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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring 2013
Critiques of the New Natural Law Theory

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1. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Edward Delaquil Colloquy
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2. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Steven A. Long, PhD In This Issue
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3. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Richard M. Doerflinger Washington Insider
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4. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Fulvio Di Blasi The Role of God in the New Natural Law Theory
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Does God have any relevant role in the new natural law theory of Germain Grisez and John Finnis? Finnis declared in Natural Law and Natural Rights that he wanted to offer “a theory of natural law without needing to advert to the question of God’s existence or nature or will.” Grisez claims that “man’s ultimate beatitudo cannot consist in the vision of God.” Indeed, there is no consistent role for God in their philosophical theory. In this article, the author shows that their mistakes about God depend first on their metaphysical way of looking at nature, which is closer to thinkers like Hume and Kant than to Aristotle and Aquinas; and second on some strong misunderstandings in moral philosophy about the concept of ultimate end. He shows the unfortunate theological outcome their flawed metaphysics and morality have already produced. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 35–45.
5. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Matthew B. O’Brien Elizabeth Anscombe and the New Natural Lawyers on Intentional Action
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In Intention and her subsequent essays that addressed human action, Elizabeth Anscombe made signal contributions to the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, and to western philosophy more broadly. The new natural law theory of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Joseph Boyle, and their collaborators mistakenly claims to be consonant with Anscombe’s work. A central reason for this misappropriation lies in the failure to understand the ways in which Anscombe does and does not deploy a “first-person perspective” in analyzing intentional action. Far from supporting the new natural law, Anscombe’s work, rightly understood, provides arguments for rejecting it. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 47–56.
6. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Michael Pakaluk Is the New Natural Law Thomistic?
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Whether the new natural law theory counts as a plausible interpretation of St. Thomas Aquinas is not a mere antiquarian question in the history of philosophy but is itself a philosophical question, which bears on how we should interpret and assess the NNLT. Through an examination of problems in Germain Grisez’ influential paper “The First Principle of Practical Reason,” which proposed an interpretation of Summa theologiae I–II, q. 94, a. 2, it is argued that the NNLT is on every major point at odds with Aquinas, such that the NNLT involves a rejection of the classical and Catholic traditions of natural law and not a reformulation, revival, or saving of that tradition. The NNLT gives a flawed account of individual morality, not a Thomistic account of law as binding a community. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 57–67.
7. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Edward Feser The Role of Nature in Sexual Ethics
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Traditional natural law theory grounds morality in human nature. In particular, it defines what is good for us in terms of the ends for the sake of which our natural faculties exist. For the traditional natural law theorist, our sexual faculties have two natural ends, procreative and unitive, and what is good for us in the context of sexuality is therefore defined in terms of these ends. The article provides an overview of this approach to sexual morality and its implications, and explains why the natural law theorist holds that the procreative and unitive ends cannot be separated. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 69–76.
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8. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Rev. Kevin L. Flannery, SJ Thomas Aquinas and the New Natural Law Theory on the Object of the Human Act
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The author offers, first, an account of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Aristotelian-inspired understanding of the object of a moral act and of what morally that species contributes to the act of which it is a part. Then, with special (but not sole) attention to two passages in Aquinas cited frequently by the proponents of the new natural law theory—that is, Summa theologiae 2-2.64.7 and the commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences 2.40.1.2—the author argues that a close analysis of Aquinas’s remarks on objects and intentions does not support the claim that the new natural law theory is Thomistic. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 79–104.
9. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
Steven A. Long Fundamental Errors of the New Natural Law Theory
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This essay argues that the new natural law theory (NNLT) propounds five errors that place it on a collision course with the traditional Thomistic understanding central to the moral magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. These root errors are argued to be (1) the denial of the primacy of speculative over practical truth, (2) the negation of unified normative natural teleology expressed in the NNLT doctrine of the putative “incommensurability” of basic goods prior to choice, (3) failure to affirm the transcendence of the common good, (4) negation of the essentially theonomic character of the natural law, and (5) the intentionalist construction of human action. The teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas is held to be a superior light for understanding Catholic moral life. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 105–131.
10. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly: Volume > 13 > Issue: 1
John Goyette On the Transcendence of the Political Common Good: Aquinas versus the New Natural Law Theory
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The article aims to articulate and defend St. Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of the transcendence of the political common good and argues against the new natural law theory’s view of the common good as limited, instrumental, and ordered toward the private good of families and individuals. After a summary of John Finnis’s explanation of the common good in Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory, the article presents an analysis of the political common good in Aquinas’s Summa theologiae and De regno. This analysis shows, contrary to Finnis, that for Aquinas the political common good transcends the private good of individuals and families, that it consists in the virtuous life of the political multitude, and that the family is insufficient to lead men to virtue apart from the civitas. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.1 (Spring 2013): 133–155.