Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-dnltx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-21T03:46:44.603Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

8 - Natural Law, Common Morality, and Particularity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 September 2009

Mark C. Murphy
Affiliation:
Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University
William M. Sullivan
Affiliation:
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education
Will Kymlicka
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
Get access

Summary

What a Natural Law Theory Claims

My aim here is to provide an account of how an adherent of the natural law tradition should approach the topic of the desirability of a uniform planetary ethic.

The term ‘natural law theory’ is notoriously slippery, and there are uses of it that are so broad as to fail to distinguish it from a variety of moral views (for example, utilitarianism, Kantianism) with which it is customarily taken to compete. While much is controversial about the definition of ‘natural law theory,’ it is not controversial that Thomas Aquinas is the paradigmatic natural law theorist, and that there are certain general features of Aquinas's view that structure his ethical thought. So I will take these features of Aquinas's view to be what distinguishes natural law theory from other moral views. What are those features?

For Aquinas, natural law can be examined from the ‘God's eye’ and the ‘human's eye’ points of view. When we focus on God's role as the giver of the natural law, the natural law is just one aspect of divine providence. When we focus on the human's role as recipient of the natural law, the natural law constitutes the principles of practical rationality, those principles by which human action is to be judged as reasonable or unreasonable.

I will here put to the side Aquinas's emphasis that the natural law is tied to divine providence, instead focusing on the natural law as the basis of practical reasoning.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Globalization of Ethics
Religious and Secular Perspectives
, pp. 134 - 150
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

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 Dropbox.

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.

Available formats
×