As medical technology advances and severely injured or ill people can be kept alive and functioning long beyond what was previously medically possible, the debate surrounding the ethics of end-of-life care and quality-of-life issues has grown more urgent. In this lucid and vigorous book, Craig Paterson discusses assisted suicide and euthanasia from a fully fledged but non-dogmatic secular natural law perspective. He rehabilitates and revitalises the natural law approach to moral reasoning by developing a pluralistic account of (...) just why we are required by practical rationality to respect and not violate key demands generated by the primary goods of persons, especially human life. Important issues that shape the moral quality of an action are explained and analysed: intention/foresight; action/omission; action/consequences; killing/letting die; innocence/non-innocence; person/non-person. Paterson defends the central normative proposition that ‘it is always a serious moral wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human person, whether self or another, notwithstanding any further appeal to consequences or motive’. (shrink)
Language suggestive of natural law ethics, similar to the Catholic understanding of ethical foundations, is prevalent in a number of disciplines. But it does not always issue in a full-blooded commitment to objective ethics, being undermined by relativist ethical currents. In law and politics, there is a robust conception of "human rights", but it has become somewhat detached from both the worth of persons in themselves and from duties. In education, talk of "values" imports ethical considerations but (...) hints at a subjectivist view of them. In the psychology and sociology of drug use, ethically thin concepts of "harm minimisation" and "selfimage" dominate discussion and distract attention from the virtue of temperance and the training of character. A more forceful assertion of an ethics based on the worth of persons in these cases would be most desirable. Arguments against objectivity in the fundamentals may be replied to by examining the parallel between ethics and the discipline whose objectivity has been least challenged by relativist arguments, mathematics. (shrink)
In _The Priority of Prudence_, Daniel Mark Nelson proposes a reappropriation of a moral perspective that focuses on the cardinal virtues of courage, temperance, justice, and prudence. The study aims to recover and rehabilitate the virtue of prudence as a way of resuming a moral conversation that has been stalemated for too long. Nelson's main source for reviving the virtue of prudence is St. Thomas Aquinas's account of the cardinal virtues in the _Summa Theologica_. A primary problem with using Aquinas (...) as a source for reviving an ethics of virtue centered on prudence is that he is commonly perceived as the most prominent figure in the conflicting natural-law tradition. According to Nelson's reinterpretation, however, Aquinas teaches that moral understanding depends first and foremost on prudence working in accord with other cardinal virtues and that natural law functions to explain moral reasoning rather than to guide it. This study serves to advance the debate about the contemporary relevance of an ethics of virtue by way of its significantly more detailed explication of prudence. Nelson makes important connections between influential reinterpretations of the ethical theory of Aquinas that have been published during the last thirty years and widespread interest in an ethics of virtue that has been expressed by Alasdair Maclntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, William Sullivan, Robert Bellah, and others. _The Priority of Prudence _represents a significant contribution to the scholarly literature both in the study of Aquinas and in the debate on the ethics of virtue. (shrink)
In recent decades, the revival of natural law theory in modern moral philosophy has been an exciting and important development. Human Values brings together an international group of moral philosophers who in various respects share the aims and ideals of natural law ethics. In their diverse ways, these authors make distinctive and original contributions to the continuing project of developing natural law ethics as a comprehensive treatment of modern ethical theory and practice.
The article deals with the relationship between theological ethics and moral philosophy. The former is seen as a theoretical reflection on Christian ethics, the latter as one on secular ethics. The main questions asked are: Is there one and only one pre-theoretical knowledge about acting rightly? Does philosophy provide us with the theoretical framework for understanding both Christian and secular ethics? Both questions are answered in the negative. In the course of argument, four positions are presented: (...) theological unificationism, philosophical unificationism, theological separationism and Lutheran dualism. It is argued that the latter position is most convincing. It is dual in the sense of being both a theory of Christian ethics and of including a recognition of natural law. Hence, it unites a particularistic and a universalistic point of view. In the last section a reformulation of the Lutheran position is attempted in making use of the ethical theory of Knud E. Løgstrup''s The Ethical Demand. (shrink)
Karl Barth and the displacement of natural law in contemporary Protestant theology -- Development of the natural-law tradition through the high Middle Ages -- John Calvin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Peter Martyr Vermigli and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Natural law in the thought of Johannes Althusius -- Francis Turretin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator.
Accounts of natural law moral philosophy and theology sought principles and precepts for morality, law, and other forms of social authority, whose prescriptive force was not dependent for validity on human decision, social influence, past tradition, or cultural convention, but through natural reason itself. This volume critically explores and assesses our contemporary culture wars in terms of: the possibility of natural law moral philosophy and theology to provide a unique, content-full, canonical morality; the character and nature of (...) moral pluralism; the limits of justifiable national and international policy seeking to produce and preserve human happiness, social justice, and the common good; the ways in which morality, moral epistemology, and social political reform must be set within the broader context of an appropriately philosophically and theologically anchored anthropology. This work will be of interest to philosophers, theologians, bioethicists, ethicists and political scientists. (shrink)
Given modern technology's penetration of human behavior, it is reasonable to consider what this might mean ethically in the case of emerging technologies being used in association with human reproduction. The nature and reach of these technologies are unprecedented and can legitimately be said to pose serious challenges to traditional ethical assessments of the human good. ;In addressing these challenges, Richard A. McCormick, a moral theologian and bio-ethicist, has deployed a reformulated natural law ethic that derives from formal rather (...) than material norms and expresses itself, in particular, in terms of an evolving theological tradition, at the center of which is the whole person morally engaged in an unfolding world by means of proportionate reason. ;While McCormick acknowledges the impressive achievements of modern technology, he asserts that technological advance is more frequently than not ambiguous. Despite this, he also insists that God has committed the natural order to humans as intelligent and creative persons, thus enabling human potentialities by means of their innovative technologies. ;As McCormick views the unfolding of technology in the arena of human reproduction, he insists on focusing on future possibilities and directions in the aggregate and in the light of our overall convictions about what it means to be human. Otherwise there is the danger of identifying what is humanly and morally good with what is technologically possible. ;While this agenda goes some way to addressing the ethical challenges in emerging human reproductive technologies, it is hampered in McCormick's case by an incomplete understanding of the nature of technology and the relationship between modern science and modern technology . Adding to this limitation is the absence of an analytic method for relating various aspects of his ethical and scientific thought. ;Drawing upon the thinking of philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Jose Ortega y Gasset, theologian/scientists like Arthur Peacocke, and scientists like Jacques Monod, this study shows how a "thicker" understanding of technology and a method of assessing the moral basis of modern science from within can enrich McCormick's natural law ethic and avoid the possibility of undue theological rigidity to which it is otherwise liable. (shrink)
As medical technology advances and severely injured or ill people can be kept alive and functioning long beyond what was previously medically possible, the debate surrounding the ethics of end-of-life care and quality-of-life issues has grown more urgent. In this lucid and vigorous book, Craig Paterson discusses assisted suicide and euthanasia from a fully fledged but non-dogmatic secular natural law perspective. He rehabilitates and revitalises the natural law approach to moral reasoning by developing a pluralistic account of (...) just why we are required by practical rationality to respect and not violate key demands generated by the primary goods of persons, especially human life. Important issues that shape the moral quality of an action are explained and analysed: intention/foresight; action/omission; action/consequences; killing/letting die; innocence/non-innocence; person/non-person. Paterson defends the central normative proposition that ’it is always a serious moral wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human person, whether self or another, notwithstanding any further appeal to consequences or motive’. (shrink)
We describe the Catholic natural law tradition by examining its origins in the medieval penitentials, the papal decretals, the writings of Thomas Aquinas, and seventeenth century casuistry. Catholic natural law emerges as a flexible ethic that conceives of human nature as rational and as oriented to certain basic goods that ought to be pursued and whose pursuit is made possible by the virtues. We then identify four approaches to natural law that have evolved within the United States (...) during the twentieth century, including the traditionalist, proportionalist, right reason, and historicist approaches. The normative implications of these approaches are discussed in relation to ethical issues in the tobacco industry, ITT under Geneen, the marketing of pharmaceuticals, affirmative action, and bribery. It is argued that Alasdair MacIntyre is correct in claiming that the natural law tradition is superior to the liberal ethics of modern deontology and utilitarianism. (shrink)
I locate possible fertile common ground among the “new natural law theory” of Finnis, Grisez, and Boyle, the “traditional” Thomism of McInerny, and natural law derivationism. I respond to Murphy’s contention that the “inclinationism” of Finnis cannot be successfully asserted along with what Murphy takes to be a basic requirement of natural law ethics, namely that basic practical principles are to be “strongly grounded” in human nature. I argue that the tension between the inclinationism of Finnis (...) and Murphy’s basic requirement is not irresolvable. In response to objections by Murphy to natural law derivationism, I argue, basedin part on Searle’s attempt to derive an “ought” from an “is,” that the new natural law theorists and McInerny can and should investigate natural law derivationismfor possible adoption. (shrink)
This article describes Catholic natural law tradition by examining its origins in the medieval penitentials, the papal decretals, the writings of Thomas Aquinas, and seventeenth-century casuistry. Catholic natural law emerges as a flexible ethic that conceives of human nature as rational and as oriented to certain basic goods that ought to be pursued and whose pursuit is made possible by the virtues. Four approaches to natural law that have evolved within the United States during the twentieth century (...) are then identified, including the traditionalist, proportionalist, right reason, and historicist approaches. The normative implications of these approaches are discussed in relation to ethical issues in the tobacco industry, ITT under Geneen, the marketing of pharmaceuticals, affirmative action, and bribery. It is argued that Alasdair MacIntyre is correct in claiming that the natural law tradition issuperior to the liberal ethics of modern deontology and utilitarianism. (shrink)
RESUMO:O objetivo deste artigo é discutir sobre os conceitos de obrigação e lei natural, tendo como referência o polêmico debate moderno envolvendo intelectualismo e voluntarismo. Em um primeiro momento, destacaremos a rejeição de Wolff ao voluntarismo de Pufendorf e sua orientação em direção ao intelectualismo de Leibniz. Conforme essa nova orientação, uma teoria da lei natural não deve basear seu conceito de obrigação na autoridade das leis e em seu poder coercitivo, mas, por outro lado, unicamente na ideia (...) de necessidade moral, interpretada como expressão da ligação natural universal dos seres racionais com o dever. Em um segundo momento, apresentaremos os efeitos dessa discussão no pensamento inicial de Kant, que, se posicionando diante mesmo de Wolff e Baumgarten, vai empreender a superação de seus predecessores, através de uma revisão conceitual do problema, a qual culminará nos pressupostos de sua doutrina ética madura. ABSTRACT:This paper highlights the debate around the concepts of obligationand natural law, with reference to the controversial modern discussion involving intellectualism and voluntarism. Firstly, we highlight Wolff’s rejection of the voluntarism of Pufendorf and Wolff’s orientation toward the intellectualism of Leibniz. For intellectualism, a theory of natural law should not ground the concept of obligation in the authority of laws and in their coercive power, but in the idea of moral necessity, understood as an expression of the universal natural connection of rational beings with duty. We then present the effects of this discussion on Kant’s early thought. Kant undertook to go beyond Wolff and Baumgarten through a conceptual review of the problem, which culminated in the assumptions of his mature ethics. (shrink)
Catholic natural law has had a long and evolving interest in bioethics. Thomas Aquinas left natural law a legacy of great flexibility in evaluating goods within a whole life. He also bequeathed to the Church the basis for an abolutism on sexual issues. Modern reproductive medicine and a deeper understanding of human freedom have reopened these issues. The Vatican has developed new, holistic arguments to proscribe reproductive interventions, but critics remain unconvinced that marital relationships and goods have been (...) adequately evaluated. The resolution of this debate will require further experience and reflection. Keywords: Thomas Aquinas, freedom, natural law, reproductive ethics CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
To assess the utility of appeals to natural law as a way of projecting ethical claims across ideological and cultural boundaries, three examples of such appeals in just war theory are critically analyzed and evaluated: those of contemporary international lawyers Myres McDougal and Florentino Feliciano, theological ethicist Paul Ramsey, and Franciscus de Victoria, a sixteenth-century Spanish theorist whose recasting of Christian just war thought gave rise to secular international law. The conclusion is that natural-law appeals today can no (...) longer depend on their own self-evidence, but must be attempts to uncover commonality as to what is natural. (shrink)
Nagle, Cormac M Global warming has made us much more aware of the need to respect the physical laws of nature and make responsible decisions. This article examines the nature and role of the concept of natural law in guiding us to choose morally and wisely in face of the responsibilities and especially the conflicting values encountered in daily living.
After presenting a paradigm of natural law taken from Cicero and Aquinas, I discuss aspects of Maimonides' ethical theory that appear to conflict with doctrines of natural law. My conclusion will be that Maimonides' adaptation of the Aristotelian metaphysic and doctrine of the "Golden Mean" produced a teleological ethic that is reconcilable with his view that certain moral and legal injunctions are revealed. A doctrine of natural law is compatible with the ethical doctrines that Maimonides held. The (...) thesis I pursue is antithetical to Marvin Fox's (1972:V) contention that "in Judaism there is no natural law doctrine, and in principle there cannot be.". (shrink)
With the passing of disputations between Jewish and Christian thinkers as to whose tradition has a more universal ethics, the task of Jewish and Christian ethicists is to constitute a universal horizon for their respective bodies of ethics, both of which are essentially particularistic being rooted in special revelation. This parallel project must avoid relativism that is essentially anti-ethical, and triumphalism that proposes an imperialist ethos. A retrieval of the idea of natural law in each respective tradition (...) enables the constitution of some intelligent common ground for ethical cooperation in both theory and practice between the traditions. This essay also suggests how the constitution of this common ground could include Muslims as well. The constitution of this common ground enables religious ethicists to present more cogent ethical arguments in secular space, but only of course, when those who now control secular space are open to arguments from members of any religious tradition. (shrink)
Traditional Christian descriptions of homosexuality as a “sin against nature” rely on a claim about the transparency of the sexed body to universal reason: homosexual acts are sins against nature because natural law renders them obviously unnatural. This moral description “unnatural” subverts itself for two reasons. First, neo-traditionalist descriptions conflate “natural” and “normal.” Dialogue with Didier Eribon's work on the “insult” shows how such moral descriptions self-subvert and render chastity impossible. Second, neo-traditionalists use the description to require celibacy, (...) which the tradition teaches is likely impossible without a special gift. This use of natural law thus fails to be self-consistent or true to reality and so undermines its ability to serve as a critical principle in the search for truth. A critical use of natural law allows for an alternative, non-insulting description of homosexual characters. This essay outlines the character description through immanent critique of two spheres of Catholic teachings about sex: Augustinian sexual ethics and nuptial theology. (shrink)
Some philosophers have maintained that even if John R. Searle’s attempted derivation of an evaluative proposition from purely descriptive premises is successful, moral ought would not have been derived. Searle agrees. I will argue that if Searle has successfully derived “ought,” then, based on various approaches taken towards the content of “morality,” this is moral ought. I will also trace out some of the benefits of a successful derivation of moral ought in relation to natural law ethics. I (...) sketch a possible derivation of moral obligations based on one of the basic goods in natural law ethics (i.e., friendship) that resembles Searle’s attempted derivation of an individual’s obligation to keep her promise to someone else. I also sketch a possible derivation of moral obligations based on another of the basic goods in natural law ethics – knowledge. This derivation may not parallel Searle’s attempted derivation as closely as the derivations based on friendship, but it seems to at least involve the derivation of moral obligations from all non-moral premises. (shrink)
The ethics of Wolfhart Pannenberg has a nomological dimension at its center. Based on the history of the natural law tradition, Pannenberg maintains the possibility of the natural law theory on the following five grounds. -/- The theological ground is his understanding of the Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Pauline interpretation of the law. For its historical ground, Pannenberg articulates the natural law theories of Patristic theology and the theologies of Troeltsch and Brunner. (...) The ontological ground is the order of the world, which God established in the process of history. The anthropological ground is the mutuality of human society. The latter two dimensions are related to the epistemological ground, which is based on the hermeneutics of universal history. -/- Pannenberg attempts to combine the law, the gospel, and love in relation to the Kingdom of God. Thus, Pannenberg’s Kingdom ethics is nomological as well as eschatological. (shrink)
Introduction -- Contending for moral first things : Christian social ethics and postconsensus culture -- Natural law and the Christian tradition -- Natural law and the Protestant prejudice -- Moral law, Christian belief, and social ethics -- Contending for moral first things in ethical and bioethical debates : critical categories, part 1 -- Contending for moral first things in ethical and bioethical debates : critical categories, part 2 -- Ethics, bioethics, and the natural law, (...) a test case : euthanasia yesterday and today -- The natural law and public morality : second thoughts on what is at stake. (shrink)
This work brings together leading defenders of Natural Law and Liberalism for a series of frank and lively exchanges touching upon critical issues of contemporary moral and political theory. The book is an outstanding example of the fruitful engagement of traditions of thought about fundamental matters of ethics and justice.
Our goal in this paper is two-fold. First, we aim to clarify two ways in which contemporary Christian bioethicists have erred, on Engelhardt’s account, in their attempts to do bioethics within a distinctively non-Christian idiom, namely, either (1) by rejecting a principal metaethical thesis or (2) by misrepresenting a principal moral-epistemological thesis of natural-law ethics, properly construed. Second, we intend to show not only that Engelhardt can and should endorse the Christian bioethicists’ use of non-Christian moral idioms in (...) the public square but also—perhaps to the surprise both of his critics and of his supporters—that he does, in fact, do so. (shrink)
The life history of certain philosophical and theological terms and concepts constitutes in itself an interesting matter for consideration and reflection. None is more interesting than that of natural law. Many studies have traced the development of natural law philosophy from its early precursors among the Pre-Socratics through Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics, St Thomas, and the early British empiricists; have noted its demise in the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the criticism of Hume; and have (...) observed its renaissance in the twentieth century. Despite this undeniable revival of interest in the theory in the present century, a moral philosopher uses the term only at great risk, for no philosophical theory has been so vigorously attacked and so thoroughly ‘refuted’ as natural law. (shrink)
This book breaks new ground in the study of Judaism, in philosophy, and in comparative ethics. It demonstrates that the assumption that Judaism has no natural law theory to speak of, held by the vast majority of scholars, is simply wrong. The book shows how natural law theory, using a variety of different terms for itself throughout the ages, has been a constant element in Jewish thought. The book sorts out the varieties of Jewish natural law (...) theory, illuminating their strengths and weaknesses. It also presents a case for utilising natural law theory in order to deal with current theological and philosophical questions in Judaism's ongoing reflection on its own meaning and its meaning for the wider world. David Novak combines great erudition in the Jewish tradition, the history of philosophy and law, and the imagination to argue for Judaism in the context of current debates, both theoretical and practical. (shrink)
Recourse to natural law reasoning has long been a part of how Catholics and Christians engage in debates about issues of public and private morality with people and communities of people who do not share the Catholic/Christian faith. But with the rise of modernity, the scientific revolution, and the relative success of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, many Catholics have begun to question traditional natural law reasoning. Some, including theorists like Germain Grisez, and John Finnis have sought to (...) modify traditional natural law reasoning and continue to employ it within debates concerning public and private ethics, while others, acknowledging the radically altered conception of nature that followed the scientific revolution have thought to look for alternative modes of engagement. The following paper will seek to develop an argument against proponents of this altered version of natural law theory, what has come to be called New Natural Law theory, on the basis of the altered understanding of nature in the contemporary West, and the New Natural Law propensity to sideline the question of nature itself. The paper will then go on to advocate for an alternative and more confessional mode of engagement in public debate. (shrink)