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Is Society-Centered Moral Theory a Contemporary Version of Natural Law Theory?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2009

David Copp*
Affiliation:
University of California, Davis

Abstract

ABSTRACT: David Braybrooke argues that the core of the natural law theory of Thomas Aquinas survived in the work of Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Rousseau. Much to my surprise, Braybrooke argues as well that David Copp’s society-centered moral theory is a secular version of this same natural law theory. Braybrooke makes a good case that there is an important idea about morality that is shared by the great philosophers in his group and that this idea is also found in Copp’s work. The idea is captured by the Functionalist Thesis, the thesis that moral propositions are made true by facts about what, given the nature of human beings and their circumstances, enables people to live together in thriving communities. I argue that Copp can accept Braybrooke’s suggestion and use it to improve his formulation of the basic idea of the society-centered theory.

RÉSUMÉ : David Braybrooke soutient que l’idée centrale de la théorie du droit naturel de Thomas d’Aquin a survécu dans les œuvres de Hobbes, Locke, Hume et Rousseau. À mon grand étonnement, Braybrooke soutient aussi que la théorie morale société-centrique de David Copp est une version séculaire de cette même théorie du droit naturel. Braybrooke argumente de façon convaincante que les œuvres de ces grands philosophes partagent une idée centrale relative à la moralité et que cette idée se retrouve aussi chez Copp. Cette idée est la Thèse Fonctionnaliste, c’est-à-dire la thèse selon laquelle les faits moraux sont des faits concernant ce qui rend les membres de la société capables de vivre ensemble dans des communautés florissantes, étant donné la nature des êtres humains et les circonstances de leurs vies. Je soutiens que Copp peut reprendre à son compte les arguments de Braybrooke, et ainsi améliorer la formulation de l’idée centrale de sa théorie société-centrique.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2009

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References

Aquinas, Thomas 1993 Selected Philosophical Writings. Edited and Translated by McDermott, Timothy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Blackburn, Simon 2006Anti-Realist Expressivism and Quasi-Realism.” In Copp 2006b, pp. 146-62.Google Scholar
Braybrooke, David 2003 Natural Law Modernized. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
Campbell, Richmond 1997Critical Notice of David Copp, Morality, Normativity, and Society.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 27: 423-44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copp, David 2006a “Introduction: Meta-ethics and Normative Ethics.” In Copp 2006b, pp. 3-35.Google Scholar
Copp, David 2006b The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Copp, David 2007a Morality in a Natural World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Copp, David 2007b “Moral Naturalism and Three Grades of Normativity.” In Copp 2007a, pp. 249-83.Google Scholar
Copp, David 2007c “The Normativity of Self-Grounded Reason.” In Copp, 2007a, pp. 309-53.Google Scholar
Copp, David 2009a “Normativity, Deliberation, and Queerness.” In A World without Values: Essays on John Mackie’s Error Theory. Edited by Joyce, Richard and Kirchin, Simon. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
Copp, David 2009b “The Wrong Answer to an Improper Question?” Forthcoming in Canadian Journal of Philosophy, supplementary volume, Reasons to be Moral Revisited.Google Scholar
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Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey 2006Moral Realism.” In Copp 2006b, pp. 39-62.Google Scholar

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