the reflection that
monarchy, regarded as an autocracy, is the best political
constitution, if the monarch is good, that is, if be has the judgement
as well as the will to do right. But this is a mere evasion and
belongs to the common class of wise tautological phrases. It only
amounts to saying that "the best constitution is that by which the
supreme administrator of the state is made the best ruler"; that is,
that the best constitution is the best!

52. Historical Origin and Changes.
A Pure Republic. Representative Government.

It is vain to inquire into the historical origin of the political
mechanism; for it is no longer possible to discover historically the
point of time at which civil society took its beginning. Savages do
not draw up a documentary record of their having submitted
themselves to law; and it may be inferred from the nature of
uncivilized men that they must have set out from a state of
violence. To prosecute such an inquiry in the intention of finding a
pretext for altering the existing constitution by violence is no
less than penal. For such a mode of alteration would amount to
revolution, that could only be carried out by an insurrection of the
people, and
not by constitutional modes of legislation. But insurrection against
an already existing constitution, is an overthrow of all civil and
juridical relations, and of right generally; and hence it is not a
mere alteration of the civil constitution, but a dissolution of it. It
would thus form a mode of transition to a better constitution by
palingenesis and not by mere metamorphosis; and it would require a new
social contract, upon which the former original contract, as then
annulled, would have no influence.
It must, however, be possible for the sovereign to change the
existing constitution, if it is not actually consistent with the
idea of the original contract. In doing so it is essential to give
existence to that form of government which will properly constitute
the people into a state. Such a change cannot be made by the state
deliberately altering its constitution from one of the three forms
to one of the other two. For example, political changes should not
be carried out by the aristocrats combining to subject themselves to
an autocracy, or resolving to fuse all into a democracy, or
conversely; as if it depended on the arbitrary choice and liking of
the sovereign what constitution he may impose on the people. For, even
if as sovereign he resolved to alter the constitution into a
democracy, he might be doing wrong to the people, because they might
hold such a constitution in abhorrence, and regard either of the other
two as more suitable to them in the circumstances.
The forms of the state are only the letter (littera) of the original
constitution in the civil union; and they may therefore remain so long
as they are considered, from ancient and long habit (and therefore
only subjectively), to be necessary to the machinery of the
political constitution. But the spirit of that original contract
(anima pacti originarii) contains and imposes the obligation on the
constituting power to make the mode of the government conformable to
its idea; and, if this cannot be effected at once, to change it
gradually and continuously till it harmonize in its working with the
only rightful constitution, which is that of a pure republic. Thus the
old empirical and statutory forms, which serve only to effect the
political subjection of the people, will be resolved into the original
and rational forms which alone take freedom as their principle, and
even as the condition of all compulsion and constraint. Compulsion
is in fact requisite for the realization of a juridical
constitution, according to the proper idea of the state; and it will
lead at last to the realization of that idea, even according to the
letter. This is the only enduring political constitution, as in it the
law is itself sovereign, and is no longer attached to a particular
person. This is the ultimate end of all public right, and the state in
which every citizen can have what is his own peremptorily assigned
to him. But so long as the form of the state has to be represented,
according to the letter, by many different moral persons invested with
the supreme power, there can only be a provisory internal right, and
not an absolutely juridical state of civil society.
Every true republic is and can only be constituted by a
representative system of the people. Such a representative system is
instituted in name of the people, and is constituted by all the
citizens being united together, in order, by means of their
deputies, to protect and secure their rights. But as soon as a supreme
head of the state in person- be it as king, or nobility, or the
whole body of the people in a democratic union- becomes also
representative, the united people then does not merely represent the
sovereignty; but they are themselves sovereign. It is in the people
that the supreme power originally resides, and it is accordingly
from this power that all the rights of individual citizens as mere
subjects, and especially as officials of the state, must be derived.
When the sovereignty of the people themselves is thus realized, the
republic is established; and it is no longer necessary to give up
the reins of government into the hands of those by whom they have been
hitherto held, especially as they might again destroy all the new
institutions by their arbitrary and absolute will.

It was therefore a great error in judgement on the part of a
powerful ruler in our time, when he tried to extricate himself from
the embarrassment arising from great public debts, by transferring
this burden to the people, and leaving them to undertake and
distribute them among themselves as they might best think fit. It thus
became natural that the legislative power, not only in respect of
the taxation of the subjects, but in respect of the government, should
come into the hands of the people. It was requisite that they should
be able to prevent the incurring of new debts by extravagance or
war; and in consequence, the supreme power of the monarch entirely
disappeared, not by being merely suspended, but by passing over in
fact to the people, to whose legislative will the property of every
subject thus became subjected. Nor can it be said that a tacit and yet
obligatory promise must be assumed as having, under such
circumstances, been given by the national assembly, not to
constitute themselves into a sovereignty, but only to administer the
affairs of the sovereign for the time, and after this was done to
deliver the reins of the government again into the monarch's hands.
Such a supposed contract would be null and void. The right of the
supreme legislation in the commonwealth is not an alienable right, but
is the most personal of all rights. Whoever possesses it can only
dispose by the collective will of the people, in respect of the
people; he cannot dispose in respect of the collective will itself,
which is the ultimate foundation of all public contracts. A
contract, by which the people would be bound to give back their
authority again, would not be consistent with their position as a
legislative power, and yet it would be made binding upon the people;
which, on the principle that "No one can serve two masters," is a

II. The Right of Nations and International Law.
(Jus Gentium).
53. Nature and Division of the Right of Nations.

The individuals, who make up a people, may be regarded as natives of
the country sprung by natural descent from a common ancestry
(congeniti), although this may not hold entirely true in detail.
Again, they may be viewed according to the intellectual and
juridical relation, as born of a common political mother, the
republic, so that they constitute, as it were, a public family or
nation (gens, natio) whose members are all related to each other as
citizens of the state. As members of a state, they do not mix with
those who live beside them in the state of nature, considering such to
be ignoble. Yet these savages, on account of the lawless freedom
they have chosen, regard themselves as superior to civilized
peoples; and they constitute tribes and even races, but not states.
The public right of states (jus publicum civitatum), in their
relations to one another, is what we have to consider under the
designation of the "right of nations." Wherever a state, viewed as a
moral person, acts in relation to another existing in the condition of
natural freedom, and consequently in a state of continual war, such
right takes it rise.
The right of nations in relation to the state of war may be
divided into: 1. the right of going to war; 2. right during war; and
3. right after war, the object of which is to constrain the nations
mutually to pass from this state of war and to found a common
constitution establishing perpetual peace. The difference between
the right of individual men or families as related to each other in
the state of nature, and the right of the nations among themselves,
consists in this, that in the right of nations we have to consider not
merely a relation of one state to another as a whole, but also the
relation of the individual persons in one state to the individuals
of another state, as well as to that state as a whole. This
difference, however, between the right of nations and the right of
individuals in the mere state of nature, requires to be determined
by elements which can easily be deduced from the conception of the

54. Elements of the Right of Nations.

The elements of the right of nations are as follows:
1. States, viewed as nations, in their external relations to one
another- like lawless savages- are naturally in a non-juridical
2. This natural condition is a state of war in which the right of
the stronger prevails; and although it may not in fact be always found
as a state of actual war and incessant hostility, and although no real
wrong is done to any one therein, yet the condition is wrong in itself
in the highest degree, and the nations which form states contiguous to
each other are bound mutually to pass out of it;
3. An alliance of nations, in accordance with the idea of an
original social contract, is necessary to protect each other against
external aggression and attack, but not involving interference with
their several internal difficulties and disputes;
4. This mutual connection by alliance must dispense with a
distinct sovereign power, such as is set up in the civil constitution;
it can only take the form of a federation, which as such may be
revoked on any occasion, and must consequently be renewed from time to
This is therefore a right which comes in as an accessory (in
subsidium) of another original right, in order to prevent the
nations from falling from right and lapsing into the state of actual
war with each other. It thus issues in the idea of a foedus

55. Right of Going to War as related to the
Subjects of the State.

We have then to consider, in the first place, the original right
of free states to go to war with each other as being still in a
state of nature, but as exercising this right in order to establish
some condition of society approaching the juridical And, first of all,
the question arises as to what right the state has in relation to
its own subjects, to use them in order to make war against other
states, to employ their property and even their lives for this
purpose, or at least to expose them to hazard and danger; and all this
in such a way that it does not depend upon their own personal
judgement whether they will march into the field of war or not, but
the supreme command of the sovereign claims to settle and dispose of
them thus.
This right appears capable of being easily established. It may be
grounded upon the right which every one has to do with what is his own
as he will. Whatever one has made substantially for himself, he
holds as his incontestable property. The following, then, is such a
deduction as a mere jurist would put forward.
There are various natural products in a country which, as regards
the number and quantity in which they exist, must be considered as
specially produced (artefacta) by the work of the state; for the
country would not yield them to such extent were it not under the
constitution of the state and its regular administrative government,
or if the inhabitants were still living in the state of nature. Sheep,
cattle, domestic fowl the most useful of their kind- swine, and such
like, would either be used up as necessary food or destroyed by beasts
of prey in the district in which I live, so that they would entirely
disappear, or be found in very scant supplies, were it not for the
government securing to the inhabitants their acquisitions and
property. This holds likewise of the population itself, as we see in
the case of the American deserts; and even were the greatest
industry applied in those regions- which is not yet done- there
might be but a scanty population. The inhabitants of any country would
be but sparsely sown here and there were it not for the protection
of government; because without it they could not spread themselves
with their households upon a territory which was always in danger of
being devastated by enemies or by wild beasts of prey; and further, so
great a multitude of men as now live in any one country could not
otherwise obtain sufficient means of support. Hence, as it can be said
of vegetable growths, such as potatoes, as well as of domesticated
animals, that because the abundance in which they are found is a
product of human labour, they may be used, destroyed, and consumed
by man; so it seems that it may be said of the sovereign, as the
supreme power in the state, that he has the right to lead his
subjects, as being for the most part productions of his own, to war,
as if it were to the chase, and even to march them to the field of
battle, as if it were on a pleasure excursion.
This principle of right may be supposed to float dimly before the
mind of the monarch, and it certainly holds true at least of the lower
animals which may become the property of man. But such a principle
will not at all apply to men, especially when viewed as citizens who
must be regarded as members of the state, with a share in the
legislation, and not merely as means for others but as ends in
themselves. As such they must give their free consent, through their
representatives, not only to the carrying on of war generally, but
to every separate declaration of war; and it is only under this
limiting condition that the state has a right to demand their services
in undertakings so full of danger.
We would therefore deduce this right rather from the duty of the
sovereign to the people than conversely. Under this relation, the
people must be regarded as having given their sanction; and, having
the right of voting, they may be considered, although thus passive
in reference to themselves individually, to be active in so far as
they represent the sovereignty itself.

56. Right of Going to War in relation
to Hostile States.

Viewed as in the state of nature, the right of nations to go to
war and to carry on hostilities is the legitimate way by which they
prosecute their rights by their own power when they regard
themselves as injured; and this is done because in that state the
method of a juridical process, although the only one proper to
settle such disputes, cannot be adopted.
The threatening of war is to be distinguished from the active injury
of a first aggression, which again is distinguished from the general
outbreak of hostilities. A threat or menace may be given by the active
preparation of armaments, upon which a right of prevention (jus
praeventionis) is founded on the other side, or merely by the
formidable increase of the power of another state (potestas
tremenda) by acquisition of territory. Lesion of a less powerful
country may be involved merely in the condition of a more powerful
neighbour prior to any action at all; and in the state of nature an
attack under such circumstances would be warrantable. This
international relation is the foundation of the right of
equilibrium, or of the "balance of power," among all the states that
are in active contiguity to each other.
The right to go to war is constituted by any overt act of injury.
This includes any arbitrary retaliation or act of reprisal
(retorsio) as a satisfaction taken by one people for an offence
committed by another, without any attempt being made to obtain
reparation in a peaceful way. Such an act of retaliation would be
similar in kind to an outbreak of hostilities without a previous
declaration of war. For if there is to be any right at all during
the state of war, something analogous to a contract must be assumed,
involving acceptance on the side of the declaration on the other,
and amounting to the fact that they both will to seek their right in
this way.

57. Right during War.

The determination of what constitutes right in war, is the most
difficult problem of the right of nations and international law. It is
very difficult even to form a conception of such a right, or to
think of any law in this lawless state without falling into a
contradiction. Inter arma silent leges.* It must then be just the
right to carry on war according to such principles as render it always
still possible to pass out of that natural condition of the states
in their external relations to each other, and to enter into a
condition of right.

*["In the midst of arms the laws are silent." Cicero.]

No war of independent states against each other can rightly be a war
of punishment (bellum punitivum). For punishment is only in place
under the relation of a superior (imperantis) to a subject (subditum);
and this is not the relation of the states to one another. Neither can
an international war be "a war of extermination" (bellum
internicinum), nor even "a war of subjugation" (bellum subjugatorium);
for this would issue in the moral extinction of a state by its
people being either fused into one mass with the conquering state,
or being reduced to slavery. Not that this necessary means of
attaining to a condition of peace is itself contradictory to the right
of a state; but because the idea of the right of nations includes
merely the conception of an antagonism that is in accordance with
principles of external freedom, in order that the state may maintain
what is properly its own, but not that it may acquire a condition
which, from the aggrandizement of its power, might become
threatening to other states.
Defensive measures and means of all kinds are allowable to a state
that is forced to war, except such as by their use would make the
subjects using them unfit to be citizens; for the state would thus
make itself unfit to be regarded as a person capable of
participating in equal rights in the international relations according
to the right of nations. Among these forbidden means are to be
reckoned the appointment of subjects to act as spies, or engaging
subjects or even strangers to act as assassins, or poisoners (in which
class might well be included the so called sharpshooters who lurk in
ambush for individuals), or even employing agents to spread false
news. In a word, it is forbidden to use any such malignant and
perfidious means as would destroy the confidence which would be
requisite to establish a lasting peace thereafter.
It is permissible in war to impose exactions and contributions
upon a conquered enemy; but it is not legitimate to plunder the people
in the way of forcibly depriving individuals of their property. For
this would be robbery, seeing it was not the conquered people but
the state under whose government they were placed that carried on
the war by means of them. All exactions should be raised by regular
requisition, and receipts ought to be given for them, in order that
when peace is restored the burden imposed on the country or the
province may be proportionately borne.

58. Right after War.

The right that follows after war, begins at the moment of the treaty
of peace and refers to the consequences of the war. The conqueror lays
down the conditions under which he will agree with the conquered power
to form the conclusion of peace. Treaties are drawn up; not indeed
according to any right that it pertains to him to protect, on
account of an alleged lesion by his opponent, but as taking this
question upon himself, he bases the right to decide it upon his own
power. Hence the conqueror may not demand restitution of the cost of
the war; because he would then have to declare the war of his opponent
to be unjust. And even although he should adopt such an argument, he
is not entitled to apply it; because he would have to declare the
war to be punitive, and he would thus in turn inflict an injury. To
this right belongs also the exchange of prisoners, which is to be
carried out without ransom and without regard to equality of numbers.
Neither the conquered state nor its subjects lose their political
liberty by conquest of the country, so as that the former should be
degraded to a colony, or the latter to slaves; for otherwise it
would have been a penal war, which is contradictory in itself. A
colony or a province is constituted by a people which has its own
constitution, legislation, and territory, where persons belonging to
another state are merely strangers, but which is nevertheless
subject to the supreme executive power of another state. This other
state is called the mother-country. It is ruled as a daughter, but has
at the same time its own form of government, as in a separate
parliament under the presidency of a viceroy (civitas hybrida). Such
was Athens in relation to different islands; and such is at present
(1796) the relation of Great Britain to Ireland.
Still less can slavery be deduced as a rightful institution, from
the conquest of a people in war; for this would assume that the war
was of a punitive nature. And least of all can a basis be found in war
for a hereditary slavery, which is absurd in itself, since guilt
cannot be inherited from the criminality of another.
Further, that an amnesty is involved in the conclusion of a treaty
of peace is already implied in the very idea of a peace.

59. The Rights of Peace.

The rights of peace are:
1. The right to be in peace when war is in the neighbourhood, or the
right of neutrality.
2. The right to have peace secured so that it may continue when it
has been concluded, that is, the right of guarantee.
3. The right of the several states to enter into a mutual
alliance, so as to defend themselves in common against all external or
even internal attacks. This right of federation, however, does not
extend to the formation of any league for external aggression or
internal aggrandizement.

60. Right as against an Unjust Enemy.

The right of a state against an unjust enemy has no limits, at least
in respect of quality as distinguished from quantity or degree. In
other words, the injured state may use- not, indeed any means, but
yet- all those means that are permissible and in reasonable measure in
so far as they are in its power, in order to assert its right to
what is its own. But what then is an unjust enemy according to the
conceptions of the right of nations, when, as holds generally of the
state of nature, every state is judge in its own cause? It is one
whose publicly expressed will, whether in word or deed, betrays a
maxim which, if it were taken as a universal rule, would make a
state of peace among the nations impossible, and would necessarily
perpetuate the state of nature. Such is the violation of public
treaties, with regard to which it may be assumed that any such
violation concerns all nations by threatening their freedom, and
that they are thus summoned to unite against such a wrong and to
take away the power of committing it. But this does not include the
right to partition and appropriate the country, so as to make a
state as it were disappear from the earth; for this would be an
injustice to the people of that state, who cannot lose their
original right to unite into a commonwealth, and to adopt such a new
constitution as by its nature would be unfavourable to the inclination
for war.
Further, it may be said that the expression "an unjust enemy in
the state of nature" is pleonastic; for the state of nature is
itself a state of injustice. A just enemy would be one to whom I would
do wrong in offering resistance; but such a one would really not be my

61. Perpetual Peace and a Permanent Congress of Nations.

The natural state of nations as well as of individual men is a state
which it is a duty to pass out of, in order to enter into a legal
state. Hence, before this transition occurs, all the right of
nations and all the external property of states acquirable or
maintainable by war are merely provisory; and they can only become
peremptory in a universal union of states analogous to that by which a
nation becomes a state. It is thus only that a real state of peace
could be established. But with the too great extension of such a union
of states over vast regions, any government of it, and consequently
the protection of its individual members, must at last become
impossible; and thus a multitude of such corporations would again
bring round a state of war. Hence the perpetual peace, which is the
ultimate end of all the right of nations, becomes in fact an
impracticable idea. The political principles, however, which aim at
such an end, and which enjoin the formation of such unions among the
states as may promote a continuous approximation to a perpetual peace,
are not impracticable; they are as practicable as this approximation
itself, which is a practical problem involving a duty, and founded
upon the right of individual men and states.
Such a union of states, in order to maintain peace, may be called
a permanent congress of nations; and it is free to every
neighbouring state to join in it. A union of this kind, so far at
least as regards the formalities of the right of nations in respect of
the preservation of peace, was presented in the first half of this
century, in the Assembly of the States-General at the Hague. In this
Assembly most of the European courts, and even the smallest republics,
brought forward their complaints about the hostilities which were
carried on by the one against the other. Thus the whole of Europe
appeared like a single federated state, accepted as umpire by the
several nations in their public differences. But in place of this
agreement, the right of nations afterwards survived only in books;
it disappeared from the cabinets, or, after force had been already
used, it was relegated in the form of theoretical deductions to the
obscurity of archives.
By such a congress is here meant only a voluntary combination of
different states that would be dissoluble at any time, and not such
a union as is embodied in the United States of America, founded upon a
political constitution, and therefore indissoluble. It is only by a
congress of this kind that the idea of a public right of nations can
be established, and that the settlement of their differences by the
mode of a civil process, and not by the barbarous means of war, can be

III. The Universal Right of Mankind.
(Jus Cosmopoliticum)
62. Nature and Conditions of Cosmopolitical Right.

The rational idea of a universal, peaceful, if not yet friendly,
union of all the nations upon the earth that may come into active
relations with each other, is a juridical principle, as
distinguished from philanthropic or ethical principles. Nature has
enclosed them altogether within definite boundaries, in virtue of
the spherical form of their abode as a globus terraqueus; and the
possession of the soil upon which an inhabitant of the earth may
live can only be regarded as possession of a part of a limited whole
and, consequently, as a part to which every one has originally a
right. Hence all nations originally hold a community of the soil,
but not a juridical community of possession (communio), nor
consequently of the use or proprietorship of the soil, but only of a
possible physical intercourse (commercium) by means of it. In other
words, they are placed in such thoroughgoing relations of each to
all the rest that they may claim to enter into intercourse with one
another, and they have a right to make an attempt in this direction,
while a foreign nation would not be entitled to treat them on this
account as enemies. This right, in so far as it relates to a
possible union of all nations, in respect of certain laws
universally regulating their intercourse with each other, may be
called "cosmopolitical right" (jus cosmopoliticum).
It may appear that seas put nations out of all communion with each
other. But this is not so; for by means of commerce, seas form the
happiest natural provision for their intercourse. And the more there
are of neighbouring coastlands, as in the case of the Mediterranean
Sea, this intercourse becomes the more animated. And hence
communications with such lands, especially where there are settlements
upon them connected with the mother countries giving occasion for such
communications, bring it about that evil and violence committed in one
place of our globe are felt in all. Such possible abuse cannot,
however, annul the right of man as a citizen of the world to attempt
to enter into communion with all others, and for this purpose to visit
all the regions of the earth, although this does not constitute a
right of settlement upon the territory of another people (jus
incolatus), for which a special contract is required.
But the question is raised as to whether, in the case of newly
discovered countries, a people may claim the right to settle
(accolatus), and to occupy possessions in the neighbourhood of another
people that has already settled in that region; and to do this without
their consent.
Such a right is indubitable, if the new settlement takes place at
such a distance from the seat of the former that neither would
restrict or injure the other in the use of their territory. But in the
case of nomadic peoples, or tribes of shepherds and hunters (such as
the Hottentots, the Tungusi, and most of the American Indians),
whose support is derived from wide desert tracts, such occupation
should never take place by force, but only by contract; and any such
contract ought never to take advantage of the ignorance of the
original dwellers in regard to the cession of their lands. Yet it is
commonly alleged that such acts of violent appropriation may be
justified as subserving the general good of the world. It appears as
if sufficiently justifying grounds were furnished for them, partly
by reference to the civilization of barbarous peoples (as by a pretext
of this kind even Busching tries to excuse the bloody introduction
of the Christian religion into Germany), and partly by founding upon
the necessity of purging one's own country from depraved criminals,
and the hope of their improvement or that of their posterity, in
another continent like New Holland. But all these alleged good
purposes cannot wash out the stain of injustice in the means
employed to attain them. It may be objected that, had such
scrupulousness about making a beginning in founding a legal state with
force been always maintained, the whole earth would still have been in
a state of lawlessness. But such an objection would as little annul
the conditions of right in question as the pretext of the political
revolutionaries that, when a constitution has become degenerate, it
belongs to the people to transform it by force. This would amount
generally to being unjust once and for all, in order thereafter to
found justice the more surely, and to make it flourish.

If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it
is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he
may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or other
of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the
practical point of view. In other words, a hypothesis may be
accepted either in order to explain a certain phenomenon (as in
astronomy to account for the retrogression and stationariness of the
planets), or in order to attain a certain end, which again may be
either pragmatic, as belonging merely to the sphere of art, or
moral, as involving a purpose which it is a duty to adopt as a maxim
of action. Now it is evident that the assumption (suppositio) of the
practicability of such an end, though presented merely as a
theoretical and problematical judgement, may be regarded as
constituting a duty; and hence it is so regarded in this case. For
although there may be no positive obligation to believe in such an
end, yet even if there were not the least theoretical probability of
action being carried out in accordance with it, so long as its
impossibility cannot be demonstrated, there still remains a duty
incumbent upon us with regard to it.
Now, as a matter of fact, the morally practical reason utters within
us its irrevocable veto: There shall be no war. So there ought to be
no war, neither between me and you in the condition of nature, nor
between us as members of states which, although internally in a
condition of law, are still externally in their relation to each other
in a condition of lawlessness; for this is not the way by which any
one should prosecute his right. Hence the question no longer is as
to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or
as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the
former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being
real. We must work for what may perhaps not be realized, and establish
that constitution which yet seems best adapted to bring it about
(mayhap republicanism in all states, together and separately). And
thus we may put an end to the evil of wars, which have been the
chief interest of the internal arrangements of all the states
without exception. And although the realization of this purpose may
always remain but a pious wish, yet we do certainly not deceive
ourselves in adopting the maxim of action that will guide us in
working incessantly for it; for it is a duty to do this. To suppose
that the moral law within us is itself deceptive, would be
sufficient to excite the horrible wish rather to be deprived of all
reason than to live under such deception, and even to see oneself,
according to such principles, degraded like the lower animals to the
level of the mechanical play of nature.
It may be said that the universal and lasting establishment of peace
constitutes not merely a part, but the whole final purpose and end
of the science of right as viewed within the limits of reason. The
state of peace is the only condition of the mine and thine that is
secured and guaranteed by laws in the relationship of men living in
numbers contiguous to each other, and who are thus combined in a
constitution whose rule is derived not from the mere experience of
those who have found it the best as a normal guide for others, but
which must be taken by the reason a priori from the ideal of a
juridical union of men under public laws generally. For all particular
examples or instances, being able only to furnish illustration but not
proof, are deceptive, and at all events require a metaphysic to
establish them by its necessary principles. And this is conceded
indirectly even by those who turn metaphysics into ridicule, when they
say, as they often do: "The best constitution is that in which not men
but laws exercise the power." For what can be more metaphysically
sublime in its own way than this very idea of theirs, which
according to their own assertion has, notwithstanding, the most
objective reality? This may be easily shown by reference to actual
instances. And it is this very idea, which alone can be carried out
practically, if it is not forced on in a revolutionary and sudden
way by violent overthrow of the existing defective constitution; for
this would produce for the time the momentary annihilation of the
whole juridical state of society. But if the idea is carried forward
by gradual reform and in accordance with fixed principles, it may lead
by a continuous approximation to the highest political good, and to
perpetual peace.



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