Category Archives: Natural Law


by on June 16th, 2014

The normalization of polygamy would undermine our commitment to human dignity—our sense that each human being is to be valued as an end in him- or herself, and not merely as a means to others’ ends.

by on June 10th, 2014

The principles of natural law and the right to property could help overcome the dysfunction that has paralyzed land management in the western US.

by on May 9th, 2014

To view practical agreements between Aristotelian-Thomist foundationalists and contemporary anti-foundationalist liberals as “progress” is to fiddle while Rome burns.

by on May 5th, 2014

When we make moral judgments, we implicitly and unavoidably acknowledge that there are objective standards of right and wrong to which we ought to conform our feelings and actions.

by on February 28th, 2014

Christians have nothing to fear and everything to gain from good social science. It provides a way to talk normatively about human flourishing in terms that are intelligible, legitimate, and persuasive to those outside the community of faith.

by on February 20th, 2014

Every child has a right to be loved by his or her biological parents. Third-party reproduction violates this right by intentionally conceiving a child in a way that will alienate that child from at least one of her biological parents.

by on February 6th, 2014

We are all called to defend marriage so that the truth can change hearts, minds, and lives. As the early pro-life activists did, we must invest the long-term political, legal, cultural, and spiritual capital to win down the line. The final installment in a three-part series.

by on February 5th, 2014

The next generation of true culture-makers will be shaped purely by bad philosophy if its arguments go unanswered. As individuals and communities, we will be swayed by moral thought no matter what: the only question is whether it will be well thought out. The second in a three-part series.

by on February 4th, 2014

Many Christians question the value of philosophical arguments for conjugal marriage, preferring to appeal to revelation. But our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it. The first of a three-part series.

by on November 20th, 2013

Kevin Doyle’s review of Robert George's new book is based on a fundamental error. Conscience, rightly understood, is not simply self-will. Rather, conscience identifies one’s duties under the moral law.

by on May 24th, 2013

Natural law does not demand capitalism, but we can deduce from natural law that some institutions that are key to market economies are normally just, while practices key to socialist arrangements are usually unjust.

by on May 10th, 2013

The Gosnell case shows us that a society’s laws teach, and if they teach a lesson of injustice they will corrupt its people over time. Indeed, contemporary abortion jurisprudence undermines the very notion of natural rights and constitutional government.

by on April 24th, 2013

Natural law theory makes a very limited, but very important claim—that there is common ground between all human beings, and particularly between religious believers and non-believers, on which moral disagreements can be rationally adjudicated.

by on March 4th, 2013

To reject the presence of natural law in documents of the Founding era is to embrace both cynicism and romanticism.

by on February 28th, 2013

A recent claim to reject the natural law for its uselessness and false claims to neutrality misunderstands the first-personal perspective of contemporary natural law. The second in a two-part series.

by on February 27th, 2013

A recent claim to reject the natural law risks misunderstanding the role of reason and overlooks the difference between practical reasoning and morality. The first in a two-part series.

by on December 11th, 2012

A “Fantasy Slut League” created by high school boys in California suggests the reality of natural law even in those minds whose view of sexuality has been distorted by our culture.

by on November 7th, 2012

Naïve proponents and skeptics of the natural law often point to the world “out there” as the source of objective truth (or lack thereof), but the truths of the natural law are to be found through the actions of our intellect.

by on September 19th, 2012

Governments don’t legally recognize a certain type of relationship because they are suckers for romance; they do so because they are understandably afraid of the potentially destructive consequences of such romance.

by on June 19th, 2012

Lying is always wrong because it always compromises the love of truth that we need to know and love God better.

by on June 18th, 2012

Insofar as our lives are governed by reason, we cannot live without truth and a love for it.

by on June 11th, 2012

As a pluralistic liberal democracy, we should craft our laws so that individuals will never be unnecessarily coerced into violating their consciences.

by on June 1st, 2012

A book about sex by J. Budziszewski uses natural law arguments to persuade young adults of the moral benefits of purity.

by on May 9th, 2012

The failure to grasp the implications of intrinsic human worth plagues arguments for physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

by on April 26th, 2012

Despite their disagreements, conservatives and libertarians often agree on many things. Resolving their differences, however, means rejecting philosophical skepticism and taking right reason seriously.

by on April 18th, 2012

One can neither deny nor question the natural law’s persuasiveness except by asking questions, conducting inquiries, achieving understandings, reaching judgments, and making choices—all of which are the natural law at work.

by on March 16th, 2012

Whether we call it infanticide or after-birth abortion, ending the life of newborns kills human beings who are moral persons because they are rational beings.

by on March 7th, 2012

It would be wrong for the United States to engage at this time in an attack on Iran or to participate substantially in an Israeli action.

by on February 22nd, 2012

The fundamental problem with the mandate is that it coerces some people into doing what they think is wrong, and this problem remains regardless of whether the coercion excuses the actions of the people being coerced.

by on February 20th, 2012

Were the central task of government to be seen as that of aiding citizens in their own self-constitution, oriented towards real human goods including the good of religion, the HHS mandate would be seen for the unjust imposition it is.

by on February 6th, 2012

Personally opposed, but actively supporting…well, it’s complicated.

by on February 3rd, 2012

The precepts of the natural law are obligatory not because they are commanded, but because they are necessary for our well-being. God’s revelation of these precepts is better understood as a divine reminding and authoritative inviting.

by on January 30th, 2012

The conjugal conception of marriage is just and coherent; the same-sex marriage proponents’ conception of marriage is unjust and incoherent.

by on January 26th, 2012

A eudaimonistic ethical theory can show, without appeal to God, that certain actions are always wrong.

by on January 17th, 2012

The construction of an ethical theory, as a general matter, inevitably implicates philosophical theology.

by on January 16th, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr., espoused a worldview repugnant to many of those who now claim his legacy.

by on December 19th, 2011

The absolute prohibition of intrinsically evil acts is the limit on one’s positive obligations.

by on December 16th, 2011

Divine legislation functions to enforce moral absolutes, not to ground them.

by on December 13th, 2011

If appeals to God get ruled out, either by disbelief in his existence or reluctance to rely upon it, then it isn’t possible to demonstrate that there are moral absolutes.

by on December 12th, 2011

Rather than simply denouncing Truman for his decision to employ the atomic bomb, his critics need to confront the harsh reality of war and seriously consider the lack of viable alternatives available to him.

by on December 1st, 2011

The tradition of common morality does not permit us to excuse the atomic bomb as a “necessary” evil.

by on November 21st, 2011

Moral absolutes are not “mere” restrictions on our actions. Nor should they be suspended even when upholding them might bring about grave consequences. They are essential for protecting human wellbeing.

by on October 18th, 2011

Modern science does not require us to abandon notions of nature and human nature upon which so much of traditional ethics depends.

by on October 14th, 2011

The presumptive starting point in the natural law and, more specifically, Christian tradition is one of absolute opposition to intentional killing of beings created in the image of God, for which exceptions must be earned; but the traditional justifications for such exceptions fail.

by on October 13th, 2011

While not explicitly denying the principle of proportionality, Tollefsen implicitly rejects it, leaving his argument not only counterintuitive but incoherent.

by on September 30th, 2011

Nothing that a man does can change his nature as man, and so, considered in himself, it will always remain wrong to kill him. This should be the final judgment of practical reason when brought to bear on the question of capital punishment.

by on September 29th, 2011

If one accepts the legitimacy of punishment and the principle of proportionality, then it is impossible to claim that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong.

by on September 16th, 2011

Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.

by on July 26th, 2011

In a discipline whose point is dispassionate reasoning and discourse, some would shut down debate and silence dissenters on a deep and complex moral-political issue. And the view they would anathematize, far from irrational, is more coherent and more compelling than their slippery and ill-defined 'default'.

by on July 18th, 2011

Doctors are called to a life of compassionate service to human beings invested with intrinsic dignity. This essay is adapted from the Commencement Address Dr. Landry delivered at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Featured


by Ryan T. Anderson on October 13th, 2008
An introductory letter from the founder and editor of Public Discourse.
by Mark Regnerus on December 20th, 2012
Young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and fairness. It may be, in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.
by Ryan T. Anderson on December 18th, 2012
How successful can a “new conversation on marriage” be when its leaders can’t even say what marriage is?
by Sherif Girgis on February 15th, 2013
Marriage as a human good, not marriage law, has an objective core whose norms the state has an interest in tracking and supporting—in a way that respects everyone’s freedom.
by Robert Oscar Lopez on February 11th, 2013
Whatever same-sex marriage is, that’s not what gays are after. They are after a symbolic vehicle that can make them equal to people who can do something they cannot—procreate.
by Patrick Fagan on February 6th, 2013
Family, church, and school are the three basic people-forming institutions, and it is no wonder that they produce the best results—including economic and political ones—when they cooperate.

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