“Old natural law theory” begins with the natural end of our sexual faculties and derives ethical principles from there. But this approach has to rely implicitly on prior value judgments in order to distinguish between biological facts that are axiologically or morally relevant and those that are not. The second in a two-part series.
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“New” natural law theorists and “old” natural law theorists both see human flourishing as the proper end of all ethics, including sexual ethics. Yet they disagree about how human nature informs practical reasoning. This first in a two-part series.
Only natural law stands “between gods and men.” It employs human reason and observation, yet it admits of a divine creator behind nature—and therefore something inherently normative about naturally given ends. Without this intermediary, neither conflicts between divine law and human law nor conflicts between different religions can end in anything other than continuous conflict.
David Novak is the only prominent Jewish natural law thinker in the world today. His work will be essential for that part of the Orthodox Jewish community that wishes to engage with our changing culture. In particular, for a defense of Orthodox Judaism in the modern world, it matters immensely that we understand the Jewish view of sex and sexuality to be a matter of mishpat, in the rational realm, the realm of natural law.
When the champions of human rights promote rights that are not grounded in natural law, they undermine their credibility to speak for all human beings. Those who understand the truth about human rights—as every rational person has the capacity to do—will cease to trust the human rights community.
Abraham Kuyper’s teachings help us to rightly value the created order. They also help us understand the ways in which the “common grace” of God preserves the social order through the state, the family, and the dignity of individual work.
We might call Neil Gorsuch a natural law originalist: a jurist who believes that the content, motivation, form, and impact of the Constitution that he’s called upon to uphold and of the laws he must fairly interpret are—for the most part—sound expressions of the account of human good and human dignity to which he subscribes.
Reason operating without error judges that no human being should ever intend the death of another human being for any reason whatsoever. No achievable good can justify such a choice. And that is the foundation for the case against the death penalty.
Aquinas taught the principle that a punishment ought to be proportionate to the offense, where death is a proportionate punishment for the gravest crimes.
Let us hope that, in his answers and in his future jurisprudence, Neil Gorsuch looks to the example of the Great Chief Justice and sees the Constitution as ruler, the natural law as guide.
What does natural law say about the power of judges in constitutional systems of government?
A reflection on our nature as “dependent, rational animals.”
For many, the Narnia stories were their first exposure to the goodness of God and his creation. While they called us to move “further in and further up” to things that were more real and solid than these Shadowlands we now inhabit, they did so by calling us to attend to the traces of the divine already present in the created order.
In spite of its weak philosophical foundation, our culture has deep-seated moral instincts and political commitments. These make it possible to begin the recovery of sound moral and political thought.
At a time when debates about economic inequality occupy significant attention in the public square, Adam MacLeod offers a fresh way forward for thinking about private property and its contribution to the common good by rooting property rights in a robust account of freedom and human flourishing.
Catholic sexual ethics are as fully reasonable today as they were in the time of St Paul. In fact, the natural law understanding of human fulfillment is inherently intelligible even without a theistic framework.
For conservatives, a retreat into self-imposed isolation isn’t a responsible option. We need more conservatives publicly witnessing that humans are wired to know and freely choose truth, and that this has implications for the political order.
While Adam Seagrave offers a provocative and original reading of Locke, his assumptions about the self and ownership are deeply problematic.
As a philosopher, Locke was both historically great and uniquely ambivalent. This combination provides extraordinarily fertile ground for uniting modern and pre-modern insights that seem opposed.
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.
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.
To reject the presence of natural law in documents of the Founding era is to embrace both cynicism and romanticism.
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.
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.