This noteworthy book develops a new theory of the natural law that takes its orientation from the account of the natural law developed by Thomas Aquinas, as interpreted and supplemented in the context of scholastic theology in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Though this history might seem irrelevant to twenty-first-century life, Jean Porter shows that the scholastic approach to the natural law still has much to contribute to the contemporary discussion of Christian ethics. Aquinas and his interlocutors provide a way of thinking about the natural law that is distinctively theological while at the same time remaining open to other intellectual perspectives, including those of science. In the course of her work, Porter examines the scholastics' assumptions and beliefs about nature, Aquinas's account of happiness, and the overarching claim that reason can generate moral norms. Ultimately, Porter argues that a Thomistic theory of the natural law is well suited to provide a starting point for developing a more nuanced account of the relationship between specific beliefs and practices. While Aquinas's approach to the natural law may not provide a system of ethical norms that is both universally compelling and detailed enough to be practical, it does offer something that is arguably more valuable -- namely, a way of reflecting theologically on the phenomenon of human morality.
At the centre of our ethical thought stands the human being. Roger Teichmann examines the ways in which facts about human nature determine the shape of ethical concepts such as rationality, virtue, and happiness. He argues that only by attending to the social and empirical character of language use can we address a number of problems in ethics.
Natural law, according to Thomas Aquinas, has its foundation in the evidence and operation of natural, human reason. Its primary precepts are self-evident. Awareness of these precepts does not presuppose knowledge of, or even belief in, the existence of God. The most interesting criticisms of Thomas Aquinas's natural-law teaching in modern times have been advanced by the political philosopher Leo Strauss and his followers. The purpose of this book is to show that these criticisms are based on misunderstandings and that they are inconclusive at best. Thomas Aquinas's natural-law teaching is fully rational. It is accessible to man as man.
From a variety of perspectives, the essays presented here explore the profound interdependence of natural philosophy and rational religion in the `long seventeenth century' that begins with the burning of Bruno in 1600 and ends with the Enlightenment in the early Eighteenth century. From the writings of Grotius on natural law and natural religion, and the speculative, libertin novels of Cyrano de Bergerac, to the better-known works of Descartes, Malebranche, Cudworth, Leibniz, Boyle, Spinoza, Newton, and Locke, an increasing emphasis was placed on the rational relationship between religious doctrine, natural law, and a personal divine providence. While evidence for this intrinsic relationship was to be located in different places - in the ideas already present in the mind, in the observations and experiments of the natural philosophers, and even in the history, present experience, and prophesied future of mankind - the result enabled and shaped the broader intellectual and scientific discourses of the Enlightenment.
Natural Law, Constitutionalism, Reason of State, and War: Counter-Reformation Spanish Political Thought (Volumes I and II) aims at understanding how Spanish thinkers in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries approached the emerging institution of the state. The volumes are divided evenly into four distinct but related parts that cover the Spaniards' central concerns. In the first, a fundamental question is asked: Is the state a natural institution? In the second, the theme is the best form of government. The third part is concerned with the imperative need to define the ethical boundaries beyond which the state must not trespass. Finally, the fourth part examines the question of war as an instrument of policy.
This edited volume examines the ways in which theological considerations have figured in natural law theorizing, from Plato to Spinoza. Theological considerations have long had a pronounced role in Catholic natural law theories, but have not been seriously examined from a wider perspective. The contributors to this volume take a more inclusive view of the relation between conceptions of natural law and theistic claims and principles. They do not jointly defend one particular thematic claim, but articulate diverse ways in which natural law has both been understood and related to theistic claims. In addition to exploring Plato and the Stoics, the volume also looks at medieval Jewish thought, the thought of Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham, and the ways in which Spinoza's thought includes resonances of earlier views and intimations of later developments. Taken as a whole, these essays enlarge the scope of the discussion of natural law through study of how the naturalness of natural law has often been related to theses about the divine. The latter are often crucial elements of natural law theorizing, having an integral role in accounting for the metaethical status and ethical bindingness of natural law. At the same time, the question of the relation between natural law and God — and the relation between natural law and divine command — has been addressed in a multiplicity of ways by key figures throughout the history of natural law theorizing, and these essays accord them the explanatory significance they deserve.