February 20, 2009
Cindy Scheopner, Sarah Mattice, Brian Lescord
TITLE: New World, Old Problems: The Lasting Legacy of Francisco de Vitoria
As Spain explored the New World, Francisco de Vitoria used his classroom at the University of Salamanca to question the treatment of Native Americans. In one of his most notable lectures, he examines the argument that the newly-discovered "Indians" are the sort of natural slaves described by Aristotle. His analysis was used in the later Disputation at Valladolid in 1550 on the "Intellectual and Religious Capacity of the American Indian". Vitoria is still cited in handbooks on Federal Indian Law in the U.S. as important to the legal status of tribes as nations. His legacy includes the role of the School of Salamanca in the development of Hispanic philosophy as a unique area of inquiry. However, some contemporary philosophers criticize the justifications he provided for Spain's exercise of colonial power and its lasting impacts.
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