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The Natural Law Reader

Jacqueline A. Laing (Editor), Russell Wilcox (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-33321-3 September 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 458 Pages


The Natural Law Reader features a selection of readings in metaphysics, jurisprudence, politics, and ethics that are all related to the classical Natural Law tradition in the modern world.

  • Features a concise presentation of the natural law position that offers the reader a focal point for discussion of ancient and contemporary ideas in the natural law tradition
  • Draws upon the metaphysical and ethical categories put forth and developed by Aristotle and Aquinas
  • Points to the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the Natural Law tradition
  • Reflects on a revival of interest in the tradition of virtue ethics and human rights

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Acknowledgements xi

1 General Introduction 1

2 Historical Readings 5

2.1 Ancient 7

Introduction 7

2.1.1 Heraclitus, Fragments 11

2.1.2 Sophocles, Antigone 13

2.1.3 The Hippocratic Oath 14

2.1.4 Plato, Apology 15

2.1.5 Plato, Crito 22

2.1.6 Plato, Phaedo 28

2.1.7 Plato, Laws 34

2.1.8 Plato, Republic 40

2.1.9 Aristotle, Rhetoric and Nicomachean Ethics 48

2.1.10 Aristotle, Politics 63

2.1.11 Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations 66

2.1.12 Cicero, The Republic, Book III 69

2.1.13 Cicero, The Laws 71

2.1.14 The Holy Bible, Romans 2: 1–16 80

2.2 Early Christian and Medieval 81

Introduction 81

2.2.1 Tertullian, Against Marcion and Apologeticus 86

2.2.2 Justinian, The Institutes 90

2.2.3 St. Augustine 93

Confessions 93

On Eighty Three Diverse Questions 94

Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount 94

De libero arbitrio (The Free Choice of the Will) 95

De Trinitate 95

25th Sermon on Psalm 118 96

Letter 157 (Epist., 157) 96

2.2.4 St. Augustine, The City of God 97

2.2.5 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles

(Of God and His Creatures) 107

2.2.6 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 113

2.2.7 Ibn Sina, A Treatise on Love 137

2.2.8 Ibn Rushd, On the Harmony of Religions and Philosophy 146

2.2.9 Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 155

2.2.10 Moses Maimonides, The Eight Chapters of Maimonides

on Ethics (Shemonah Perakim) 158

2.3 Early Modern 167

Introduction 167

2.3.1 Francisco de Vitoria, De Indis et De Iure Belli Relectiones 173

2.3.2 Francisco Suarez, De Legibus 182

2.3.3 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan 190

2.3.4 Hugo Grotius, On the Law of War and Peace

(De Jure Belli ac Pacis) 195

2.3.5 Samuel von Pufendorf, De Officio Hominis et Civis

Juxta Legem Naturalem Libri Duo 201

2.3.6 John Locke, Second Treatise of Government 205

2.3.7 Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws

of England in Four Books 210

2.4 Modern 213

Introduction 213

2.4.1 Heinrich Rommen, The Natural Law: A Study in Legal

and Social History and Philosophy 218

2.4.2 Jacques Maritain, Man and State 221

2.4.3 Yves Simon, Nature and Functions of Authority 228

2.4.4 A. D’Entreves, “A Rational Foundation of Ethics” 230

2.4.5 Gustav Radbruch, “Five Minutes of Legal Philosophy” 232

2.4.6 G.E.M. Anscombe, “Mr Truman’s Degree” 234

2.4.7 M.K. Gandhi, selected excerpts on the existence

of a superior law 235

2.4.8 Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham

City Jail (first version) 237

2.4.9 John Finnis, “Natural Law” 238

2.4.10 Servais Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics 245

3 Contemporary Natural Law 251

3.1 Ethical 253

Introduction 253

3.1.1 G.E.M. Anscombe, “Modern Moral Philosophy” 256

3.1.2 Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue 261

3.1.3 Charles Taylor, “Irreducibly Social Goods” 265

3.1.4 P.T. Geach, “Good and Evil” 270

3.1.5 Philippa Foot, “Human Goodness” 277

3.1.6 Michael Thompson, “Apprehending Human Form” 286

3.1.7 J. Murillo, “Health as a Norm and Principle of Intelligibility” 294

3.2 Jurisprudence 297

Introduction 297

3.2.1 Debates and Clarifications 301 R.P. George, Making Men Moral 301 Norman Kretzmann, “Lex Iniusta Non est Lex:

Laws on Trial in Aquinas’ Court of Conscience” 309

3.2.2 “New” and “Old” Natural Law Debate 318 R.P. George, “Recent Criticism of the Natural

Law Theory” 318 Stephen L. Brock, “Natural Inclination and the

Intelligibility of the Good in Thomistic Natural Law” 323 Daniel McInerny, “Hierarchy and Direction

for Choice” 329 Steven D. Smith, “Natural Law and Contemporary

Moral Thought: A Guide from the Perplexed” 336

3.3 Metaphysical, Social, and Critical 341

Introduction 341

3.3.1 David S. Oderberg, “Hylemorphic Dualism” 344

3.3.2 Anthony J. Lisska, “The Metaphysical Presuppositions of

Natural Law in Thomas Aquinas: A New Look at Some

Old Questions” 346

3.3.3 Russell Wilcox, “Natural Law and the Foundations

of Social Theory” 356

3.3.4 Alasdair MacIntyre, “Theories of Natural Law

in the Culture of Advanced Modernity” 363

4 Applied Natural Law 367

4.1 Procreation and the Family 369

Introduction 369

4.1.1 Servais Pinckaers, “Inclination to Sexuality” 372

4.1.2 G.E.M. Anscombe, Contraception and Chastity 377

4.1.3 Jacqueline A. Laing, “Law, Liberalism and

the Common Good” 379

4.2 Medical Ethics and Biotechnology 389

Introduction 389

4.2.1 Patrick Lee and Robert P. George, “The Nature and Basis

of Human Dignity” 392

4.2.2 Daniel Callahan, “When Self-Determination Runs Amok” 401

4.2.3 Leon R. Kass, “Triumph or Tragedy? The Moral Meaning

of Genetic Technology” 408

4.2.4 Finn Bowring, “The Cyborg Solution” 415

4.3 Human Rights 425

Introduction 425

4.3.1 John Finnis, “Natural Law” 428

4.3.2 Mary Ann Glendon, “Foundations of Human Rights:

The Unfinished Business” 431

4.3.3 James V. Schall, “Human Rights as an Ideological Project” 438

“This volume is a fine addition to an increasing number of books on the subject.  Its conception reflects the renewal of interest in the natural law tradition over the past half-century or so. In popularising and making readily accessible a vast canon of essays for the benefit of the seasoned academic as much as the newcomer in the fields of jurisprudence, ethics, and political philosophy, the editors have produced an anthology which, I am confident, will serve as an invaluable contribution to that renewal.”  (New Blackfriars, 9 April 2015)