In Debating Medieval Natural Law: A Survey, Riccardo Saccenti examines and evaluates the major lines of interpretation of the medieval concepts of natural rights and natural law within the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and explains how the major historiographical interpretations of ius naturale and lex naturalis have changed. His bibliographical survey analyzes not only the chronological evolution of various interpretations of natural law but also how they differ, in an effort to shed light on the historical debate and on the medieval roots of modern human rights theories. Saccenti critically examines the historical analyses of the major historians of medieval political and legal thought while addressing how to further research on the subject. His perspective interlaces different disciplinary points of view: history of philosophy, as well as history of canon and civil law and history of theology. By focusing on a variety of disciplines, Saccenti creates an opportunity to evaluate each interpretation of medieval lex naturalis in terms of the area it enlightens and within specific cultural contexts. His survey is a basis for future studies concerning this topic and will be of interest to scholars of the history of law and, more generally, of the history of ideas in the twentieth century.
"With exemplary scholarship, Riccardo Saccenti provides a clear and unbiased presentation of the evolution of natural law theory, practice, and interpretation from the Middle Ages to the present. His welcome and original work expands our understanding of how medieval natural law, and in particular how the relationship between natural rights and both the church and society, has been viewed by original authors and scholars. This is a valuable resource in its thorough and even-handed treatment of primary sources as well as its inclusion of the vast secondary literature." —Mark Clark, Catholic University of America