Volume 87, Issue 4, Fall 2013
Response to Robert Koons and Matthew O’Brien’s “Objects of Intention
A Hylomorphic Critique of the New Natural Law Theory”
Robert Koons and Matthew O’Brien have leveled a number of objections against the New Natural Law account of human action and intention. In this
paper, I discuss five areas in which I believe that the Koons-O’Brien criticism of the New Natural Law theory is mistaken, or in which their own view is problematic. I hope to show, inter alia, that the New Natural Law approach is not committed to a number of theses attributed to it by Koons and O’Brien; that their own view suffers from many ambiguities and difficulties; that passages from St. Thomas on which they draw to support their own view are in fact fully compatible with the New Natural Law account; and that neither the New Natural Law account of the controversial Phoenix abortion case, nor their account of the casuistry surrounding the acceptance of side-effects, is deficient in the ways asserted by Koons and O’Brien.