John Finnis is a pre-eminent legal, moral and political philosopher. This volume contains over 25 essays by leading international scholars of philosophy and law who critically engage with issues at the heart of Finnis's work.
Abstract. We argue that all human beings have a special type of dignity which is the basis for (1) the obligation all of us have not to kill them, (2) the obligation to take their well-being into account when we act, and (3) even the obligation to treat them as we would have them treat us, and indeed, that all human beings are equal in fundamental dignity. We give reasons to oppose the position that only some human beings, because of (...) their possession of certain characteristics in addition to their humanity (for example, an immediately exercisable capacity for self-consciousness, or for rational deliberation), have full moral worth. What distinguishes human beings from other animals, what makes human beings persons rather than things, is their rational nature, and human beings are rational creatures by virtue of possessing natural capacities for conceptual thought, deliberation, and free choice, that is, the natural capacity to shape their own lives. (shrink)
The author, a member of the U.S.President's Council on Bioethics, discussesethical issues raised by human cloning, whetherfor purposes of bringing babies to birth or forresearch purposes. He first argues that everycloned human embryo is a new, distinct, andenduring organism, belonging to the speciesHomo sapiens, and directing its owndevelopment toward maturity. He then distinguishesbetween two types of capacities belonging toindividual organisms belonging to this species,an immediately exerciseable capacity and abasic natural capacity that develops over time. He argues that it is the (...) second type ofcapacity that is the ground for full moralrespect, and that this capacity (and itsconcomitant degree of respect) belongs tocloned human embryos no less than to adulthuman beings. He then considers and rejectscounter-arguments to his position, includingthe suggestion that the capacity of embryos isequivalent to the capacity of somatic cells,that full human rights are afforded only tohuman organisms with functioning brains, thatthe possibility of twinning diminishes themoral status of embryos, that the fact thatpeople do not typically mourn the loss of earlyembryos implies that they have a diminishedmoral status, that the fact that earlyspontaneous abortions occur frequentlydiminishes the moral status of embryos, andthat his arguments depend upon a concept ofensoulment. He concludes that if the moralstatus of cloned human embryos is equivalent tothat of adults, then public policy should bebased upon this assumption. (shrink)
This work brings together leading defenders of Natural Law and Liberalism for a series of frank and lively exchanges touching upon critical issues of contemporary moral and political theory. The book is an outstanding example of the fruitful engagement of traditions of thought about fundamental matters of ethics and justice.
This collection of original papers from distinguished legal theorists offers a challenging assessment of the nature and viability of legal positivism, a branch of legal theory which continues to dominate contemporary legal theoretical debates. To what extent is the law adequately described as autonomous? Should law claim autonomy? These and other questions are addressed by the authors in this carefully edited collection, and it will be of interest to all lawyers and scholars interested in legal philosophy and legal theory.
Contemporary liberal thinkers commonly suppose that there is something in principle unjust about the legal prohibition of putatively victimless crimes. Here Robert P. George defends the traditional justification of morals legislation against criticisms advanced by leading liberal theorists. He argues that such legislation can play a legitimate role in maintaining a moral environment conducive to virtue and inhospitable to at least some forms of vice. Among the liberal critics of morals legislation whose views George considers are Ronald Dworkin, Jeremy Waldron, (...) David A.J. Richards, and Joseph Raz. He also considers the influential modern justification for morals legislation offered by Patrick Devlin as an alternative to the traditional approach. George closes with a sketch of a "pluralistic perfectionist" theory of civil liberties and public morality, showing that it is fully compatible with a defense of morals legislation. Making Men Moral will interest legal scholars and political theorists as well as theologians and philosophers focusing on questions of social justice and political morality. (shrink)
Natural law theory is enjoying a revival of interest in a variety of scholarly disciplines including law, philosophy, political science, and theology and religious studies. This volume presents twelve original essays by leading natural law theorists and their critics. The contributors discuss natural law theories of morality, law and legal reasoning, politics, and the rule of law. Readers get a clear sense of the wide diversity of viewpoints represented among contemporary theorists, and an opportunity to evaluate the arguments and counterarguments (...) exchanged in the current debates between natural law theorists and their critics. Contributors include Hadley Arkes, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., John Finnis, Robert P. George, Russell Hittinger, Neil MacCormick, Michael Moore, Jeffrey Stout, Joseph Raz, Jeremy Waldron, Lloyd Weinreb, and Ernest Weinrib. (shrink)