Historically, natural law has played a pivotal role in Christian approaches to the law, and a contested role in legal philosophy generally. However, comparative study of natural law across global Christian traditions is largely neglected. This book provides not only the history of natural law ideas across mainstream Christian traditions worldwide, but also an ecumenical comparison of the contemporary natural law positions of different traditions. Its focus is not solely theoretical: it tests the practical utility of natural law by exploring its use in the legal systems of the churches studied. Alongside analysis of the assumptions underlying the concept, it also proposes a jurisprudence of Christian law itself. With chapters written by distinguished lawyers and theologians across the world, this book is designed for those studying and teaching law or theology, those who practice and study ecumenism, and those involved in the practice of church law.
This edited volume examines the realizations between theological considerations and natural law theorizing, from Plato to Spinoza. Theological considerations have long had a pronounced role in Catholic natural law theories, but have not been as thoroughly 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.
This book is an examination of natural law doctrine, rooted in the classical writings of our respective three traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic. Each of the authors provides an extensive essay reflecting on natural law doctrine in his tradition. Each of the authors also provides a thoughtful response to the essays of the other two authors. Readers will gain a sense for how natural law (or cognate terms) resonated with classical thinkers such as Maimonides, Origen, Augustine, al-Ghazali and numerous others. Readers will also be instructed in how the authors think that these sources can be mined for constructive reflection on natural law today. A key theme in each essay is how the particularity of the respective religious tradition is squared with the evident universality of natural law claims. The authors also explore how natural law doctrine functions in particular traditions for reflection upon the religious other.
Today the idea of natural law as the basic ingredient in moral, legal, and political thought presents a challenge not faced for almost two hundred years. On the surface, there would appear to be little room in the contemporary world for a widespread belief in natural law. The basic philosophies of the opposition--the rationalism of the philosophes, the utilitarianism of Bentham, the materialism of Marx--appear to have made prior philosophies irrelevant. Yet these newer philosophies themselves have been overtaken by disillusionment born of conflicts between "might" and "right." Many thoughtful people who were loyal to secular belief have become dissatisfied with the lack of normative principles and have turned once more to natural law. This first book-length study of Edmund Burke and his philosophy, originally published in 1958, explores this intellectual giant's relationship to, and belief in, the natural law. It has long been thought that Edmund Burke was an enemy of the natural law, and was a proponent of conservative utilitarianism. Peter J. Stanlis shows that, on the contrary, Burke was one of the most eloquent and profound defenders of natural law morality and politics in Western civilization. A philosopher in the classical tradition of Aristotle and Cicero, and in the Scholastic tradition of Aquinas, Burke appealed to natural law in the political problems he encountered in American, Irish, Indian, and British affairs, and in reaction to the French Revolution. This book is as relevant today as it was when it was first published, and will be mandatory reading for students of philosophy, political science, law, and history.
Few political philosophers have laid such stress upon the organic and dynamic characters of human rights, rooted as they are in natural law, as did the great 20th century philosopher, Jacques Maritain. Few Christian scholars have placed such emphasis upon the influence of evangelical inspiration, or of the Gospel message, upon the temporal order as has Maritain.As this important work reveals, the philosophy of Jacques Maritain on natural law and human rights is complemented by and can only be properly understood in the light of his teaching on Christianity and democracy and their relationship. Maritain takes pains to point out that Christianity cannot be made subservient to any political form or regime, that democracy is linked to Christianity and not the other way around, and that every just regime, such as the classic forms of monarchy, aristocracy and republic, is compatible with Christianity and in it a person is able to achieve some measure of fulfillment even in the temporal order.At the same time he argues his distinctive thesis that personalist or organic democracy provides a fuller measure of freedom and fulfillment and that it emerges or begins to take shape under the inspiration of the Gospel. Even the modern democracies we do in fact have, with all their weaknesses, represent an historic gain for the person and they spring, he urges, from the very Gospel they so wantonly repudiate!
This book critically and constructively explores the resources offered for natural law doctrine by classical thinkers from three traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic. Three scholars each offer a programmatic essay on natural law doctrine in their particular religious tradition and then respond to the other two essays.
Resorting to natural law is one way of conveying the philosophical conviction that moral norms are not merely conventional rules. Accordingly, the notion of natural law has a clear metaphysical dimension, since it involves the recognition that human beings do not conceive themselves as sheer products of society and history. And yet, if natural law is to be considered the fundamental law of practical reason, it must show also some intrinsic relationship to history and positive law. The essays in this book examine this tension between the metaphysical and the practical and how the philosophical elaboration of natural law presents this notion as a "limiting-concept", between metaphysics and ethics, between the mutable and the immutable; between is and ought, and, in connection with the latter, even the tension between politics and eschatology as a double horizon of ethics. This book, contributed to by scholars from Europe and America, is a major contribution to the renewed interest in natural law. It provides the reader with a comprehensive overview of natural law, both from a historical and a systematic point of view. It ranges from the mediaeval synthesis of Aquinas through the early modern elaborations of natural law, up to current discussions on the very possibility and practical relevance of natural law theory for the contemporary mind.
The argument laid out in this book discusses and interprets the work of Hobbes in relation to religion. It compares a traditional interpretation of Hobbes where Hobbes’ use of conventional terminology when talking about natural law is seen as ironic or merely convenient despite an atheist viewpoint, with the view that Hobbes’ morality is truly traditional and Christian. The book considers other thinkers of the age in tandem with Hobbes and discusses in detail his theology inspired by corporeal mechanics. The position is that there are significant senses in which Hobbes can be said to be a traditional natural law theorist.
This book explores both historical and contemporary Christian sources and dimensions of global law and includes critical perspectives from various religious and philosophical traditions. Two dozen leading scholars discuss the constituent principles of this new global legal order historically, comparatively, and currently. The first part uses a historical-biographical approach to study a few of the major Christian architects of global law and transnational legal theory, from St. Paul to Jacques Maritain. The second part distills the deep Christian sources and dimensions of the main principles of global law, historically and today, separating out the distinct Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian contributions as appropriate. Finally, the authors address a number of pressing global issues and challenges, where a Christian-informed legal perspective can and should have deep purchase and influence. The work makes no claim that Christianity is the only historical shaper of global law, nor that it should monopolize the theory and practice of global law today. But the book does insist that Christianity, as one of the world’s great religions, has deep norms and practices, ideas and institutions, prophets and procedures that can be of benefit as the world struggles to find global legal resources to confront humanity’s greatest challenges. The volume will be an essential resource for academics and researchers working in the areas of law and religion, transnational law, legal philosophy, and legal history.