Voluntarism in the Early Modern Period? Alphonsus de Castro and his Philosophy of Law
Keywords:Alphonsus de Castro, Voluntarism, Will, Law, Francisco Suárez
This paper discusses the work of Alphonsus de Castro, one of the main sources of Francisco Suárez. Alphonsus de Castro is known among present-day scholars as “the father of criminal law”, at least of the Spanish criminal law. He elaborates a theory of justice that is usually identified as being voluntarist and contrary to the great tradition of Salamanca initiated by Francisco de Vitoria and Domingo de Soto. A detailed reading of de Castro’s work leads, however, to a different conclusion: though de Castro comes close to a decisionist stance, for example, when explaining issues such as the immutability of the natural law in view of the sacrifice of Isaac, his overall teaching is more closely related to the tradition of Salamanca than what it is usually believed. Hence, although he defines the law as a precept of the will, he does not concede absolute autonomy to the will, for it is a power that must always follow the mandates of reason in its practical exercise.