Aquinas and the Natural Law

Journal of Religious Ethics 43 (1):28-50 (2015)
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Recent decades have seen a shift away from the traditional view that Aquinas's theory of the natural law is meant to supply us with normative guidance grounded in a substantive theory of human nature. In the present essay, I argue that this is a mistake. Expanding on the suggestions of Jean Porter and Ralph McInerny, I defend a derivationist reading of ST I-II, Q. 94, A. 2 according to which Aquinas takes our knowledge of the genuine goods of human life and their proper ordering to one another to be self-evident only to the wise who are able to discern the truth about our God-given human nature. I then show that this reading provides a better account of Aquinas's view than two recent alternatives: John Finnis's brand of inclinationism and Daniel Mark Nelson's virtue-based interpretation



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Peter Seipel
University of South Carolina

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References found in this work

Whose Justice? Which Rationality?Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1988 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Natural Law and Natural Rights.John Finnis - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Summa Contra Gentiles.Thomas Aquinas - 1975 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Whose Justice? Which Rationality?Alasdair Macintyre - 1988 - Journal of Religious Ethics 16 (2):363-363.

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