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.
Natural Law and Order
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles III.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, “Treatise on Law.”
Alisdair McIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?
John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights.
Henry Veatch, Human Rights: Fact or Fancy?
David S. Crawford
Associate Professor of Moral Theology and Family Law
Dr. Crawford’s teaching spans the areas of moral theology and philosophical ethics, the theological and philosophical anthropology of marriage and family, and legal and political philosophy. His publications address human action, natural law, homosexuality, “gender identity,” and the anthropological implications of modern civil law.Learn More