The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring 2013

Critiques of the New Natural Law Theory

Michael Pakaluk
Pages 57-67

Is the New Natural Law Thomistic?

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.