Volume 92, 2018
Philosophy, Catholicism, and Public Life
J. W. Schulz
Is Purely Practical Agreement Possible? Maritain’s Mexico City Thesis Answers Some MacIntyrian Challenges
In 1947, Jacques Maritain argued before the UN that “men mutually opposed in their theoretical conceptions can come to a merely practical agreement regarding a list of human rights.” Maritain justified this thesis using a progressive theory of the natural law which rests on a distinction between the natural law as operative in human nature and the natural law as known and articulated. Drawing on Maritain’s 1951 Man and the State, this essay defends a MacIntyrian reading of Maritain’s thesis and its plausibility against four objections from Ralph McInerny, Charles Taylor, and Alasdair MacIntyre himself.