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Morality and the Human Goods: An Introduction to Natural Law Ethics
by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo
Georgetown University Press, 2002
Paper: 978-0-87840-885-6
Library of Congress Classification BJ1012.G645 2002
Dewey Decimal Classification 171.2


A concise and accessible introduction to natural law ethics, this book introduces readers to the mainstream tradition of Western moral philosophy. Building on philosophers from Plato through Aquinas to John Finnis, Alfonso Gómez-Lobo links morality to the protection of basic human goods--life, family, friendship, work and play, the experience of beauty, knowledge, and integrity--elements essential to a flourishing, happy human life.

Gómez-Lobo begins with a discussion of Plato's Crito as an introduction to the practice of moral philosophy, showing that it requires that its participants treat each other as equals and offer rational arguments to persuade each other. He then puts forth a general principle for practical rationality: one should pursue what is good and avoid what is bad. The human goods form the basis for moral norms that provide a standard by which actions can be evaluated: do they support or harm the human goods? He argues that moral norms should be understood as a system of rules whose rationale is the protection and enhancement of human goods. A moral norm that does not enjoin the preservation or enhancement of a specific good is unjustifiable. Shifting to a case study approach, Gómez-Lobo applies these principles to a discussion of abortion and euthanasia. The book ends with a brief treatment of rival positions, including utilitarianism and libertarianism, and of conscience as our ultimate moral guide.

Written as an introductory text for students of ethics and natural law, Morality and the Human Goods makes arguments consistent with Catholic teaching but is not based on theological considerations. The work falls squarely within the field of philosophical ethics and will be of interest to readers of any background.

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