Sexual Ethics, Practical Reason, and the Magisterium


Irene Alexander’s article in last spring’s issue of this journal criticizes the new natural law account of sexual ethics, including Melissa Moschella’s defense of that view in a previous article also in this journal. Alexander claims that the NNL account adopts an empiricist view of nature and that NNL’s rejection of the perverted faculty argument is contrary to the Magisterium. Here Moschella responds to Alexander’s criticisms by clarifying NNL theorists’ understanding of the distinction between speculative and practical reason through an explanation of Aquinas’s account of the four orders, correcting Alexander’s erroneous portrayal of NNL arguments against contraception, and arguing that the NNL account of sexual ethics is not only in line with magisterial teaching, but offers a better philosophical defense of that teaching than the view Alexander proposes.

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Melissa Moschella
Catholic University of America

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