Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law

Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law

Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law

Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law

Synopsis

Common Truths brings together the best minds writing on one of today's most important and heated issues: natural law. This diverse group of thinkers addresses the theoretical, historical, and--in a section of particular importance--the legislative and juridical aspects of natural law. A revival of natural law concepts, the essayists argue, is crucial to the refurbishing of American civil society. Anyone wanting to understand what the natural law is and why it matters will find this engaging book indispensable.

Excerpt

Common Truths comprises lectures delivered as part of the distinguished Goodrich Lecture Series at Wabash College and reflects the growing interest in natural law. Each chapter is predicated on the desirability of replacing the dominant school of positive law and its majoritarian legitimating principle with a commitment to natural law doctrines, which alone are capable of providing the informing principles necessary for a vital, free, and virtuous society. The contributors make cogent arguments for the necessity of restoring natural law as the basis for our social and legal order but are realistic about such a prospect. The essayists agree that if any hope remains of refurbishing our civil social order, it lies in reasserting the unassailably valid natural law standards of right conduct as a guide to all human action and choice.

Natural law doctrines reject standards of conduct that come from human will only, that bear no imprimatur other than the desires of the individuals who promulgate the rules of behavior. Such positivist standards foster individual arrogance and, indeed, operate to dissolve society's capacities for functioning and sustaining itself. But a society does not intentionally set itself on a course of destruction. To shore up the legitimacy of its system of law, a positivist society must therefore establish a "new religion." Given its secular premises, however, such a reli-

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