Metaphysical Foundations for Natural Law

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ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.

http://www.owenanderson.net/reviews/AndersonNaturalLaw.pdf
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.

http://www.owenanderson.net/reviews/AndersonNaturalLaw.pdf


Thanks for that. (For what it's worth, the "strengths" have also been the greatest weaknesses. Many ethicists have critiqued NL precisely at the point of its universality and absoluteness.)

At the end he says NL is based on human nature. In one sense this is correct in that God wouldn't have given laws against sodomy had he made us without rectums.

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

Also, we can bring in an *alethic* grounding such that God's nature is the truth-maker for morality.

We can also employ epistemological arguemnts showing the need for revelation. God reveals what is best for man, society, etc. So, a NL position need not be a totally epistemologically autonomous position
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.

http://www.owenanderson.net/reviews/AndersonNaturalLaw.pdf


Thanks for that. (For what it's worth, the "strengths" have also been the greatest weaknesses. Many ethicists have critiqued NL precisely at the point of its universality and absoluteness.)

At the end he says NL is based on human nature. In one sense this is correct in that God wouldn't have given laws against sodomy had he made us without rectums.

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

Also, we can bring in an *alethic* grounding such that God's nature is the truth-maker for morality.

We can also employ epistemological arguemnts showing the need for revelation. God reveals what is best for man, society, etc. So, a NL position need not be a totally epistemologically autonomous position

I think I would agree. As I understand Aquinas, and I am open to correction, for him natural law participates in God's law (or in the character of God). Hugo Grotius, however, would say that natural law is true even if there weren't a God.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.

http://www.owenanderson.net/reviews/AndersonNaturalLaw.pdf


Thanks for that. (For what it's worth, the "strengths" have also been the greatest weaknesses. Many ethicists have critiqued NL precisely at the point of its universality and absoluteness.)

At the end he says NL is based on human nature. In one sense this is correct in that God wouldn't have given laws against sodomy had he made us without rectums.

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

Also, we can bring in an *alethic* grounding such that God's nature is the truth-maker for morality.

We can also employ epistemological arguemnts showing the need for revelation. God reveals what is best for man, society, etc. So, a NL position need not be a totally epistemologically autonomous position

Actually at the end he does not just say that NL is based on human nature. He grounds one's belief in human nature in one's belief in the eternal aka God.
One will have a hard time agreeing on what human nature is if one disagrees about who God is.

CT
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.

http://www.owenanderson.net/reviews/AndersonNaturalLaw.pdf


Thanks for that. (For what it's worth, the "strengths" have also been the greatest weaknesses. Many ethicists have critiqued NL precisely at the point of its universality and absoluteness.)

At the end he says NL is based on human nature. In one sense this is correct in that God wouldn't have given laws against sodomy had he made us without rectums.

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

Also, we can bring in an *alethic* grounding such that God's nature is the truth-maker for morality.

We can also employ epistemological arguemnts showing the need for revelation. God reveals what is best for man, society, etc. So, a NL position need not be a totally epistemologically autonomous position

Actually at the end he does not just say that NL is based on human nature. He grounds one's belief in human nature in one's belief in the eternal aka God.
One will have a hard time agreeing on what human nature is if one disagrees about who God is.

CT

CT,

On page 630 he says, "Natural law theory asserts that law is based on human nature. Therefore, there is only one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law can be based."

And that's a fairly standard NL point. Right in the mainstream. I brought out his other qualifcations and also made some distinctions he did not draw.

But, he followed in line with other NL apologists in claiming that (at least some) law is based on human nature (cf. the sodomy point, etc).

I agree with the rest of your points, as that was one of my points. But, he did say that natural law was "based on human nature." And by saying that he's saying what Aquinas said before him.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks for that. (For what it's worth, the "strengths" have also been the greatest weaknesses. Many ethicists have critiqued NL precisely at the point of its universality and absoluteness.)

At the end he says NL is based on human nature. In one sense this is correct in that God wouldn't have given laws against sodomy had he made us without rectums.

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

Also, we can bring in an *alethic* grounding such that God's nature is the truth-maker for morality.

We can also employ epistemological arguemnts showing the need for revelation. God reveals what is best for man, society, etc. So, a NL position need not be a totally epistemologically autonomous position

Actually at the end he does not just say that NL is based on human nature. He grounds one's belief in human nature in one's belief in the eternal aka God.
One will have a hard time agreeing on what human nature is if one disagrees about who God is.

CT

CT,

On page 630 he says, "Natural law theory asserts that law is based on human nature. Therefore, there is only one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law can be based."

And that's a fairly standard NL point. Right in the mainstream. I brought out his other questifcations and made some distinctions he did not draw.

But, he followed in line with other NL apologists in claiming that (at least some) law is based on human nature (cf. the sodomy point, etc).

I agree with the rest of your points, as that was one of my points. But, he did say that natural law was "based on human nature." And by saying that he's saying what Aquinas said before him.

p. 630
Natural law theory asserts that the law is based on human
nature, and there is only one human nature. Therefore, there is only
one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on
obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law
can be based. Because one’s view of human nature depends on one’s
view of the origin of human nature, a correct view of human nature
will first require having a correct view of the eternal.


The thing that makes this paper interesting is how he is able to bring Aquinas and Aristotle onto the same page, by pointing out that the differences are differences due to differing beliefs in God.

The paper is pointless without that distinction.

CT
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Actually at the end he does not just say that NL is based on human nature. He grounds one's belief in human nature in one's belief in the eternal aka God.
One will have a hard time agreeing on what human nature is if one disagrees about who God is.

CT

CT,

On page 630 he says, "Natural law theory asserts that law is based on human nature. Therefore, there is only one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law can be based."

And that's a fairly standard NL point. Right in the mainstream. I brought out his other questifcations and made some distinctions he did not draw.

But, he followed in line with other NL apologists in claiming that (at least some) law is based on human nature (cf. the sodomy point, etc).

I agree with the rest of your points, as that was one of my points. But, he did say that natural law was "based on human nature." And by saying that he's saying what Aquinas said before him.

p. 630
Natural law theory asserts that the law is based on human
nature, and there is only one human nature. Therefore, there is only
one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on
obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law
can be based. Because one’s view of human nature depends on one’s
view of the origin of human nature, a correct view of human nature
will first require having a correct view of the eternal.


The thing that makes this paper interesting is how he is able to bring Aquinas and Aristotle onto the same page, by pointing out that the differences are differences due to differing beliefs in God.

The paper is pointless without that distinction.

CT


Right. I made that point as well.

Your bolded portion does not say that NL is not based on human nature, only that one must have the "correct view of human nature on which natural law can be based." To have a "correct view" of human nature, "on which natural law can be based," one must have a correct view of God in order to have that "correct view of human nature on which natural law is based."

I never denied that distinction, I just made the point that he said NL is based on human nature. I never denied that we must look to God to find out what that is. In fact, I invoked the imago dei.

You savvy?
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
CT,

On page 630 he says, "Natural law theory asserts that law is based on human nature. Therefore, there is only one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law can be based."

And that's a fairly standard NL point. Right in the mainstream. I brought out his other questifcations and made some distinctions he did not draw.

But, he followed in line with other NL apologists in claiming that (at least some) law is based on human nature (cf. the sodomy point, etc).

I agree with the rest of your points, as that was one of my points. But, he did say that natural law was "based on human nature." And by saying that he's saying what Aquinas said before him.

p. 630
Natural law theory asserts that the law is based on human
nature, and there is only one human nature. Therefore, there is only
one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on
obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law
can be based. Because one’s view of human nature depends on one’s
view of the origin of human nature, a correct view of human nature
will first require having a correct view of the eternal.


The thing that makes this paper interesting is how he is able to bring Aquinas and Aristotle onto the same page, by pointing out that the differences are differences due to differing beliefs in God.

The paper is pointless without that distinction.

CT


Right. I made that point as well.

Your bolded portion does not say that NL is not based on human nature, only that one must have the "correct view of human nature on which natural law can be based." To have a "correct view" of human nature, "on which natural law can be based," one must have a correct view of God in order to have that "correct view of human nature on which natural law is based."

I never denied that distinction, I just made the point that he said NL is based on human nature. I never denied that we must look to God to find out what that is. In fact, I invoked the imago dei.

You savvy?

My disagreement came here:

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

You stated that Anderson stated that NL is based on human nature, but.

I did/do not see the reason for your writing in that way unless you thought he did not make that same distinction and that you were in fact helping him along.

CT
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
p. 630
Natural law theory asserts that the law is based on human
nature, and there is only one human nature. Therefore, there is only
one natural law. The emphasis in natural law theorizing must be on
obtaining a correct view of human nature on which a natural law
can be based. Because one’s view of human nature depends on one’s
view of the origin of human nature, a correct view of human nature
will first require having a correct view of the eternal.


The thing that makes this paper interesting is how he is able to bring Aquinas and Aristotle onto the same page, by pointing out that the differences are differences due to differing beliefs in God.

The paper is pointless without that distinction.

CT


Right. I made that point as well.

Your bolded portion does not say that NL is not based on human nature, only that one must have the "correct view of human nature on which natural law can be based." To have a "correct view" of human nature, "on which natural law can be based," one must have a correct view of God in order to have that "correct view of human nature on which natural law is based."

I never denied that distinction, I just made the point that he said NL is based on human nature. I never denied that we must look to God to find out what that is. In fact, I invoked the imago dei.

You savvy?

My disagreement came here:

But, in another sense, an NL guy can say that the laws are based on God since God instantiated this type of world, e.g. a world where humans have rectums. Also, God grounds all exiestence, even human existence. And, the imago dei would come into play here as well for the Christain. Furthermore, God's nature grounds some moral laws in the way ours do (cf. the sodomy example), i.e., in worshipping him, honoring him, etc.

You stated that Anderson stated that NL is based on human nature, but.

I did/do not see the reason for your writing in that way unless you thought he did not make that same distinction and that you were in fact helping him along.

CT

Oh, you should have made that clear where your disagreement was.

The "but" is to point out other kinds of "basings." I pointed out the relevant way it was "based" on human nature. But, some people might have flipped a lid. So, I was heading off any critique.

I also pointed out alethic, and possible epistemological "basings."
 
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