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Christian Ethics and Natural Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

John R. Carnes
Affiliation:
University of Colorado
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The life history of certain philosophical and theological terms and concepts constitutes in itself an interesting matter for consideration and reflection. None is more interesting than that of natural law. Many studies have traced the development of natural law philosophy from its early precursors among the Pre-Socratics through Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics, St Thomas, and the early British empiricists; have noted its demise in the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the criticism of Hume; and have observed its renaissance in the twentieth century. Despite this undeniable revival of interest in the theory (if, indeed it can be called a theory, given the wide diversity of philosophers who have identified themselves with it) in the present century, a moral philosopher uses the term only at great risk, for no philosophical theory has been so vigorously attacked and so thoroughly ‘refuted’ as natural law.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1967

References

1 R. B. Braithwaite's treatment (in An Empiricist's View of the Mature of Religious Belief) of the Christian point of view, according to which God is love is taken to indicate an intention on the part of the believer to behave agapeistically, turns the ontology into a mere indication of intent and thereby emasculates the Christian ethic as well as the whole Christian point of view.

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