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.
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.
Charles Rice, professor of the jurisprudence of St. Thomas Aquinas for the last twenty years at Notre Dame Law School, presents a very readable book on the natural law as seen through the teachings of Aquinas and their foundations in reason and Revelation. Reflecting on the most persistent questions asked by his students over the years, Rice shows how the natural law works and how it is rooted in the nature of the human person whose Creator provided this law as a sure and knowable guide for man to achieve his end of eternal happiness. This book presents the teachings of the Catholic Church in her role as arbiter of the applications of the natural law on issues involving the right to live, bioethics, the family and the economy. Charles Rice has produced a firmly grounded and accessible handbook which touches on the most important topics regarding natural law that will benefit readers of all backgrounds.
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.
How can one Jewish thinker's natural law theory explain morality, divine commandments, and human ordinances; and how do we assess the consistency of that theory when it is mentioned in connection with such diverse areas? The answer lies in the changing meaning of reason in Novak's writings.
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.
Black Natural Law offers a new way of understanding the African American political tradition. Iconoclastically attacking left (including James Baldwin and Audre Lorde), right (including Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson), and center (Barack Obama), Vincent William Lloyd charges that many Black leaders today embrace secular, white modes of political engagement, abandoning the deep connections between religious, philosophical, and political ideas that once animated Black politics. By telling the stories of Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Lloyd shows how appeals to a higher law, or God's law, have long fueled Black political engagement. Such appeals do not seek to implement divine directives on earth; rather, they pose a challenge to the wisdom of the world, and they mobilize communities for collective action. Black natural law is deeply democratic: while charismatic leaders may provide the occasion for reflection and mobilization, all are capable of discerning the higher law using our human capacities for reason and emotion. At a time when continuing racial injustice poses a deep moral challenge, the most powerful intellectual resources in the struggle for justice have been abandoned. Black Natural Law recovers a rich tradition, and it examines just how this tradition was forgotten. A Black intellectual class emerged that was disconnected from social movement organizing and beholden to white interests. Appeals to higher law became politically impotent: overly rational or overly sentimental. Recovering the Black natural law tradition provides a powerful resource for confronting police violence, mass incarceration, and today's gross racial inequities. Black Natural Law will change the way we understand natural law, a topic central to the Western ethical and political tradition. While drawing particularly on African American resources, Black Natural Law speaks to all who seek politics animated by justice.
To explore and evaluate the current revival, this volume brings together many of the foremost scholars on natural law. They examine the relation between Thomistic natural law and the larger philosophical and theological tradition. Furthermore, they assess the contemporary relevance of St. Thomas's natural law doctrine to current legal and political philosophy.
"Public reason" is one of the central concepts in modern liberal political theory. As articulated by John Rawls, it presents a way to overcome the difficulties created by intractable differences among citizens' religious and moral beliefs by strictly confining the place of such convictions in the public sphere. Identifying this conception as a key point of conflict, this book presents a debate among contemporary natural law and liberal political theorists on the definition and validity of the idea of public reason. Its distinguished contributors examine the consequences of interpreting public reason more broadly as "right reason," according to natural law theory, versus understanding it in the narrower sense in which Rawls intended. They test public reason by examining its implications for current issues, confronting the questions of abortion and slavery and matters relating to citizenship. This energetic exchange advances our understanding of both Rawls's contribution to political philosophy and the lasting relevance of natural law. It provides new insights into crucial issues facing society today as it points to new ways of thinking about political theory and practice.
Heated debates over such issues as abortion, contraception, ordination, and Church hierarchy suggest that feminist and natural law ethics are diametrically opposed. Cristina L.H. Traina now reexamines both Roman Catholic natural law tradition and Anglo-American feminist ethics and reconciles the two positions by showing how some of their aims and assumptions complement one another. After carefully scrutinizing Aquinas’s moral theology, she analyzes trends in both contemporary feminist ethics, theological as well as secular, and twentieth-century Roman Catholic moral theology. Although feminist ethics reject many of the methods and conclusions of the scholastic and revisionist natural law schools, Traina shows that a truly Thomistic natural law ethic nonetheless provides a much-needed holistic foundation for contemporary feminist ethics. On the other hand, she offers new perspectives on the writings of Josef Fuchs, Richard McCormick, and Gustavo Gutierrez, arguing that their failure to catch the full spirit of Thomas’s moral vision is due to inadequate attention to feminist critical methods. This highly original book proposes an innovative union of two supposedly antagonistic schools of thought, a new feminist natural law that would yield more comprehensive moral analysis than either existing tradition alone. This is a provocative book not only for students of moral theology but also for feminists who may object to the very notion of natural law ethics, suggesting how each might find insight in an unlikely place.