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12 - Political Theory and Natural Law

from Part IV - Applied Natural Law Ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2019

Tom Angier
Affiliation:
University of Cape Town
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Summary

Natural law is part of an ethical theory, guiding our moral actions. The question I would like to discuss in this chapter is the implications of natural law theory for the political order. If someone were to take natural law ethics as a starting point, what principles of political life would flow from it?

This chapter will begin with a description of the fundamental principles of natural law ethics (in its classic form, in Thomas Aquinas), noting the importance of its integral connection with a virtue ethics and a philosophical anthropology. From there, I will try to unfold the moral principles that guide political and social life, drawing the connections between them and general natural law principles.

A brief preliminary point: the classical exposition of natural law in Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae occurs in a theological context, and philosophical and theological arguments overlap a good deal.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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