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Natural Law Modernized

Natural Law Modernized

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  • Book Info
    Natural Law Modernized
    Book Description:

    Braybrooke challenges received scholarly opinion by arguing that canonical theorists Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Rousseau took St Thomas Aquinas as their point of reference, reinforcing rather than departing from his natural law theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7758-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Chapter One Did Medieval Natural Law Die Out?
    (pp. 3-28)

    Natural Law Modernizedis a deliberately ambiguous title. Ambiguous, too, is the project of the book, which may be described as 'modernizing medieval natural law theory.' This fuller description does distinguish what is at issue in the book from the 'natural law' position in late-twentieth-century jurisprudence. There the reference to natural law may mean simply that there are moral rules, more basic than ordinary (positive) laws, which these must express or satisfy. Various views of moral rules might serve in this connection, most of them different in perspective, and perhaps different, too, in the rules that they champion from the...

  5. Chapter Two Locke's Natural Law and St Thomas's: Secular in Content, Empirical in Foundation
    (pp. 29-53)

    It is easier to establish the presence of a natural law theory like St Thomas's in Locke's case than in the case of the other canonical authors who figure in the present work. The present chapter will take advantage of this fact, first, to establish a firm footing for medieval natural law theory in the seventeenth century – modern times – as exemplified by my canonical authors. But, second, in the course of expounding Locke's position and demonstrating a basic convergence with St Thomas's, I shall be showing how a secular natural law theory can be detached from the theistic...

  6. Chapter Three Rousseau and St Thomas on the Common Good
    (pp. 54-89)

    The Common Good is a key notion in natural law theory. According to the theory, genuine moral rules, the natural laws, are the rules that people in a society must obey in order to achieve the Common Good. St Thomas builds this point into his principal definition of a law – a genuine law: 'An ordinance of reason for the Common Good made by the authority who has care of the community and promulgated' (ST, la 2ae, Q.90, 4). The Common Good may be taken here to embrace both the good of the political community as such ('the specifically political...

  7. Chapter Four Hobbes Allied with St Thomas: An Axiomatic System of Laws
    (pp. 90-124)

    Thomas Hobbes, with his unrelenting reliance on self-interest in the exposition of his ethical and political theory, and the licence that he gives for mayhem, murder, and cannibalism under the Right of Nature, may seem to be operating worlds apart from the perspective of natural law theory. Certainly, Hobbes is on these points very different in spirit from St Thomas. Leo Strauss, as we have seen,¹ holds that with other exponents of natural law in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Hobbes is radically different with respect to the content and application of natural law. Modern natural law in general, Strauss...

  8. Chapter Five David Hume: Natural Law Theorist and Moral Realist
    (pp. 125-146)

    Natural law theory founds moral judgments on what, given the nature of human beings and ever-present circumstances, enables people to live together in thriving communities. The cognitive features of moral judgments – the claims of literal truth for these judgments about these matters and the readiness to have the judgments stand or fall with the evidence for those claims (the two features by which Geoffrey Sayre-McCord defines moral realism)¹ – come front and centre with this characterization of natural law theory. Both what is good for human beings and what it is right and wrong for them to do are...

  9. Chapter Six From Private Property in Hume and Locke to the Universality of Natural Laws
    (pp. 147-177)

    The rules governing private property – in particular, the rules that are supposed to hold under 'property' in the narrow sense of estate – as Locke conceived them in theSecond Treatiseare demonstrably not natural laws universally valid in all societies; nor are they valid in a diachronic comparison with the sort of society that might develop from one in which they prevail. They are at best deductions or constructions suited only to particular circumstances, especially and perhaps uniquely the circumstances of a society of subsistence farmers with ample land, some of it still unclaimed (in Locke's case, disregarding...

  10. Chapter Seven With Us Still: Natural Law Theory Illustrated Today in the Work of David Copp
    (pp. 178-195)

    David Copp, in his ambitious attempt to produce a comprehensive ethical theory,Morality, Normativity, and Society(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), does not once cite St Thomas. Copp mentions natural law only in passing, and then not as a variety of ethical theory, but as a position in the philosophy of law opposed to legal positivism.¹ All of this is in keeping with Copp's general omission to consider historic precedents for his combination of a 'standard-based theory' of moral propositions with a 'society-centered theory' of moral standards. Copp's combined theory amounts notwithstanding to a version of the same secular...

  11. Chapter Eight Moral Education
    (pp. 196-220)

    The Common Good, as specified in an earlier chapter, consists of public goods, in the economists' technical sense, some of which are goods answering specially to the interests of people with public spirit and communal feeling. The motivations of people in whom such feeling reaches the pitch of wholehearted commitment to the Common Good far transcend the motivations of rational egoists, not to speak of the motivations displayed in the cruelty that human beings often practise upon one another, both person to person and en masse. Does that make the availability of the transcendent motivations an extravagant expectation? There are...

  12. Chapter Nine Epilogue: The Lasting Strength of Natural Law Theory in Jurisprudence
    (pp. 221-242)

    To cut a convincing figure again in jurisprudence – to which I turn in this final chapter, an epilogue to the main argument of the book – natural law theory, by which I mean and shall mean as I have meant throughout the book, traditional natural law theory, basically the theory of St Thomas combined with the theories of the modern authors that I have treated, must be made convincing again in ethics. Otherwise, it can hardly make much of the traditional claim that to be genuine laws must accord with this ethics. A number of things need to be...

  13. APPENDIX: Natural Law in Philosophical Traditions outside the Christian West
    (pp. 243-294)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 295-346)
  15. Index
    (pp. 347-351)