Natural Rights Liberalism

Philosophy and Theology 4 (3):253-265 (1990)
Abstract
Classical Iiberalism has at least two distinct strains. Its natural rights version requires extensive use of moral concepts. Some denigrate this tradition on grounds that it has been made obsolete by empiricist epistemology and materialist metaphysics. Since that tradition requires knowledge of moral truth and since empiricism precludes this, the tradition is hopeless. Since it also requires a teleological explanation of human action, and since mechanism precludes this, the hopelessness of the tradition is compounded. I argue that neither the empiricist nor the mechanistic view may be taken for granted - indeed, if anything, they are obsolete, and the road is open to a philosophy which makes the natural rights tradition even more credible than it was when developed by John Locke
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