Sample Critical Thinking Paper on “On the Indians”

“On the Indians”

Contemporary theologians’ concurs that mankind is modeled in God’s image, and because of this, one’s dignity is not related to one’s race, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, physical ability, religion, economic status, or any other potential discriminatory factor. This was not the case in the scholastic era. This is well demonstrated in Francisco de Vitoria, De Indis (1532).

Francisco in his defense to the Indians sees them as “true masters of their land”. He offers the following arguments; 1). Barbarians people had inborn civil rights as free rational people.  The fact Indians were adamant about the Christian faith. It was not reasonable to wage war and seize their private properties on this ground. Faith is an act of the will; hence, one cannot be compelled to receive it. Fear and violence diminish voluntariness, therefore, cannot propagate the faith. 2). The pontiff ascription of titles to Indians was baseless and could not dispose of the Indians of their inalienable right as human beings. Only under four titles could Indians be deprived of “true masters” that is, if they were sinners, unbelievers, madmen, or insensate. Vitoria argues that the four titles ascribed to Indians were baseless because they had organized social, economic, legal, and religious structures. This order in their society was a clear contradiction to those titles. 3). Sinning against the natural laws and committing mortal sin is not sufficient for enslaving people.  Man is created in the image of God and as such has dominion. A mortal sin does not deprive one of his legal rights for private property and exercise of self-determination.

Francisco put forward four grounds under which barbarians could be slaves, either they were sinners, unbelievers, madmen, or insensate. Under these grounds, Indians would be slaves but he put forward propositions to indicate under no ground were they, slaves.

“True masters” cannot be a natural slaves. Natural slaves cannot own anything. However, Indians had the right to own property. Natural slaves cannot have a government of their own. Barbarians had organized government with chiefs administering legally and within a set jurisdiction. Natural slaves are deprived of adequate rational ability. Indians were endowed with adequate rational ability hence organized society in all its aspects which was manifested in their cultures.