Cicero, Aquinas, and Contemporary Issues in Natural Law Theory

Review of Metaphysics 62 (3):491-523 (2009)
This paper contends that the natural law theory of Saint Thomas Aquinas has been inappropriately removed from its foundation in the classical philosophical traditions of Cicero and Aristotle. Critics charge that because it refers to the eternal law, and hence divine revelation, St. Thomas’s natural law theory is not “natural.” The author in reply demonstrates the Ciceronian and Aristotelian—and therefore pagan, naturalist—roots of the Thomistic theory. St. Thomas’s discussion of natural law in the Summa mirrors Cicero’s attempted derivation of natural law from “a rational encounter with objective reality.” Further, St. Thomas’s Summa includes demonstrations that God is the Cause of all objective reality. This truth does not however deny the “naturalness” of human rational consideration of reality, but rather shows that humans internally apprehend an external order which owes its reality to the First Cause of all being. Human reason and natural law thereby necessarily involve a participation in the eternal law. The author concludes that attempts to dissociate Thomistic natural law theory from its Ciceronian and Aristotelian roots lessen the force and persuasive power of the former. The proper approach involves, not an abandonment of the traditional theory, but its further development and its application to present issues
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0034-6632  
DOI revmetaph20096231
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,840
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Participation Metaphysics in Aquinas's Theory of Natural Law.Craig A. Boyd - 2005 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79 (3):431-445.
Medieval Natural Law and the Reformation.David VanDrunen - 2006 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 80 (1):77-98.
Reclaiming or Rewriting the Tradition?Janet E. Smith - 2001 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 75 (4):585-595.
Natural Law, End, And Virtue In Aquinas.John Peterson - 1999 - Journal of Philosophical Research 24:397-413.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

33 ( #157,620 of 2,178,255 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #316,623 of 2,178,255 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums