Responsible Researcher

Prof. Dr. Thomas Duve
Thomas Duve
Phone: +49 (69) 789 78 - 165
Fax: +49 (69) 789 78 - 211

Research Project | Department II

Morality, Law and Canon Law

Normative Economies in Early Modern Hispanic-America

It is well known that the early modern legal history of Hispanic-America can only be understood from the context of the interplay of various normative spheres; ones that the contemporary observer usually separates: secular law, Canon law, the normative moral(theological) imperatives, not to mention the realm of conventions, which are broadly construed and difficult to distinguish from said norms. In other words, we are dealing with a forgone world that can only be grasped from its ‘multinormativity’.

And yet, how can we come to better understand this interplay of the various normative spheres? The early modern culture of jurisdiction and the legal-cultural practices, the weighing different authorities against one another, all contributed to a situation where secular actors, perhaps, sometime appealed to secular law and other times to Church law or moral imperatives, Church institutions, and then later, again, to secular law or the like. The legal venue and the choice of law, to use the more contemporary terminology, were not necessarily connected with one another. Even the conventions, which influence the actions of actors, could very well be different in the respective epistemic communities.

Perhaps it is for this reason that a point of access other than the distinction between institutions and normative spheres might be helpful. If we assume that individuals and societies have the need to establish a normative foundation as the basis for living together, then it would seem appropriate to ask how this need can be satisfied. Which resources are available, and which are not? Do we observe a mobilisation of specific resources because others appear too weak? – These reflections, which are summarised by the concept “Economy of the Normative”, are part of the larger project “Knowledge of the pragmatici”.

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