Darjes is one of those philosophers who are not afraid to dabble in many fields of philosophy. We have already seen his take on logic and some of his metaphysical views, while the current work, Institutiones jurisprudentiae universalis, belongs to the same genre as Wolff's series on natural law, first volume of which was published in the same year as Darjes's book. Unlike Wolff, Darjes manages to go through the whole of natural law and the so-called law of nations within the space of one book.
Darjes uses a similar structure in his book as earlier writers on natural law – he starts from an individual human being and moves through simple interpersonal relationships to communities and finally to a civil state. Similarly familiar is Darjes's view of what makes up the good of human beings – because humans have body and soul and external possessions, they should take care of their physical, mental and economical state.
Body, soul and possessions are something we should respect in everyone – this is the basis for human interaction in Darjes's philosophy, and it is so fundamental that it holds even in an ”absolute human condition”, that is, the so-called state of nature, in which no communities yet exist. Darjes also admits that even before creating communities humans are capable of making pacts with one another and that they are indeed obligated to hold onto them – this is what forms the beginning of trade.
Yet, pacts are not the only thing pulling humans together, Darjes says, because there are certain natural reasons for human interaction – Darjes is speaking of marital relations and parental relations, but also of relations between master ans servant. All of these relations form then natural communities, the conglomeration of which is family (one does wonder what the relationship between master and servant does in this list). In comparison, all the other communities are then just hypothetical, in other words, they are not natural, but based on some further conditions.
It is then not surprising to see Darjes expounding next the theory of civil states. He does note the possibility of several families living in a state of anarchy – in principle, anarchy means for Darjes that all families are equal to one another. The need for civil state rises then in quite a Hobbesian manner from a need for security and involves giving some people the right to govern the whole collection of families. This right to rule does not mean complete abrogation of the rights of other citizens, but it does give the rulers the necessary authority for maintaining security. Darjes think rulers have even the right to restrict the emigration of the citizens of their civil state.
Interestingly, Darjes also considers religious communities. He firstly sets them under the authority of the civil state – civil state has a right to eradicate even religious communities within its borders, if they happen to threaten its security. Furthermore, religious communities must respect the right of conscience, which means that they can't forcefully convert other people to their cause. Then again, Darjes says, a religious community and its rulers have a right to homogenize the beliefs of their members. They can't really force anyone to change their views, but they can use their representatives to expound what dogmas their creed has – and they can excommunicate people who steer too far away from these dogmas.
The final part in Darjes's book consists of the so-called law of nations or the study of relations between states. The main idea of Darjes is that states live in a condition of nature toward one another. Like in case of individuals, the state of nature does not imply completely lawless state. Instead, Darjes thinks there are certain infringible rules of conduct that must be obeyed in international affairs. Thus, a state should respect he borders of other states, hold the treaties made with other states and declare a war only when the other state has given a just cause for it.
So much for Darjes and natural law. Next time we shall be one step closer to Kant, when we for the first time meet one of his teachers.