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Law: Professor Monica Garcia-Salmones publishes book on nature and natural law during the 17th century

12 July 2023 Life Members

Life Member Professor Garcia-Salmones was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall from 2017-2018, and began writing The Necessity of Nature: God, Science and Money in 17th Century English Law of Nature while in Cambridge.

The book is an attempt to spell out the transformations in the concept of nature and natural law during the 17th century and to do so capturing the mixed vocation of the main natural lawyers, such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, being at once natural scientists, economists, medical doctors, theologians, natural lawyers, and philosophers. The natural sciences and economics that we have inherited from that period constituted a world structured according to natural law that has influenced and shaped our understanding of moral natural law anew. Far from disappearing, natural law has become embedded in the very foundations of all enlightened societies.

The thesis advanced in the book reframes our understanding of Hobbes and Locke’s political theory as a reaction to radical scepticism, Neoplatonism, and the commercial spirit of England in the seventeenth century, but without ever really escaping the reach of these new ideas and worldviews. The book also introduces Robert Boyle’s important philosophical and economic work on nature. Its approach relates to natural lawyers’ naturalism and care for the public good, their medical studies, the ambiguous deconstruction of the sacred notion of nature during the Scientific Revolution, and the increasingly anxious twenty-first-century debate among scientists and lawyers about how to protect nature and curb greed globally.

Professor Garcia-Salmones reflects on her time in Clare Hall:

My time in Clare Hall was marked by the project on this book, for day after day were passed in the library or at the College doing research. What started as an investigation on theologians and their natural law, was shaped anew in Cambridge in ways that I could not have predicted before. The opportunity to reading and listening to the Cambridge historians opened to me new understandings of John Locke, and the chance to talk almost daily with the historians of science at Clare Hall prompted novel connections of topics and individuals in my brain. Thus I understood that theology was crucial for natural law, certainly, but so was the New Science as well.

-Professor Garcia-Salmones

Professor Garcia-Salmones is currently a Global Law Fellow, ICS, at the University of Navarra. Starting in August 2023, she will be an Assistant Professor of Foundations of Law at the University of Maastricht. From 2016 to 2022, she was a Senior Researcher and Associate Professor of International Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, where she also was a Post-doc from 2012 to 2016.

We wish a warm congratulations to Professor Garcia-Salmones, and all the best in her future endeavours.