Natural Law and Order
The seminar will ask about the nature of natural law. It would seem that “natural law” would have to be both a kind of “law” and in some way “natural.” But how are we to understand these two terms? Thomas tells us that natural law is the participation of the rational creature in God’s eternal law. He also tells us that any law is a dictate or ordination of reason and that it is ordered to a common good. What is meant by reason and common good here? Does natural law appeal to an order contained objectively in creation? Does natural law depend on belief in creation and hence a Creator, at least implicitly? Does it at least require a doctrine of nature? If law in any of its analogous senses necessarily implies some idea of “order,” what sort of order is natural law and what is the source of that order? Many different answers have been given to these questions. Readings will include both classical and modern texts: St. Thomas, H. Veatch, J. Finnis, and others.