Natural Law

Anthony J. Lisska

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195379488
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Natural Law

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This article discusses the meta-ethical presuppositions necessary for understanding the ethical naturalism common to several contemporary natural law arguments. This analysis, while conscious of the historical antecedents in medieval Aristotelianism with special reference to Thomas Aquinas, concentrates on the contemporary thrust of natural law discussions. Natural law theory at its best has a realist foundation based on human persons; this moral theory has rationality articulated as a necessary condition and is thoroughly cognizant of the common good or the public interest. The article attempts to spell out the set of conditions necessary for natural law, and moral and legal theory, through an analysis of the writings of several contemporary analytical philosophers and the role these central metaphysical concepts play in the respective theories.

Keywords: natural law theory; Thomas Aquinas; ethical naturalism; medieval Aristotelianism; moral theory; legal theory

Article.  9737 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Law

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