Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-Examination

Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-Examination

Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-Examination

Natural Law: An Introduction and Re-Examination

Synopsis

"Howard Kainz surveys the history of natural law from its foreshadowing in ancient Greece down to the most recent controversies. Natural Law both introduces the subject to newcomers and sheds fresh light on such figures as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Veatch, McInerny, Grisez and Finnis." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

He who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason
alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast;
for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers,
even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by
desire.… Customary [unwritten] laws have more weight, and
relate to more important matters, than written laws, and a man
may be a safer ruler than the written law, but not safer than the
customary law
.

— ARISTOTLE, Politics III, 1287a, b

In April 1996 I attended a conference on “Natural Law and Contemporary Public Policy” at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland. I immediately sensed that this conference was different from the other philosophy conferences I had attended, since I was the only person there not wearing a tie. The speakers and most participants at the conference were lawyers and judges and law students; I met only a couple of fellow philosophers there. I was able to borrow a nondescript tie from a bellman at my hotel, and as I attended the sessions made a few further discoveries. For one thing, the lawyers were referring to themselves as “natural lawyers”—an expression I had for some reason never before encountered—and they seemed to feel comfortable with that dtlc, although to me it sounded a bit awkward and could have multiple meanings (as contrasted, for example, with “trained lawyers” or “contrived lawyers” or “metaphysical lawyers,” as well as “positivistic lawyers”). But more importantly, in the presentations by various speakers the emphasis . . .

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