by reference to

okanf

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Hi,

I have a question for you.

"This latter branch had, since Hugo Grotius, emancipated itself from the church, but it had advanced no farther than to substitute for the will of God, to which formerly right and wrong had been traced, the principle of human nature, and to found upon the social instincts of man a system of natural law,—an ideal jurisprudential state by reference to which positive laws were tested in respect of their conformity with the ideally right and the ideally wrong."

I am not sure about the meaning of the "by reference to" part in this sentence. Can you explain this to me please?

The source: "Ethnological Jurisprudence" The Monist, Albert Hermann Post. https://archive.org/details/sim_monist_1891-10_2_1/page/30/mode/2up (on page 31)
 
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Tarheel

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I think the it refers to natural law.
 

jutfrank

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It means something akin to 'with respect to'. Look at the other cases of this author's use of by reference to to get an idea of the logic:

In a word, then (without attempting to show the insufficiency of inductive logic as the theory of science by reference to its treatment of specific points) inductive logic does not ...

But in Kant’s case, the justification of the principle of causality by reference to the possibility of experience means that thought must continually inject this principle of experience to keep it from disappearing ...

Having made that assumption and inferred the existence of God from that of the human spirit, the author explains the nature of the one by reference to that of the other.
 
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