The theories discussed in the previous two chapters provide the conceptual and, to some degree, historical starting point for theories of absolute government. But while accounts of absolute government often incorporate ideas derived from natural law theory and stress the obligation of rulers to uphold natural law, they set these ideas in a framework that is distinguished by the supremacy of a sovereign power that is both absolute and unitary. Sovereigns hold all the agencies of government in their hands; they are the unquestioned and unquestionable source of law, and they claim the right to direct the lives of all those who are subject to them. To the extent that natural law directs and constrains the exercise of power, it only does so because sovereigns impose these obligations upon themselves. Their actions may be subject to divine regulation, but sovereigns cannot be regulated, judged or punished by those over whom they rule.
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