A Universal Rule of Law for a Pluralist World Order: Leibniz's Universal Jurisprudence and His Praise of the Chinese Ruler

Forthcoming in Anthony Carty and Janne Nijman (eds), Morality and Responsibility of Rulers: European and Chinese origins of a rule of law as justice for world order (OUP)

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-40

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-16

30 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2016

See all articles by Janne Elisabeth Nijman

Janne Elisabeth Nijman

T.M.C. Asser Instituut; Amsterdam Center for International Law - University of Amsterdam; The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Date Written: September 16, 2016

Abstract

This chapter examines the idea of a universal rule of law in the work of early modern scholar Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He developed a theory of universal justice by which he meant to keep universal moral and political structures in place while accommodating at the same time the newly emerging sovereign states. Leibniz was committed to the idea of a rule of natural law that governed sovereign powers, and he argued that European rulers should learn from Chinese moral and political philosophy and from the Chinese emperor, who was the more successful in being the moral and responsible political ruler that the law required. Leibniz’ universal jurisprudence is not a plea for universal uniformity. His universal rule of natural law and justice is an ideal for a pluralist world. In his writings on China, there is no civilizational inferiority-superiority language nor suggestions of incommensurability. China and Europe were different yet equal and they would need each other to critically assess and perfect themselves and humanity as a whole. Leibniz’s interest in Chinese moral and political thought testifies to his conviction that natural law — grounded on justice as ‘wise charity’ — is universal and that it governs the inner life of human beings, whether sovereign or subject. If internalised through a rational practice of self-cultivation and self-perfection, the international rule of law guides and constrains acts towards the perfection of the individual self as well as towards the realisation of ‘the empire of reason’, that is, a world order based on a universal rule of natural law and justice.

Keywords: History of international law, Leibniz, rule of law, modernity, universal jurisprudence natural law, justice, China, Kang Xi emperor, pluralism

JEL Classification: K33, N40, N43, N45

Suggested Citation

Nijman, Janne Elisabeth, A Universal Rule of Law for a Pluralist World Order: Leibniz's Universal Jurisprudence and His Praise of the Chinese Ruler (September 16, 2016). Forthcoming in Anthony Carty and Janne Nijman (eds), Morality and Responsibility of Rulers: European and Chinese origins of a rule of law as justice for world order (OUP), Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-40, Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2839722 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2839722

Janne Elisabeth Nijman (Contact Author)

T.M.C. Asser Instituut ( email )

P.O. Box 30461
2500 GL The Hague, 2517JN
Netherlands

Amsterdam Center for International Law - University of Amsterdam ( email )

Amsterdam
Netherlands

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2
Geneva, 1202
Switzerland

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
121
Abstract Views
723
rank
282,217
PlumX Metrics