Bioethics and the Human Goods offers students and general readers a brief introduction to bioethics from a “natural law” philosophical perspective. This perspective, which traces its origins to classical antiquity, has profoundly shaped Western ethics and law and is enjoying an exciting renaissance. While compatible with much in the ethical thought of the great religions, it is grounded in reason, not religion. In contrast to the currently dominant bioethical theories of utilitarianism and principlism, the natural law approach offers an understanding of human flourishing grounded in basic human goods, including life, health, friendship, and knowledge, and in the wrongness of intentionally turning against, or neglecting, these goods.
The book is divided into two sections: Foundations and Issues. Foundations sketches a natural law understanding of the important ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice and explores different understandings of “personhood” and whether human embryos are persons. Issues applies a natural law perspective to some of the most controversial debates in contemporary bioethics at the beginning and end of life: research on human embryos, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the withdrawal of tube-feeding from patients in a “persistent vegetative state,” and the definition of death. The text is completed by appendices featuring personal statements by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo on the status of the human embryo and on the definition and determination of death.
Two authors with decades of experience promoting human rights argue that, as the world changes around us, rights hardly imaginable today will come into being.
A rights revolution is under way. Today the range of nonhuman entities thought to deserve rights is exploding—not just animals but ecosystems and even robots. Changes in norms and circumstances require the expansion of rights: What new rights, for example, are needed if we understand gender to be nonbinary? Does living in a corrupt state violate our rights? And emerging technologies demand that we think about old rights in new ways: When biotechnology is used to change genetic code, whose rights might be violated? What rights, if any, protect our privacy from the intrusions of sophisticated surveillance techniques?
Drawing on their vast experience as human rights advocates, William Schulz and Sushma Raman challenge us to think hard about how rights evolve with changing circumstances, and what rights will look like ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. Against those who hold that rights are static and immutable, Schulz and Raman argue that rights must adapt to new realities or risk being consigned to irrelevance. To preserve and promote the good society—one that protects its members’ dignity and fosters an environment in which people will want to live—we must at times rethink the meanings of familiar rights and consider the introduction of entirely new rights.
Now is one of those times. The Coming Good Society details the many frontiers of rights today and the debates surrounding them. Schulz and Raman equip us with the tools to engage the present and future of rights so that we understand their importance and know where we stand.
“Brilliant . . . Should be required reading.” —Commentary
“As a critic of liberalism, George is devastating.” —National Review
“Puts George’s highly burnished philosophical and constitutional learning on full display . . . George speaks for a sizable number of conscientious objectors to America’s ruling liberal secularism.” —New York Times Book Review
“Could not be more timely. A treasure trove of thought-provoking reflections by one of the best minds of our time.” —Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law, from the foreword to the updated and expanded paperback edition of Conscience and Its Enemies
Assaults on religious liberty and traditional morality are growing fiercer. Here, at last, is the counterattack.
This revised and updated paperback edition of the acclaimed Conscience and Its Enemies showcases the talents that have made Robert P. George one of America’s most influential thinkers. Here George explodes the myth that the secular elite represents the voice of reason. In fact, it is on the elite side of the cultural divide where the prevailing views are little more than articles of faith. Conscience and Its Enemies reveals the bankruptcy of these too often smugly held orthodoxies while presenting powerfully reasoned arguments for classical virtues.
In defending what James Madison called the “sacred rights of conscience”—rights for which government shows frightening contempt—George grapples with today’s most controversial issues: same-sex marriage, abortion, transgenderism, genetic manipulation, euthanasia and assisted suicide, religion in politics, judicial activism, and more. His brilliantly argued essays rely not on theological claims or religious authority but on established scientific facts and a philosophical tradition that extends back to Plato and Aristotle.
Conscience and Its Enemies sets forth powerful arguments that secular liberals are unaccustomed to hearing—and that embattled defenders of traditional morality so often fail to marshal.
The noted legal scholar Richard Epstein advocates a much smaller federal government, arguing that our over-regulated state gives too much discretion to regulators, which results in arbitrary, unfair decisions and other abuses. Epstein bases his classical liberalism on the twin pillars of the rule of law and of private contracts and property rights.
Includes the Second Discourse (complete with the author’s extensive notes), contemporary critiques by Voltaire, Diderot, Bonnet, and LeRoy, Rousseau’s replies (some never before translated), and Political Economy, which first outlined principles that were to become famous in the Social Contract. This is the first time that the works of 1755 and 1756 have been combined with careful commentary to show the coherence of Rousseau’s “political system.” The Second Discourse examines man in the true “state of nature,” prior to the formation of the first human societies, tracing the “hypothetical history” of political society and social inequality as they developed out of natural equality and independence.
Heated debates over such issues as abortion, contraception, ordination, and Church hierarchy suggest that feminist and natural law ethics are diametrically opposed. Cristina L.H. Traina now reexamines both Roman Catholic natural law tradition and Anglo-American feminist ethics and reconciles the two positions by showing how some of their aims and assumptions complement one another.
After carefully scrutinizing Aquinas’s moral theology, she analyzes trends in both contemporary feminist ethics, theological as well as secular, and twentieth-century Roman Catholic moral theology. Although feminist ethics reject many of the methods and conclusions of the scholastic and revisionist natural law schools, Traina shows that a truly Thomistic natural law ethic nonetheless provides a much-needed holistic foundation for contemporary feminist ethics. On the other hand, she offers new perspectives on the writings of Josef Fuchs, Richard McCormick, and Gustavo Gutierrez, arguing that their failure to catch the full spirit of Thomas’s moral vision is due to inadequate attention to feminist critical methods.
This highly original book proposes an innovative union of two supposedly antagonistic schools of thought, a new feminist natural law that would yield more comprehensive moral analysis than either existing tradition alone. This is a provocative book not only for students of moral theology but also for feminists who may object to the very notion of natural law ethics, suggesting how each might find insight in an unlikely place.
Whether discussing the nature of liberalism, the constitutional and moral problems posed by judicial usurpation, or the dangers of technology, Russell Hittinger convincingly argues in The First Grace that in our post-Christian world it is more crucial than ever that we recover older, wiser notions of the concepts of freedom and law.
Recent years have seen a renaissance of interest in the relationship between natural law and natural rights. During this time, the concept of natural rights has served as a conceptual lightning rod, either strengthening or severing the bond between traditional natural law and contemporary human rights. Does the concept of natural rights have the natural law as its foundation or are the two ideas, as Leo Strauss argued, profoundly incompatible?
With The Foundations of Natural Morality, S. Adam Seagrave addresses this controversy, offering an entirely new account of natural morality that compellingly unites the concepts of natural law and natural rights. Seagrave agrees with Strauss that the idea of natural rights is distinctly modern and does not derive from traditional natural law. Despite their historical distinctness, however, he argues that the two ideas are profoundly compatible and that the thought of John Locke and Thomas Aquinas provides the key to reconciling the two sides of this long-standing debate. In doing so, he lays out a coherent concept of natural morality that brings together thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Locke, revealing the insights contained within these disparate accounts as well as their incompleteness when considered in isolation. Finally, he turns to an examination of contemporary issues, including health care, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty, showing how this new account of morality can open up a more fruitful debate.
Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right offers an innovative and important account of normativity, yet the theory set forth there rests on philosophical foundations that have remained largely obscure. In Hegel’s Theory of Normativity, Kevin Thompson proposes an interpretation of the foundations that underlie Hegel’s theory: its method of justification, its concept of freedom, and its account of right. Thompson shows how the systematic character of Hegel’s project together with the metaphysical commitments that follow from its method are essential to secure this theory against the challenges of skepticism and to understand its distinctive contribution to questions regarding normative justification, practical agency, social ontology, and the nature of critique.
Josef Fuchs on Natural Law
Mark Graham Georgetown University Press, 2002 Library of Congress K468.G73 2002 | Dewey Decimal 340.112
Appointed by Pope John XXIII to the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth, Fuchs ultimately found himself disappointed in his three years of service and spent the next thirty years exploring a broad array of issues pivotal to a reconstruction of Roman Catholic natural law theory. This is the first full-length analysis of Fuchs's efforts.
Beginning historically by looking at Fuchs's writings and beliefs before the Pontifical Commission appointment, including his defense of natural law during the "situation ethics" debates of the 50s and 60s, the concept of personal salvation, and the status of "nature" and "human nature," Graham moves to the intellectual conversion that inspired Fuchs to reconsider his concepts following the commission appointment. From there, Graham engages in a sustained critique of Fuchs's natural theory, addressing both the strengths and weaknesses to be found there and suggest possible avenues of development that would make a positive contribution to the ongoing quest to rehabilitate the Roman Catholic natural law theory that continues to dominate the landscape of moral theology today.
Liberty and Law
Brian Tierney Catholic University of America Press, 2014 Library of Congress K445.T545 2014 | Dewey Decimal 340.112
Liberty and Law examines a previously underappreciated theme in legal history - the idea of permissive natural law. The idea is mentioned only peripherally, if at all, in modern histories of natural law. Yet it engaged the attention of jurists, philosophers, and theologians over a long period and formed an integral part of their teachings. This ensured that natural law was not conceived of as merely a set of commands and prohibitions that restricted human conduct, but also as affirming a realm of human freedom, understood as both freedom from subjection and freedom of choice. Freedom can be used in many ways, and throughout the whole period from 1100 to 1800 the idea of permissive natural law was deployed for various purposes in response to different problems that arose. It was frequently invoked to explain the origin of private property and the beginnings of civil government.
Budziszewski on natural law is simply the best. . . . A must read.”
—James V. Schall, S.J., author of Another Sort of Learning
“Truly fundamental . . . I shall enjoy reading [it] over and over again.”
—Russell Hittinger, author of The First Grace
Why do we demand happiness on terms that make happiness impossible?
In this brilliantly persuasive book, bestselling author J. Budziszewski examines the suicidal proclivity of our time, which is to deny the obvious. Our hearts are riddled with desires that oppose their deepest longings. Why? And what can we do about it?
Acclaimed philosopher J. Budziszewski addresses these questions in the brilliantly persuasive book The Line Through the Heart, finding the answers in the natural law. The journey of exploration takes us through politics, religion, ethics, law, philosophy, and more, with Budziszewski as expert guide.
While investigating the natural law and its implications, Budziszewski boldly confronts a wide range of contemporary issues, offering a newly integrated view of abortion, evolution, euthanasia, capital punishment, runaway courts, and the ersatz state religion built in the name of religious toleration.
Written in Budziszewski’s usual crystalline style, The Line Through the Heart shows that natural law is a matter of concern not merely to scholars but to everyone, for it touches how each of us lives, and how all of us live together. His profound examination of this subject helps us make sense of why habits that run against our nature have become second nature, and why our world seems to be going mad.
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.
Rooted in Western classical and medieval philosophies, the natural law movement of the last few decades seeks to rediscover fundamental moral truths. In this book, prominent thinkers demonstrate how natural law can be used to resolve a wide range of complex social, political, and constitutional issues by addressing controversial subjects that include the family, taxation, war, racial discrimination, medical technology, and sexuality.
This volume will be of value to those working in philosophy, political science, and legal theory, as well as to policy analysts, legislators, and judges.
Natural Law and Justice
Lloyd L. Weinreb Harvard University Press, 1987 Library of Congress K460.W45 1987 | Dewey Decimal 340.1
Natural Law and Public Reason
Robert P. George and Christopher Wolfe, Editors Georgetown University Press, 2000 Library of Congress K460.N349 2000 | Dewey Decimal 340.112
"Public reason" is one of the central concepts in modern liberal political theory. As articulated by John Rawls, it presents a way to overcome the difficulties created by intractable differences among citizens' religious and moral beliefs by strictly confining the place of such convictions in the public sphere.
Identifying this conception as a key point of conflict, this book presents a debate among contemporary natural law and liberal political theorists on the definition and validity of the idea of public reason. Its distinguished contributors examine the consequences of interpreting public reason more broadly as "right reason," according to natural law theory, versus understanding it in the narrower sense in which Rawls intended. They test public reason by examining its implications for current issues, confronting the questions of abortion and slavery and matters relating to citizenship.
This energetic exchange advances our understanding of both Rawls's contribution to political philosophy and the lasting relevance of natural law. It provides new insights into crucial issues facing society today as it points to new ways of thinking about political theory and practice.
Natural-law theory grounds human laws in universal truths of God’s creation. The task of the judicial system was to build an edifice of positive law on natural law’s foundations. R. H. Helmholz shows how lawyers and judges made and interpreted natural law arguments in the West, and concludes that historically it has advanced the cause of justice.
Natural Right and History
Leo Strauss University of Chicago Press, 1965 Library of Congress K460.S77 1965 | Dewey Decimal 323.401
In this classic work, Leo Strauss examines the problem of natural right and argues that there is a firm foundation in reality for the distinction between right and wrong in ethics and politics. On the centenary of Strauss's birth, and the fiftieth anniversary of the Walgreen Lectures which spawned the work, Natural Right and History remains as controversial and essential as ever.
"Strauss . . . makes a significant contribution towards an understanding of the intellectual crisis in which we find ourselves . . . [and] brings to his task an admirable scholarship and a brilliant, incisive mind."—John H. Hallowell, American Political Science Review
Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Political Science at the University of Chicago.
On the Spirit of Rights
Dan Edelstein University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress JC571.E357 2018 | Dewey Decimal 323.09
By the end of the eighteenth century, politicians in America and France were invoking the natural rights of man to wrest sovereignty away from kings and lay down universal basic entitlements. Exactly how and when did “rights” come to justify such measures?
In On the Spirit of Rights, Dan Edelstein answers this question by examining the complex genealogy of the rights that regimes enshrined in the American and French Revolutions. With a lively attention to detail, he surveys a sprawling series of debates among rulers, jurists, philosophers, political reformers, writers, and others, who were all engaged in laying the groundwork for our contemporary systems of constitutional governance. Every seemingly new claim about rights turns out to be a variation on a theme, as late medieval notions were subtly repeated and refined to yield the talk of “rights” we recognize today. From the Wars of Religion to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, On the Spirit of Rights is a sweeping tour through centuries of European intellectual history and an essential guide to our ways of thinking about human rights today.
“Mueller is an extraordinarily learned man.” —Claremont Review of Books
Economics is primed for—and in desperate need of—a revolution, respected economic forecaster John D. Mueller shows in this eye-opening book. To make this leap forward will require looking backward, for as Redeeming Economics reveals, the most important element of economic theory has been ignored for more than two centuries.
Since the great Adam Smith tore down this pillar of economic thought, Mueller shows, economic theory has been unable to account for a fundamental aspect of human experience: the relationships that define us, the loves (and hates) that motivate and distinguish us as persons. In trying to reduce human behavior to exchanges, modern economists have forgotten how these essential motivations are expressed: as gifts (or their opposite, crimes). Mueller makes economics whole again, masterfully reapplying the economic thought of Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas.
As members of various and often conflicting communities, how do we reconcile what we have come to understand as our human rights with our responsibilities toward one another? With the bright thread of individualism woven through the American psyche, where can our sense of duty toward others be found? What has happened to our love—even our concern—for our neighbor?
In this revised edition of his magisterial exploration of these critical questions, renowned ethicist Arthur Dyck revisits and profoundly hones his call for the moral bonds of community. In all areas of contemporary life, be it in business, politics, health care, religion—and even in family relationships—the "right" of individuals to consider themselves first has taken precedence over our responsibilities toward others. Dyck contends that we must recast the language of rights to take into account our once natural obligations to all the communities of which we are a part.
Rethinking Rights and Responsibilities, at the nexus of ethics, political theory, public policy, and law, traces how the peculiarly American formulations of the rights of the individual have assaulted our connections with, and responsibilities for, those around us. Dyck critically examines contemporary society and the relationship between responsibilities and rights, particularly as they are expressed in medicine and health care, to maintain that while indeed rights and responsibilities form the moral bonds of community, we must begin with the rudimentary task of taking better care of one another.
To explore and evaluate the current revival, this volume brings together many of the foremost scholars on natural law. They examine the relation between Thomistic natural law and the larger philosophical and theological tradition. Furthermore, they assess the contemporary relevance of St. Thomas's natural law doctrine to current legal and political philosophy.
The Stoic Idea of the City
Malcolm Schofield University of Chicago Press, 1999 Library of Congress JC73.S366 1999 | Dewey Decimal 320.0938
The Stoic Idea of the City offers the first systematic analysis of the Stoic school, concentrating on Zeno's Republic. Renowned classical scholar Malcolm Schofield brings together scattered and underused textual evidence, examining the Stoic ideals that initiated the natural law tradition of Western political thought. A new foreword by Martha Nussbaum and a new epilogue written by the author further secure this text as the standard work on the Stoics.
"The account emerges from a jigsaw-puzzle of items from a wide range of authorities, painstakingly pieced together and then annotated in a series of appendixes, the whole executed with fine scholarship, clarity, and good humor."—Times Literary Supplement
Natural Right and History is widely recognized as Strauss’s most influential work. The six lectures, written while Strauss was at the New School, and a full transcript of the 1949 Walgreen Lectures show Strauss working toward the ideas he would present in fully matured form in his landmark work. In them, he explores natural right and the relationship between modern philosophers and the thought of the ancient Greek philosophers, as well as the relation of political philosophy to contemporary political science and to major political and historical events, especially the Holocaust and World War II.
Previously unpublished in book form, Strauss’s lectures are presented here in a thematic order that mirrors Natural Right and History and with interpretive essays by J. A. Colen, Christopher Lynch, Svetozar Minkov, Daniel Tanguay, Nathan Tarcov, and Michael Zuckert that establish their relation to the work. Rounding out the book are copious annotations and notes to facilitate further study.
This is a new English translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law, found in Questions 90–108 of the First Part of the Second Part of the Summa Theologiae. In fact, it is the only free-standing English translation of the entire Treatise, which includes both a general account of law (Questions 90–92) and also specific treatments of what St. Thomas identifies as the five kinds of law: the eternal law (Question 93), the natural law (Question 94), human law (Questions 95–97), the Old Law (Questions 98–105), and the New Law (Questions 106–108). All other extant editions of Treatise on Law stop with the human law, and are thus approximately one-third the size of the full Treatise.
St. Thomas’s account of law is firmly embedded within a general moral theory that begins with a rich conception of human flourishing, i.e., the good for human beings (Questions 1–5). This good consists, first and foremost, in our ultimate and intimate union with the Persons of the Blessed Trinity – a union that in our present state we can grasp intellectively and pursue affectively only with God’s supernatural assistance. It is within this framework that we order our loves and pursue the more proximate goals they open up to us as human beings in this life. Given the appropriate goals, the next question is how we can get from where we are, in the grips of the consequences of Original Sin, to where we want to be. The answer is: by means of (a) human actions that are good, i.e., rightly ordered toward our ultimate end and (b) the habits that these actions either engender or flow from. In analyzing human actions (Questions 6–21) and their relation to the passions (Questions 22–48), St. Thomas gives a general account of what he calls the ‘intrinsic principles’ of human actions and their associated habits – both virtues (Questions 49–70) and vices (Questions 71–89). It is only then that he turns to what he calls the ‘extrinsic principles’ of good human actions, viz., law (Questions 90–108) and grace (Questions 109–114).
According to St. Thomas, law, far from supplanting virtue as a basic principle of action, serves as an independent principle of action that complements virtue and is itself capable of being factored into practical deliberation. The reason is that all of God’s
precepts, prohibitions, and punishments are aimed at promoting the good of the whole universe and, more particularly, the good for human beings, both individually and within the various forms of social life. Because of this, law serves as both a restraint on bad actions and a spur to good action, i.e., a restraint on actions that take us away from virtue and genuine human flourishing and a spur to actions that promote virtue and flourishing.
There are many benefits of having the whole treatise rather than just the first few questions, as has been the standard practice in previous editions of the Treatise on Law. To mention just a few of these benefits, the question on the moral precepts of the Old Law (question 100) helps to illuminate in many different ways the earlier questions on natural law and human law (questions 94–97). Again, the questions on the ceremonial and judicial precepts of the Old Law (questions 101–105) demon-strate in depth the symbiotic relationship that St. Thomas takes to obtain between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The questions on the New Law provide an introduction to the Christian way of life that will be described in incomparable detail in the Second Part of the Second Part, the bulk of which is structured around the treatment of the three theological virtues and the four cardinal virtues.
On June 30, 1908, a mysterious explosion erupted in the skies over a vast woodland area of Siberia. Known as the Tunguska Event, it has been a source of wild conjecture over the past century, attributed to causes ranging from meteors to a small black hole to antimatter. In this imaginative book, Michael Hampe sets four fictional men based on real-life scholars—a physicist (Günter Hasinger and Steven Weinberg), a philosopher (Paul Feyerabend), a biologist (Adolf Portmann), and a mathematician (Alfred North Whitehead)—adrift on the open ocean, in a dense fog, to discuss what they think happened. The result is a playful and highly illuminating exploration of the definition of nature, mankind’s role within it, and what its end might be.
Tunguska, Or the End of Nature uses its four-man setup to tackle some of today’s burning issues—such as climate change, environmental destruction, and resource management—from a diverse range of perspectives. With a kind of foreboding, it asks what the world was like, and will be like, without us, whether we are negligible and the universe random, whether nature can truly be explained, whether it is good or evil, or whether nature is simply a thought we think. This is a profoundly unique work, a thrillingly interdisciplinary piece of scholarly literature that probes the mysteries of nature and humans alike.
Unleashing Rights is a study of the animal rights movement's efforts to advance social reform through the deployment of legal language and practices. The study looks at how prevailing understandings of rights language have shaped the attempt to put forth the idea that animals have rights, and how this attempt, in turn, offers the opportunity to reconstruct the meaning of rights. The book also examines the way litigation has influenced the movement's activities and opportunities for success.
Presented here is an investigation of the legal system through a decentered, cultural approach. Legal languages and practices are viewed as a part of everyday life--constructed, used, and interpreted not only by those who run official legal institutions but also by everyday people with a legal consciousness. Using this approach, the book questions whether the deployment of rights and litigation by animal rights advocates has challenged prevailing legal meaning.
Looking to both the constitutive and instrumental aspects of law, and to how each informs the other, Unleashing Rights finds that the resort to rights and litigation has advanced movement goals and contributed to alternative constructions of legal meaning. The study concludes that despite their many constraints, both rights talk and litigation are powerful resources for those who seek change, especially when used by strategically minded activists.
Unleashing Rights is a book that illustrates the relationship between law, social movement activism, and social change. The book joins the ongoing debate within public law scholarship that is concerned with the effectiveness of legal strategies and languages. The book also speaks to those interested in the general study of social movements and in the particular study of the animal rights movement. With its cultural approach focused on rights language and the construction of meaning, the work will be of interest to the disciplines of law and political science, as well as those who study sociology, anthropology, and philosophy.
Helena Silverstein is F. M. Kirby Assistant Professor of Government and Law, Lafayette College.