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κατασκευάζειν] is a technical term of dialectics, denoting the constructive process and object of argumentation or syllogism, viz. to establish some positive conclusion, to maintain or confirm a thesis; and opposed to ἀνασκευάζειν, which represents the ‘subversive’, ‘destructive’ (ἀνασκευάζειν ‘to undo’, comp. λύειν ‘to break up, or dissolve a thing into its elements’), ‘refutative’ syllogism or reasoning which proves a negative. On these terms see further in Introd. p. 268, and note (on p. 267) on the same page.

‘Now in regard of establishing their credit or discrediting them, the treatment of this in no respect differs from that of the witnesses; for according to the character of those whose names are attached to, subscribed to, (inscribed upon, as ἐπίγραμμα, the title of a crime or a legal prosecution, I 13. 9,) the document, or contract, or who have it in their keeping, the measure (degree) of credit or trustworthiness of the contract is determined (lit. by them are the contracts made trustworthy)’.

τούτοις πισταί] is a somewhat irregular expression, meaning τοσούτῳ πιστοτέραι εἰσὶν αἱ συνθῆκαι or τοιαῦται καὶ αἱ συνθῆκαι τῷ πισταὶ εἶναι.

The degree of integrity of those who have the document in their custody is a measure of the probability of its having been tampered with or not.

‘The existence of the contract being admitted, if the document be our own (§ 26), we must magnify it (cry it up; increase, exaggerate, its value and importance); for the contract (we may say) is a law, special and partial; and it is not the contracts that give authority, or validity, to the law, but the laws to the contracts which are made in conformity with them (legally)’. Either of these arguments may be urged to shew that a covenant has the sanction of law, and shares its authority. ‘And, speaking generally, the law itself is a kind of contract, and therefore any one who violates (disobeys) the provisions (understand συνθήκῃ after ἀπιστεῖ) of a contract or makes away with it, is in fact subverting, doing away with, the laws’. This doctrine has already been stated in other words, c. 13. 2, νόμον...ἴδιον μὲν τὸν ἑκάστοις ὡρισμένον πρὸς αὑτούς. This is therefore the positive, written, local or national law, varying in different societies, and enacted by each of them severally for mutual convenience, under an implied contract to observe and maintain them.

Analogous to this view of law as a contract is the theory, in Politics, of the Social Contract, which has been maintained by Locke, Rousseau, and many others. This view of the origin of the social organization and of government, is founded upon the natural freedom and equality of men; and assumes a common agreement amongst the members of a state to live and act together for purposes of self-defence and mutual advantage in obedience to laws and an executive authority which the theory supposes to have emanated originally from themselves, and to be invalid without their consent. Similar to this are the ‘laws of war’, which give the conqueror certain rights over the conquered, amongst them that of enslaving, and result from a sort of international compact, or universal agreement. Polit. 16, sub init. γὰρ νόμος ὁμολογία τίς ἐστιν, ἐν τὰ κατὰ πόλεμον κρατούμενα τῶν κρατούντων εἶναι φασίν. Compare also Pol. III 9, 1280 b 10 seq. καὶ νόμος συνθήκη, καὶ καθάπερ ἔφη Λυκόφρων σοφιστής, ἐγγυητὴς ἀλλήλοις τῶν δικαίων, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ οἷος ποιεῖν ἀγαθοὺς καὶ δικαίους τοὺς πολίτας.

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