The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 17, Issue 4, Winter 2017

Denis A. Scrandis
Pages 615-621

Jacques Maritain on the Rights of Man and the Common Good

The notion of a properly functioning human nature as a moral standard is a tenet of Western culture and is at the core Western humanism, Christian moral teaching, and natural law theory. Although these traditions recognize that the virtue of justice is exercised by giving one’s neighbor his due, they did not explore a person’s legitimate claims to goods in a modern theory of human rights. Enlightenment thinkers, as materialists and atheists, theorized that human rights are not related to God or human nature but are privileges granted by government. Jacques Maritain (1882–1973) developed theories of natural law and human rights. Maritain’s theory of human rights, employing a Thomistic methodology and founded on God and nature, is applicable to contemporary disputes, such as claims to a right to “same-sex” marriage.