Natural Law and Natural Rights is widely recognised as a seminal contribution to the philosophy of law, and an essential reference point for all students of the subject. This new edition includes a substantial postscript by the author responding to thirty years of comment, criticism, and further work in the field.
This launch volume in the Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought series presents a critical examination of Aquinas' thought, combining an accessible, historically-informed account of his work with an assessment of his central ideas and arguments. John Finnis presents a richly-documented critical review of Aquinas's thought on morality, politics, law, and method in social science. Unique in his coverage of Aquinas's primary and secondary texts and his own vigorous argumentation on many themes, the author focuses on the philosophy in (...) Aquinas's texts, and demonstrates how this interconnects with the theological elements. Professor Finnis shows how Aquinas, despite some medieval limitations, makes clear and profound contributions to present debates. (shrink)
Nuclear deterrence requires objective ethical analysis. In providing it, the authors face realities - the Soviet threat, possible nuclear holocaust, strategic imperatives - but they also unmask moral evasions - deterrence cannot be bluff, pure counterforce, the lesser evil, or a step towards disarmament. They conclude that the deterrent is unjustifiable and examine the new question of conscience that this raises for everyone.
A critique of recent work in moral theology illustrated with examples from the most controversial aspects of Christian moral doctrine. Finnis gives an account of the roots of the upheaval in Roman Catholic moral theology in and after the 1960s, and points to a way forward.
This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.
This paper identifies and contests the thesis it takes to be the central premise of Giubilini and Minerva, ‘Why should the baby live?’, namely that rights, subjecthood and personhood have as a necessary condition that the undergoing of a harm be experienced. That thesis entails the repugnant or absurd conclusion that we do not have the right not to be killed in our sleep. The conclusion can be avoided by adding some premise or qualification about actual capacities for experience of (...) harm, but nothing in the Giubilini and Minerva article shows that such capacities do not exist, as actual and not merely potential, in the newly born human infant (and indeed in the unborn human child/foetus). The present paper reviews an earlier philosophical attempt to deploy an awareness criterion of personhood, and proposes objections to some other aspects of the article under consideration. (shrink)
The four kinds of explanation identified by Aquinas at the beginning of his commentary on Aristotle's Ethics are deployed to show that the identity of the human person is sui generis and mysterious, even though each of its elements is more or less readily accessible to our understanding. The essay attends particularly to the explorations by Aquinas and, with different techniques, by Shakespeare of the experience and understanding of one's lasting presence to oneself as one and the same bodily and (...) mental self, and one's self-shaping by one's free choices, especially of commitments. Shakespeare further explores these, quite deliberately, through displays of mistaken identity and humiliating deflations of the personas one constructs for life in society. (shrink)
The past in which theory of this kind had its origins is notably similar to the present. For this is theory–practical theory–which articulates a critique of critiques, and the critiques it criticizes, rejects and replaces have much in common whether one looks at them in their fifth century B.C. Hellenic (Sophistic) or their modern (Enlightenment, Nietzschean or postmodern) forms.
Fifty years ago this year a legal practitioner turned military intelligencer turned philosopher, Herbert Hart, published The Concept of Law, still deservedly best-seller in thought about law. It presents law, especially common law and constitutionally ordered systems such as ours, as a social reality which results from the sharing of ideas and making of decisions that, for good or evil, establish rules of law which are what they are, whether just or unjust. But right at its centre is a chapter (...) on justice, informed by Hart’s professional knowledge of Plato and Aristotle and the tradition of civilized thought about justice, thought which he sums up like this: “the general principle latent in [the] diverse applications of the idea of justice is that individuals are entitled in respect of each other to a certain relative position of equality or inequality.” “Hence”, he goes on, “[the] leading precept [of justice] is often formulated as ‘Treat like cases alike’; though we need to add … ‘and treat different cases differently’”. This article will say something about three aspects of this vast topic: (i) about the factual basis and normative grounds of equality; (ii) about the proposed principle of equal concern; and (iii) about laws and social policies that pursue equality by selective prohibition of direct and indirect discrimination, and of harassment or vilification, victimisation and offence. (shrink)