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Public Discourse: Catholic sexual ethics are as fully reasonable today as they were in the time of St Paul. In fact, the natural law understanding of human fulfillment is inherently intelligible even without a theistic framework.
Public Discourse: The anti-slavery arguments of American abolitionists demonstrate the way in which Lockean natural rights and Thomistic natural law can be reconciled.
Public Discourse: While Adam Seagrave offers a provocative and original reading of Locke, his assumptions about the self and ownership are deeply problematic.
Ed Whelan at NRO: “In his excellent lecture, Judge O’Scannlain explores Story’s understanding of natural law, including its foundation in man’s inherent and unchangeable nature. He contrasts Story’s understanding with the ‘fundamental philosophical premise’ of Planned Parenthood v. Casey and other recent rulings—namely, that the law ‘cannot assume that human nature has an objective reality.’”
Vatican Information Service: “The link between Christianity and freedom is thus original and profound”, he continued. “It has its roots in the teaching of Christ himself and Saint Paul appears as one of its most strenuous and brilliant defenders. Freedom is intrinsic to Christianity, for it was, as Paul says, for freedom that Christ set us free”. While the Apostle referred to interior freedom, this “naturally also has consequences for society”.
Walter Williams at CNSNews: The idea that one person should be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another has served as the foundation of mankind’s ugliest and most brutal regimes. Do we want that for America?
Conscience is not simply self-will, it is subject to the moral law | Robert George at Public Discourse
Robert George at Public Discourse: Conscience and Its Reviewers: A Response to Kevin Doyle
Kevin Doyle’s review of Robert George’s new book is based on a fundamental error. Conscience, rightly understood, is not simply self-will. Rather, conscience identifies one’s duties under the moral law.
Acton Institute: In his new book, Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing (The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2013), Samuel Gregg draws on Catholic social teaching and the thought of Charles Carroll of colonial Maryland – the only Catholic Signer of America’s Declaration of Independence – to make a powerful case for the enduring value of economic freedom and the role it plays in sustaining America’s unique experiment in political and religious liberty.
Baptist Press: Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in an article on Religion News Service Sept. 3 that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad is “lawless and tyrannical,” and the first principle of just war — a just cause — has been met.
Alan Sears at Townhall: Speaking to those gathered at the breakfast, Reagan said: Those who created our country — the Founding Fathers and Mothers — understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion.
Joshua Schulz at Public Discourse: As the ecumenical group Evangelicals and Catholics Together recently argued, to hold that rights protect duties makes it clear why religious freedom—which allows believers to fulfill their basic obligation to seek God in all areas of life—is prior to every other freedom: the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of press, the freedom to assemble and so discuss, and seek, and live out our convictions with others, the freedom to form and sustain distinctive institutions dedicated to these activities, and above all the freedom to worship—all of these freedoms are necessary for religious freedom. Religious freedom is not one freedom among others; rather, it is the foundation of every other freedom.
David Azerrad at Public Discourse: The Declaration of Independence contains the clearest, most concise, and most eloquent articulation of the American creed: a political definition of man in two axioms, and three corollary propositions on government . . . Natural human equality is the first axiom of the American creed . . . The second axiom of the American creed is that human beings are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” . . .
Same-sex marriage decisions beg question, should America’s new motto be ‘in polls we trust’? | Cal Thomas at Fox News
Cal Thomas at Fox News: The problem for people who believe in an Authority higher even than the Constitution is that in our increasingly secular and indifferent society it has become more difficult to persuade those who do not subscribe to an immutable standard to accept that view.
“Ryan Anderson’s uphill fight to change young minds on gay marriage” | Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Washington Post
Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Washington Post: Vincent Munoz, a political science professor at Notre Dame, said Anderson is one of the brightest students he has ever met. “He possesses a remarkable ability to translate philosophical principles into public arguments,” Munoz said. “Faith is certainly an integral aspect to Ryan, but his arguments are grounded in philosophical reasoning.”
We Stand in Solidarity to Defend Marriage and the Family and Society Founded Upon Them | Freedom Federation
The statement is available here in pdf format.
Samuel Gregg at Public Discourse: Natural law does not demand capitalism, but we can deduce from natural law that some institutions that are key to market economies are normally just, while practices key to socialist arrangements are usually unjust.
Robert P. George at Public Discourse: Is the fundamental and essential point of forming the polity the polity itself, or is the polity primarily a means of protecting and achieving many other valuable ends?
Man the Political Animal: On the Intrinsic Goodness of Political Community | Michael W. Hannon at Public Discourse
Michael W. Hannon at Public Discourse: Our arguments for limited government should recognize political community as an intrinsic good, not mistake it for a merely instrumental one.
Christopher O. Tollefsen at Public Discourse: The Gosnell case shows us that a society’s laws teach, and if they teach a lesson of injustice they will corrupt its people over time. Indeed, contemporary abortion jurisprudence undermines the very notion of natural rights and constitutional government.
CNSNews: Miami’s Catholic archbishop, Thomas Wenski, said establishing “gay marriage” would corrupt the natural setting for rearing children by a mother and a father, and further spread “moral relativism,” one of the signs that democracy is “on its way to totalitarianism.”
Christopher C. Roberts at First Things: Consider: If marriage is grounded in the procreative potential of sexual difference, then it is grounded in something prior to the human will, and therefore prior to positive law. If marriage is the way we humanize and acculturate mammalian mating, then marriage has a rationale with which government interacts but which government does not invent.
Charles J. Chaput at Public Discourse: America’s founding documents assume an implicitly religious anthropology–an idea of human nature, nature’s God, and natural rights–that many of our leaders no longer share. Adapted from testimony submitted to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Nathan Schlueter at Public Discourse: To reject the presence of natural law in documents of the Founding era is to embrace both cynicism and romanticism.
Pascal Emmanuel Gobry at The American Scene: But of course, as any freshman philosophy student can tell, the problem comes when you try to ground those universal human rights. Where do they come from? Who confers them? Why should they be respected? There’s basically only two ways to do so, one theistic and one non-theistic. Universal human rights are perfectly grounded if they come from God, as the Declaration of Independence asserts and as I believe in my heart of hearts. But not everybody likes that, and it sort of defeats the purpose of creating this secular moral system to begin with. The only other way that I’m aware of to ground the idea of universal human rights is in, wait for it, the natural law.
One News: Christian attorney John Mauck argues that natural law and common sense provide ample reason to preserve marriage as it has always been understood — the union of one man and one woman.
Alan Sears at the Human Life International Truth and Charity Forum: The 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky once wisely said, “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” Christians continue to wage a political and legal battle against a predominantly secular culture about the law and the meaning of life—both increasingly corrupted by what Blessed Pope John Paul II coined a “culture of death.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at Jerusalem Post: No Holds Barred: The Guttmacher Institute’s data that 85% of all abortions take place outside of marriage would have us address the subject not as a social wedge issue but by cultivating a culture that commits to marriage.
Amanda Marcotte at Slate: Given the choice between two stereotypes—the passive princess whose charm and beauty brings a man to one knee or an insecure needball who nagged a reluctant man into marriage—women will pick the former every time. In order to change that, we’d have to dramatically restructure our cultural understanding of gender and romance, away from stereotypes of promiscuous men who love only reluctantly and overeager women who just want to put a ring on it.
Volokh Conspiracy (video embedded): The Fifth Annual Rosenkranz Debate was held last Saturday during The Federalist Society’s 2012 National Lawyers Convention. The topic was “Natural Law Should Inform Constitutional Law” although I think the title should have been “Natural Rights Should Inform Constitutional Law” since that was what was actually debated. The advocates were Prof. Hadley P. Arkes (Edward N. Ney Professor in American Institutions, Amherst College) and Judge Alex Kozinski (Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit). It was moderated by Judge Thomas B. Griffith (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit).
R.J. Snell at Public Discourse: Naïve proponents and skeptics of the natural law often point to the world “out there” as the source of objective truth (or lack thereof), but the truths of the natural law are to be found through the actions of our intellect.
The 7 Point Argument Against Legalizing Homosexual “Marriage” | Nathan Cherry at Engage Family Minute Blog
Nathan Cherry at Engage Family Minute Blog: continue to hear people say that our society should just legalize same-sex “marriage” and be done with the whole issue. They reason that allowing homosexuals to marry will not severely alter the lives of others in any significant way so it would be best for everyone to legalize marriage and move forward. But Jennifer Thieme has written an article which expertly sums up the out of control spiral that legalizing same-sex “marriage” would induce . . . .
Hadley Arkes at Right Reason: In short, then, without the moral understanding sustained now mainly by the religious, it would be hard to take seriously the notion that there are natural rights that command our respect because they are grounded in truths about “the human person.” That is the case for religion as a natural right, and the measure of our desperation is that, in the current state of our public life, the bishops find the gravest test of their preparation and learning as they try to explain the matter to their own public in a post-literate age.
Washington Post: Tonight’s speech is Obama’s last chance to take a first step toward accommodation with a country increasingly concerned about his unmasked determination to “transform” what the Founders considered “fundamentals.”
Hadley Arkes at National Review: For it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them.
Michael Skowera at News Tribune: For thousands of years this has been man’s basis for marriage and family. If government, under the laws of man, wishes to extend special benefits to same-sex individuals choosing to live together; that is it’s right under the laws of man. Call it a civil union, a pairing, whatever; just don’t call it something it’s not: a marriage. Through man’s presumptuousness, we believe because man says something, it is always true, that two males or two females can be married the same as one man and one woman. The Laws of Nature (read: God) simply don’t allow it. And as Mr. Olesen stated, “It’s as simple as that.
Turtle Bay and Beyond: Last year a resolution was passed the by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva requesting a study on the relation of “universal traditional values” and human rights. The study was to be prepared by the Advisory Committee of the HRC. In February a first draft of the study, by the Russian expert on the committee Vladimir Kartashkin, was discussed by the advisory committee.
Catholic Culture: Cardinal George observes:
Piero Tozzi: Not “rights” Vs. “freedom” – Reclaiming The Universal Declaration From The Left (and Defending It From The Right)
Piero Tozzi at Turtle Bay and Beyond: A word of caution is in order before adopting the framework and verbiage proposed by McCarthy in its entirety, however, for he throws out the baby with the bathwater, and his characterization of the “utopian” Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 fails to give a rounded appraisal of that landmark document. Moreover, his underlying premise of “freedoms” vs. “rights” is historically both incorrect and unessential to adopt in order to get to where the author wants to lead us. The concept of “rights,” properly understood, was very much part of the Founding Fathers’ vocabulary — as in the “bill of rights” (!!) and “unalienable rights” based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” The tension is thus not between “rights” and “freedoms,” but rather between “negative rights” and “positive” ones — a tension that is reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Turtle Bay and Beyond: This week the Human Rights Committee, charged with monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights began its 104th session. It affords us an opportunity to reflect on how UN Bodies are undermining both the natural law and positive law when they promote so called rights to abortion and LGBT rights . . .
Robert C. Koons at Public Discourse: It would be wrong for the United States to engage at this time in an attack on Iran or to participate substantially in an Israeli action.
LifeNews: Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government’s decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations.
Robert P. George at Public Discourse: Every member of the community has an interest in the quality of the culture that will shape their experiences, their quality of life, and the choices effectively available to them and their children.
ISI’s American Studies Institute: 1) What led you to become a political philosopher? The intellectual experience that changed my life, placing me on the path to becoming a professor and a political philosopher, was reading Plato’s dialogue Gorgias in a political philosophy seminar I took as an undergraduate at Swarthmore. Socrates’s questions to Gorgias and his other interlocutors in the dialogue led me to question my own beliefs and values. They made me think about existential, social, and political questions that I had not before paused to consider. My encounter with the dialogue caused me to see, for the first time, the overriding value of truth and the importance of the pursuit of truth, not merely as a means to other ends, but above all for its own sake.
Robert George at Mirror of Justice: During my recent visit to Notre Dame to participate in the wonderful conference in honor of John Finnis organized by Gerry Bradley, I also had the opportunity to give a lecture for the ND Law School Federalist Society chapter. The campus newspaper called the Irish Rover has published a story on my remarks, but the reporter, though plainly well-intentioned, didn’t quite manage to report everything accurately. So here is the text of what I actually said . . .
ADF President and General Counsel Alan E. Sears at Townhall: Freedom is more than “just another word for nothing left to lose.” It is an ordered framework of liberty for which our Founders risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. As such, it should be extended to people of every race and tribe, and of every faith and tradition. This applies to those who value the Judeo-Christian tradition as much as it applies to anyone else.
Butculescu, Claudiu Ramon, Consideration Regarding Natural Law in Common-Law Systems (April 26, 2010). DINAMICA DREPTULUI ROMÂNESC DUPĂ ADERAREA LA UNIUNEA EUROPEANĂ. COMUNICĂRI PREZENTATE LA SESIUNEA ŞTIINŢIFICĂ A INSTITUTULUI DE CERCETĂRI JURIDICE, 2010 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1907350 The traits of …
Walter E. Williams at Townhall: Decent people should not obey immoral laws. What’s moral and immoral can be a contentious issue, but there are some broad guides for deciding what laws and government actions are immoral.
The University Bookman: Directions Back to the Public Square: About a third of the way through the book is an essay by Piero A. Tozzi, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, wherein the decline of universal rights is demonstrated to help the reader see that—minus an acknowledgement of, and adherence to, universal rights—the losses suffered by the Church must also be suffered by society at large. For instance, Tozzi writes about the “restoration” of ’48: a moment wherein both Europe and the world were emerging from the Nuremburg trials and subsequently reaching for “a universe whose rules were governed by natural law.” There was bald revulsion at what the Nazis had done, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was penned to serve as a restraint on such things in the future. Tozzi is describing a point in time where even the secularists were brought face to face with the heinous outworking of Nietzsche’s “God is dead” paradigm, and even they had to seek a means to constrain behavior by re-asserting universal rights across the board.
Christian Newswire: In a new and revised edition of his groundbreaking work, “What We Can’t Not Know”, Professor J. Budziszewski challenges the modern assumption that moral truth is obscure or even unattainable. With clear, logical arguments he rehabilitates the natural law tradition, restoring confidence in a moral code based upon human nature.
Michael Young, In Defense of Minimal, Naive Natural Law (December 26, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1731330
“This paper articulates a defense of a minimal natural law view in two ways. First, it argues that a minimal natural law view – a view which affirms that the law itself is intrinsically valuable, reason-giving, and normative – is compatible with a weak view of legal obligation, and with a sharp distinction between law and morality. Second, this paper argues (albeit indirectly, in a methodological way) for the naive view that the law’s seeming normativity is best explained by the law’s being really normative, in itself and in abstraction from any further circumstance or social facts. The naive view, I argue, is or seems to be our own pre-theoretical view of the law. Yet, the positivist project, as traditionally understood, is committed to denying this intuitive naive view; on the positivist view, the law may really give reasons in some circumstances, but it does not give reasons necessarily, that is, it is not intrinsically reason-giving. This paper argues that the positivist project consequently has a skeptical burden to bear: it must show that all those (including most readers, and including, I suspect, even most positivists) who have some minimal, natural law intuitions are probably confused or mistaken. The positivist has this burden because it is a grounding assumption of the positivist project that the thing to be theorized by a legal philosopher is not any normative thing; unless this assumption is justified, the entire positivist project stands unsupported, and must be dispreferred to the naive view. Addressing the reasons which might be offered for the skeptical conclusion, including the theories and arguments of Joseph Raz and Andrei Marmor, this paper concludes that the positivist burden remains.”
Donald R. McConnell, Professor of Law at the Trinity Law School of Trinity International University, writing at Trinitarian Don: “One of the strange questions in Christian legal philosophy is why most Protestant Christians no longer believe in the doctrine of natural law – the idea that there is an unwritten identical trans-cultural objective moral standard accessible to all human beings . . . One major reason Protestants tend not to believe in natural law is they think natural law is incompatible with a strong view of the fall . . . A second reason many Protestants do not believe in natural law is kindred to the first: this is the belief man’s reason is fouled by sin and hence does not support moral knowledge . . . The third reason many Protestants do not accept natural law is that they have never heard a proper explanation of it.”
Video of Rick Santorum and Hadley Arkes at Thomas More College: Natural law and the Catholic statesman in 21st century America
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts: “In a symposium sponsored by Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, nearly 200 visitors gathered to listen as three prominent figures addressed the role of the Catholic statesman in 21st century America—in the light of the example of St. Thomas More, and of the legacy of President John F. Kennedy’s epochal ‘Houston Speech,’ in which then-Senator Kennedy promised an audience of Protestant ministers that he would keep his political conscience free of Catholic influence. It is a promise that the Kennedy family and its political heirs would keep with a vengeance, as the symposium revealed.”
Matthew O’Brien writes at Public Discourse: “In my review of Hadley Arkes’ book Constitutional Illusions I criticized Arkes’ account of natural law ethics. My main complaint was that Arkes’ aspirations for what natural law ethics could accomplish were unrealistic, and that in particular his argument for grounding morality in “laws of reason” such as the principle of non-contradiction was unsuccessful. Now Professor Arkes has issued a friendly challenge to me in reply: If he is wrong, then what’s the alternative? And in a healthy Socratic spirit, Arkes wants examples. How would I demonstrate the wrongfulness of racial discrimination, for instance, if not by showing that racists necessarily contradict themselves?”
Hadley Arkes writes at Public Discourse: “The most serious criticism [Matthew O'Brien offered] dealt with . . . what he sees as a Kantian strain seeking to find the ground of our moral judgments in ‘the laws of reason.’ The anchoring proposition in the laws of reason is of course the law of contradiction, and the test then of any proposition claiming the standing of a necessary truth, a first principle, is that it cannot be contradicted . . . Might MacIntyre or Anscombe, or any of these other writers we both esteem, offer a more satisfying account of natural law—and a sounder judgment in rendering a just decision in these cases? Let’s make sure that this account, or judgment, is not dependent on claims that are merely probabilistic and which may not hold true from one case or place to another. And let’s make sure that it doesn’t depend merely on generalizations about our fellow humans, which may not hold true all the time.”
Perry Dane, The Natural Law Challenge to Choice of Law (November 17, 2010). THE ROLE OF ETHICS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, Donald Earl Childress III, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1710904
“Would a jurisdiction supremely confident that some or all of its own municipal law rests on natural law and universal legal truth ever have a good, purely principled, reason to look to ordinary choice of law principles and apply the substantive law of another place in a case involving foreign elements? This essay, a chapter in an upcoming volume on ‘The Role of Ethics in International Law,’ suggests several such reasons, some of them grounded in the natural law tradition itself and in sustained analysis of the relationship between natural law (if such a thing exists) and positive law. The essay also suggests at least a rough analogy between the jurisprudential challenges of choice of law and the theological challenges of interreligious encounter. It ends with a short effort apply the general argument to the specific question of the inter-jurisdictional recognition of same-sex marriages.”
Matthew O’Brien reviews Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law (Cambridge University Press) by Hadley Arkes at Public Discourse: “In Constitutional Illusions Arkes revisits in eight chapters a number of the moral, political, and legal problems provoked by American constitutional jurisprudence, which have been the subject of his scholarly and popular writing for nearly fifty years. It is the burden of Arkes’s argument in the book to show that moral reasoning is inescapable—for the average man just as much for the rarified jurist—and to demonstrate the seamless connection between law and morality.”
John Creech writing at The Imaginative Conservative: “This past Wednesday night, Dr. Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideas and Institutions at Princeton University, gave the keynote address at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s annual Red Mass . . . According to Dr. George, natural law theory provides a persuasive alternative to other theories because it can explain two features of human action and experience that other theories, such as utilitarianism and biological determinism, not only cannot explain, but dismiss as mere illusions. Natural law can also account for the fact that most of us act ‘as if’ there are morally binding, objective and universal principles of human conduct, even if we do not believe such principles exist.”
“They marshal evidence that the underlying relationship between economic conservatism and social conservatism is changing. I think they’re right, and I think the Tea Party represents this on the popular level in the same way the new fusionism emerging among conservative intellectuals represents it on the elite level.”
Conn Carroll writing at The Heritage Foundation / The Foundry: “Monday was the third time in a little over a month that President Obama wrote the Creator out of one of our nation’s founding documents . . . And the President is not alone. MSNBC’s new ‘Lean Forward’ Progressive Movement branding campaign also leaves out ‘by their Creator’ from their reading of the Declaration. Again, this is no accident . . . For far too long the American people have allowed the Progressive Movement to read out of existence the checks that America’s Founders placed on government in our founding documents.”
Text of remarks Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered during a tri-diocesan catechetical congress in Victoria, British Columbia, on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, 2010: “[John Courtney] Murray saw that religious freedom is humanity’s first and most basic freedom . . . And any attempt to suppress the right of people to worship, preach, teach, practice, organize and peacefully engage society because of their belief in God is an attack on the cornerstone of human dignity . . . Canadian and American Christians often have trouble understanding the brutality of anti-religious repression or serious religious discrimination. It’s not part of our national heritage. But many millions of Christians are now being persecuted or harassed for their faith around the world. We need to pray for them. And we also need to pray for ourselves. Because we’re not as securely free as we might like to think.”
“Perhaps Judge Vaughn Walker . . . imagined himself a contemporary Socrates when he declared that ‘Tradition alone . . . cannot form a rational basis for a law,’ and ‘the “ancient lineage” of a classification does not make it rational.’”
Law Review: Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life
Brennan, Patrick McKinley, Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life (October 1, 2010). TEACHING THE TRADITION: A DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THE CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION, J. Piderit, M. Morey, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=168605
The Catholic tradition offers a distinctive account of the nature of human law and political authority. This chapter – written for a volume (to be published by Oxford University Press in 2011) that is intended to state the Catholic position(s) on a range of disciplines, from physics and astronomy to medicine and law – both develops the Catholic account of law and demonstrates its “pay off” at the level of contemporary U.S. constitutional law. The core of the argument is that the definition of human law is not a matter of custom or invention: the very definition of law is provided by what is first in the order of being, viz., the eternal law, in which humans in turn participate through the natural law. The natural law is a real law, not just metaphorically law, and it sets binding terms and conditions of human lawmaking. These include that (1) law is always what the lawgiver intended and promulgated and (2) true laws are always just and thus conducive to the good life human beings. The chapter develops these and other claims through an examination of how Buck v. Bell would be decided if Catholic principles of law were to guide the Court. The chapter shows that the Catholic position entails neither judicial “activism” nor passivism, but a much more nuanced role that is a function of the people’s and their rulers’ indefeasible obligation to make the natural law effective in their living.
Law Review: Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life
Patrick McKinley Brennan, Human Law and Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition: Authoritative Guides to the Good Life (October 1, 2010). TEACHING THE TRADITION: A DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THE CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION, J. Piderit, M. Morey, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-18. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1686059
“The Catholic tradition offers a distinctive account of the nature of human law and political authority. This chapter – written for a volume (to be published by Oxford University Press in 2011) that is intended to state the Catholic position(s) on a range of disciplines, from physics and astronomy to medicine and law – both develops the Catholic account of law and demonstrates its “pay off” at the level of contemporary U.S. constitutional law. The core of the argument is that the definition of human law is not a matter of custom or invention: the very definition of law is provided by what is first in the order of being, viz., the eternal law, in which humans in turn participate through the natural law. The natural law is a real law, not just metaphorically law, and it sets binding terms and conditions of human lawmaking. These include that (1) law is always what the lawgiver intended and promulgated and (2) true laws are always just and thus conducive to the good life human beings. The chapter develops these and other claims through an examination of how Buck v. Bell would be decided if Catholic principles of law were to guide the Court. The chapter shows that the Catholic position entails neither judicial ‘activism’ nor passivism, but a much more nuanced role that is a function of the people’s and their rulers’ indefeasible obligation to make the natural law effective in their living.”