Reason and Natural Law

Stephen Pope

in The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780199227228
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Reason and Natural Law

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Theological ethics is drawn to natural law for two fundamental reasons. First, it advances a form of moral realism which affirms that moral standards are based in reality, and in this sense ‘objective’, rather than manufactured by human decisions. Second, some ethicists are attracted to natural law for its universal scope and its claim to apply to all human beings — rich as well as poor, conqueror as well as conquered, men as well as women. This article begins with a brief discussion of the historical origins of the notion of natural law and its medieval development. It then examines its modern transformations, more recent theoretical developments, and contemporary challenges. The article focuses on how ‘nature’ functions normatively within natural law ethics.

Keywords: theological ethics; natural law; moral realism; nature

Article.  8959 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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