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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2019

Tom Angier
Affiliation:
University of Cape Town
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Summary

Natural law ethics is a normative theory, which, as its name implies, centres on two key notions: nature and law. It is animated by the idea that nature, and human nature in particular, is the source and ground of the moral laws (or, more widely, moral norms) which govern our nature. Historically, the ‘nature’ component was first theorised in Ancient Greece and Rome, where philosophers argued that human beings are intrinsically directed to and fulfilled by certain ends – the claim of natural teleology. The ‘law’ component found its most pronounced embodiment far earlier, in the scriptures of Ancient Israel, which proclaim a binding set of moral commandments that issue from a transcendent deity. The history of natural law ethics is, put broadly, a mediation between these two cultural inheritances – and is therefore the site of several recurrent controversies. How, exactly, are moral norms embedded in nature?

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Tom Angier, University of Cape Town
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Natural Law Ethics
  • Online publication: 21 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525077.001
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Tom Angier, University of Cape Town
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Natural Law Ethics
  • Online publication: 21 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525077.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Tom Angier, University of Cape Town
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Natural Law Ethics
  • Online publication: 21 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525077.001
Available formats
×