Francisco Suárez on consent and political obligation

Daniel Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Interpreters disagree on the origin that Francisco Suárez assigns to political obligation and correlative political subjection. According to some, Suárez, as other social contract theorists, believes that it is the consent of the individuals that causes political obligation. Others, however, claim that for Suárez, political obligation is underived from the individuals' consent which creates the city. In support of this claim they invoke Suárez's view that political power emanates from the city by way of "natural resultancy". I argue that analysis of Suárez's less studied De voto and De iuramento reveals that, for Suárez, consent causes both the city and the citizen's political obligation. Moreover, close inspection of the notion of causation by natural resultancy within Suárez's metaphysics shows that what emanates from the body politic in this fashion is not, as claimed, political subjection and political obligation, but rather the city's right to self-mastership. Because for him political obligation does originate in consent it is not incorrect to regard Suárez as a social contract theorist.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)59-81
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
75) T he research on which this article is based was made possible by a grant from ICALA Stipen-dienwerk Lateinamerika-Deutschland, and was completed with the help of an additional research grant by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain. I would like to thank for their help to Alfred Freddoso, Terence Irwin, Asher Salah, Christopher Shields, and Carlos Steel. Thanks are due also to Eduardo Arborio Mella at the library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Jerusalem and to Elizabeth Miles, Wendy Pearlman and Donald Strachan for their editorial assistance. Pablo Da Silveira and Eduardo Cassaroti at Universidad Católica del Uruguay encouraged me to embark on this research which was completed in the warm collegial environment provided by Departmento de Filosofía del Derecho, Moral y Política at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


  • Consent
  • Francisco Suarez
  • Natural resultancy
  • Political obligation
  • Political power


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