Rights in Cicero's Political Philosophy

39 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 17 Aug 2010

Date Written: 2010


Although not usually regarded as an original thinker, I argue that Cicero's analysis of political society is original in consequence of his employment of Roman legal and political concepts. He draws on these concepts - especially the concept of rights found in Roman law - to develop an account of citizens' rights. These rights are not conferred by the prevailing regime and thus may provide a critical perspective on the current civil order. This account of citizens' rights distinguishes Cicero's theorizing about political society from that of Plato and Aristotle. It also challenges the widely-held view that the language of rights is a modern concept which is inextricably linked to individualistic accounts of society.

Suggested Citation

Atkins, Jed William, Rights in Cicero's Political Philosophy (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643068

Jed William Atkins (Contact Author)

Duke University ( email )

Department of Classical Studies
233 Allen Building, Box 90103
Durham, NC 27708-0103
United States

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