History of Political Thought 17 (3):354-378 (1996)

Michael Seidler
Western Kentucky University
Pufendorf's chief contribution to political thought is to be found in his dedicated effort to defend the modern state as a fundamental feature of humankind's moral development, and thus to reconcile the artificiality of civil association with its moral necessity. By exploring the state's moral character, Pufendorf helped move political discourse beyond a focus on the practical need for civil association and towards a search for a modern theory of political legitimacy, i.e., a theory that is both compelling enough to demonstrate the moral legitimacy of political authority regardless of one's religious beliefs or moral convictions, and precise enough to permit insight into the nature and limits of this authority
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