Volume 97, Issue 3, Summer 2023
Suárez’s Republic of Demons
Could There Be an Obligation to Do Evil?
Suárez was probably the first theologian to propose a political understanding of the order of subordination among the demons. According to Aquinas, this subordination immediately reflects the natural differences in perfection between the demons. Suárez charged that a natural-based order of demonic subordination could not ground the capacity of the demons’ ruler—Lucifer—to use his power to impose civic obligations on fellow demons so as to pursue their joint evil goals. But can there be obligations ad malum? This paper explores a number of possible paths seemingly available to Suárez to defend his controversial view. I argue that the most promising interpretation of Suárez is one according to which the obligations created by Lucifer’s commands are not obligations in conscience but rather what we may call “non-moral obligations.”