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The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 19, 1999

Scott Davis
Pages 193-212
DOI: 10.5840/asce19991911

Humanist Ethics and Political Justice
Soto, Sepúlveda, and the "Affair of the Indies"

In the debate over Spanish treatment of the natives of the New World, both sides regularly invoked Aristotle on natural slaves. This paper argues that the interpretation of the Spanish Dominican Domingo de Soto displays a greater understanding of Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition of justice than that of Juan Gines de Sepúlveda, the Spanish Humanist. The paper goes on to argue that it is the humanist tradition itself that disposes Sepúlveda to misconstrue Aristotle and the tradition of political justice.