Aquinas defended slavery as instituted by God in punishment for sin, and justified as being part of the ‘right of nations’ and natural law. He held that slavery could be consistent with natural law if it is imposed by positive law as punishment for crimes, and if such slavery did not violate the slave's rights to food, sleep, marriage (or celibacy), raising of their children, and religious worship (and anything else that pertains to natural law). Aquinas asserted that the children of a slave mother were rightly enslaved even though they themselves had not committed personal sin. He further argued that anyone who persuades a slave to escape is guilty of theft, because, while the slave is not himself property (a person cannot be property), his master has a right to the labor of that slave.
Nov 10th, 2014
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