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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 79, Issue 3, Summer 2005

Craig A. Boyd
Pages 431-445

Participation Metaphysics in Aquinas’s Theory of Natural Law

Interpreters of Aquinas’s theory of natural law have occasionally argued that the theory has no need for God. Some, such as Anthony Lisska, wish to avoid an interpretation that construes the theory as an instance of theological definism. Instead Lisska sees Aquinas’s ontology of natural kinds as central to the theory. In his zeal to eliminate God from Aquinas’s theory of natural law, Lisska has overlooked two important features of the theory. First, Aquinas states that the desire for God is a primary precept of the natural law and thus constitutes a critical aspect of his ontology. Secondly, Aquinas’s theory of natural law must be seen in the larger context of his theory of participation since he says, “The natural law is the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law.”