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Slavery, World

Slavery was a near-universal feature of human societies from the emergence of agriculture until its near disappearance between 1770 and 1880. As such, it has played an essential role for millennia, and its complete loss of legitimacy and disappearance in practice is one of the most significant of the changes that mark the advent of modernity. Before the later 18th century, many thinkers defended slavery as a natural institution that was beneficial, at least for some people. Aristotle held this view, for example. Many Christian and Muslim thinkers defended it on scriptural grounds. Others deprecated slavery and saw it as regrettable or tried to limit its extent. Thus, some Christian and Muslim thinkers tended to argue that, although slavery as such was legitimate, it was ...

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