Questions Concerning the Law of Nature [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 44 (4):849-851 (1991)
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Abstract

For much the greater part of Western history, moral and political thinking took fundamental guidance from "natural law," a standard of justice and human flourishing resting ambiguously on the dual foundation of the rational knowledge of human nature and the revelation of divine will. Modern politics and philosophy, by contrast, may be said to have emerged through the rise of a doctrine of "natural rights," which rested ambiguously on the rejection and the transformation of natural law. In the present "postmodern age", as we struggle to comprehend just what modernity was and how it got started, we urgently need to re-examine the complex fate of natural law, especially in the work of such thinkers as Hobbes, Spinoza, and above all John Locke, the father of the modern, liberal, "rights-based" theory of the state.

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