In Olivier Descamps and Rafael Domingo, eds., Great Christian Jurists in French History 358-371 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
21 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2018 Last revised: 21 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2019
French jurist Léon Duguit (1859-1928) was a theorist of the modern state and its relationship to law. His work on the nature of property and ownership, defining them as social functions, was an important step towards dismantling the conceptual wall between public and private law. He sought to apply sociological and scientific analysis to his study of law and the state. This chapter explores Duguit’s thought with particular reference to Roman Catholicism as a deeply embedded aspect of French culture. While little of his work expressly invokes Christianity, his turns towards solidarity and public service in the area of public law and his development of the social function of property in the area of private law reveal a level of concordance with Roman Catholic thought in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century France. Despite Duguit’s lack of engagement with the Church’s teachings in his scientific exploration of the state and law, his relationship to Catholicism remains difficult to determine. The Church and Christianity presented themselves to Duguit as social and political phenomena to be recognized, respected, observed, and theorized. As a good lay sociologist of law, Duguit considered the Church in his work and throughout his life.
Keywords: Duguit, solidarity, state, social function, property, Christianity, Roman Catholicism
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation