Natural Law, Common Good, and the Body

JPI 1003

Natural law, Thomas tells us, is an ordination of reason to the common good. Yet, there is little agreement how to understand natural law. In what way is natural law natural? In what way is it law? For its part, the “common good” (bonum commune) also remains obscure. There is little agreement over its exact meaning. As one scholar put it, the only constituents that seem certain are also definitional, even tautological: the “common good” must be both “good” and “common.” But what constitutes “good” and “common” remains obscure and is hotly debated. The class proposes that the body, which places the human person within both nature and community, constitutes a privileged locus for recuperating an integrated understanding of natural law and common good, since it makes both our nature and our natural relations visible.

Readings will include: St. Thomas (Summa Contra Gentiles), I. Kant, J. Maritain, Ch. de Koninck, B. Tierney, J. Rawls, and St. John Paul II.

Associated Faculty

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