Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A new skepticism about natural law?

David Bentley Hart, "Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws" (First Things, March 2013), offered a skeptical review of natural law theories.

The piece got a lot of attention, some positive, some negative:In the May issue of First Things, Hart responded to Feser's criticisms in "Nature Loves to Hide" (First Things, May, 2013); and now Feser has responded, in turn, to Hart, in "Sheer Hart Attack: Morality, Rationality, and Theology" (Public Discourse, April 24th, 2013 -- again, it carries an earlier publication date).

These articles are both illuminating about the contemporary state of affairs in the Catholic corner of the public square, and edifying in what they reveal about the often-misunderstood character of natural law. For those who understand the difference between natural law and natural law theories, there is no reason whatsoever to be skeptical about natural law.

One of the best books I can recommend to give the novice a sense of the foregoing, and a powerful sense of how compelling natural law argument can be is J. Budziszewski's What We Can't Not Know: A Guide.Philosophically brilliant, spiritually insightful, and psychologically shrewd, there is no other book on the subject quite like it. Highly recommended.

[Hat tip to C.B.]




I have read J.B. (I can't spell his surname), and you are right: he plumbs the depths of the psychology of denial, those who plunge headlong into sin and then want to yak about it to everyone they meet as if they were bragging. The section on the "Furies" (as I recall) was amazing.

Andrew M. Greenwell


erinet Yes. Budziszewski's work is excellent and it presents a classic view of the natural law, but from an interesting psychological point of view as well. I've written a synopsis of the work on my blog, www.lexchristianorum.blogspot.com. Another excellent and readable work is The First Grace by Russell Hittinger.