Volume 82, 2008
Bernard G. Prusak
What Kant Reconstructed Brings to Aquinas Reconstructed; Or, Why and How the New Natural Law Needs to Be Extended
The thesis of this paper is that the new natural law has reason to try to integrate Kant’s ethics, not reject it. My argument breaks into two parts. First I provide a critical account of the new natural law, taking as my exemplar of this theory Germain Grisez, Joseph Boyle, and John Finnis’s 1987 article “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends.” My criticism in the end is that the new natural law is vulnerable to much the same criticism that Boyle has made of Alan Donagan’s Kantian ethics. For the new natural law, the trouble will be specifying the basic goods. Here “compromise, intuition, or decision” appears inescapable. The second part of the paper briefly outlines what “Kant reconstructed” has to bring. The Kant that I advocate is not exactly Donagan’s; but my Kant shares with Donagan’s a patience for more than one reasonable position on disputed moral questions.