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Jefferson, Thomas

  1. Brian E. Butler

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee426

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Butler, B. E. 2013. Jefferson, Thomas. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) occupies a significant place in history as the most clear and forceful advocate of a universal ethics based on a mix of natural law (see Natural Law) and human rights (see Rights). He is unique among political theorists in his ability to translate such ideas into action. Jefferson is also the most famous American historical figure to represent a localized and agrarian ethics and to advocate a state's right of constitutional nullification. Finally, the various aspects of Jefferson's life are difficult to harmonize – it has therefore been argued that his life and his projects show the ethical ambiguities of the United States in stark relief.


  • ethics;
  • legal and political