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.
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.
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.
Has Hobbesian moral and political theory been fundamentally misinterpreted by most of his readers? Since the criticism of John Bramhall, Hobbes has generally been regarded as advancing a moral and political theory that is antithetical to classical natural law theory. Kody Cooper challenges this traditional interpretation of Hobbes in Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law. Hobbes affirms two essential theses of classical natural law theory: the capacity of practical reason to grasp intelligible goods or reasons for action and the legally binding character of the practical requirements essential to the pursuit of human flourishing. Hobbes’s novel contribution lies principally in his formulation of a thin theory of the good. This book seeks to prove that Hobbes has more in common with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of natural law philosophy than has been recognized. According to Cooper, Hobbes affirms a realistic philosophy as well as biblical revelation as the ground of his philosophical-theological anthropology and his moral and civil science. In addition, Cooper contends that Hobbes's thought, although transformative in important ways, also has important structural continuities with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of practical reason, theology, social ontology, and law. What emerges from this study is a nuanced assessment of Hobbes’s place in the natural law tradition as a formulator of natural law liberalism. This book will appeal to political theorists and philosophers and be of particular interest to Hobbes scholars and natural law theorists.
This series, originally published by Scholars Press and now available from Eerdmans, is intended to foster exploration of the religious dimensions of law, the legal dimensions of religion, and the interaction of legal and religious ideas, institutions, and methods. Written by leading scholars of law, political science, and related fields, these volumes will help meet the growing demand for literature in the burgeoning interdisciplinary study of law and religion.
The study of natural law theories is presently one of the most fruitful areas of research in the studies of early modern intellectual history, and moral and political theory. Likewise the historical significance of the Enlightenment for the development of `modernisation' in many different forms continues to be the subject of controversy. This collection therefore offers a timely opportunity to re-examine both the coherence of the concept of an `early Enlightenment', and the specific contribution of natural law theories to its formation. The works of major thinkers such as Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Malebranche, Pufendorf and Thomasius are reassessed, and the appeal and importance of the discourse of natural jurisprudence both to those working inside conventional educational and political structures and to those outside - such as in the Huguenot diaspora - is evaluated. This volume will therefore be of importance to all those readers concerned to study the character of the debates in the period 1650-1750 surrounding moral and political agency, sovereignty and obligation, and the legitimation of religious toleration in the divergent states and patriotic contexts of Europe.
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.
"With keen insight into the common law mind, Edlin argues that there are rich resources within the law for judges to ground their opposition to morally outrageous laws, and a legal obligation on them to overturn it, consequent on the general common law obligation to develop the law. Thus, seriously unjust laws pose for common law judges a dilemma within the law, not just a moral challenge to the law, a conflict of obligations, not just a crisis of conscience. While rooted firmly in the history of common law jurisprudence, Edlin offers an entirely fresh perspective on an age-old jurisprudential conundrum. Edlin's case for his thesis is compelling." ---Gerald J. Postema, Cary C. Boshamer Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Bentham and the Common Law Tradition "Douglas Edlin builds a powerful historical, conceptual, and moral case for the proposition that judges on common law grounds should refuse to enforce unjust legislation. This is sure to be controversial in an age in which critics already excoriate judges for excessive activism when conducting constitutional judicial review. Edlin's challenge to conventional views is bold and compelling." ---Brian Z. Tamanaha, Chief Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo Professor of Law, St. John's University, and author of Law as a Means to an End: Threat to the Rule of Law "Professor Edlin's fascinating and well-researched distinction between constitutional review and common law review should influence substantially both scholarship on the history of judicial power in the United States and contemporary jurisprudential debates on the appropriate use of that power." ---Mark Graber, Professor of Law and Government, University of Maryland, and author of Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil Is a judge legally obligated to enforce an unjust law? In Judges and Unjust Laws, Douglas E. Edlin uses case law analysis, legal theory, constitutional history, and political philosophy to examine the power of judicial review in the common law tradition. He finds that common law tradition gives judges a dual mandate: to apply the law and to develop it. There is no conflict between their official duty and their moral responsibility. Consequently, judges have the authority---perhaps even the obligation---to refuse to enforce laws that they determine unjust. As Edlin demonstrates, exploring the problems posed by unjust laws helps to illuminate the institutional role and responsibilities of common law judges. Douglas E. Edlin is Associate Professor of Political Science at Dickinson College.
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 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.
A history of philosophy from 1100-1600 concentrating on the Aristotelian tradition in the Latin Christian West. "will long remain the major guide to later medieval philosophy and related topics. Most of the essays are exciting and challenging, some of them truly brilliant." --Speculum