Renate Holub provides a critical introduction to the philosophical foundations of human rights as developed by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico [1668-1744]. She demonstrate the profoundly innovative principles he contributed to and his contemporary relevance for a global theory of justice.
Leading twentieth century transatlantic intellectuals, like Joseph Schumpeter, Arthur Nussbaum, Robert Cox who, though for quite different ultimate purposes, were variably working at the intersections between sociology, economic analysis, and international legal thought, squarely recognized the gravitas of the unprecedented conceptual reach of the principles governing Vico’s social science. What is central to Vico’s international philosophy is an understanding of civilizational history not marked by permanent violence between individuals or groups of people. Rather, it is an understanding which outlines a broad historical tendency towards the reduction of violence in the internal and external organizations of social relations of peoples in all global regions. Vico’s political thought developed significant elements for a global theory of justice based not on legitimations of violence, as ‘just war’ theories, but for structuring, however minimally, the conditions of ‘permanent just global peace.’