Morality and the Human Goods: An Introduction to Natural Law Ethics
Webber, Jay, First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life
By ALFONSO GOMEZ-LOBO. Georgetown University Press. 142 pp. $17.95 paper.
Alfonso Gomez-Lobo addresses this book "primarily to students and readers not formally trained in philosophy who feel the need for a reliable conceptual structure for their own thinking in the midst of the confusing array of moral views expressed today." He serves that audience well with his short, clear guide on how to employ the natural law tradition in daily moral decision-making. Gomez-Lobo begins his road map of "the mainstream tradition of the Western moral philosophy" with a quick synopsis of Plato's Crito. It is a starting point from which he describes the universal nature of moral reasoning. He first establishes what he terms the "Formal Principle," or the first principle of practical rationality: "One should pursue what is good and one should avoid what is bad." Once he establishes that, the author explains that in order to live a moral life, one must do more than merely adopt the Formal Principle. Though true, the Formal Principle cannot tell us what is good or bad. It merely tells us what we should do once we determine what is good or bad. The hard--and fun--part is distinguishing the good from th bad. To make that determination, Gomez-Lobo takes the reader through the thought process of how to recognize what he terms the "basic ingredients of human flourishing. …