Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Lawby Edward B. McLean
The cogent remarks and prescient insights of such thinkers as Timothy Fuller, Russell Hittinger, Robert George, and J. Rufus Fears demonstrate why there is a resurgence of interest in natural law doctrine. No other legal theory comprehends all the facets of man's existence with quite the same appreciation of both the particular circumstances of man's actions and the abiding truths of his destiny. Anyone wanting to understand the permanent norms of human action and their relationships to our moral and political lives will find this engaging book indispensable.
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Common TruthsNew Perspectives on Natural Law
Copyright © 2007 Edward B. McLean
All right reserved.
PrefaceCommon Truths comprises lectures delivered as part of the distinguished Goodrich Lecture Series at Wabash College and reflect the growing interest in natural law. Each chapter is predicated on the desirability of replacing the dominant school of positive law and its majoritarian legitimating principle with a commitment to natural law doctrines, which alone are capable of providing the informing principles necessary for a vital, free, and virtuous society. The contributors make cogent arguments for the necessity of restoring natural law as the basis for our social and legal order but are realistic about such a prospect. The essayists agree that if any hope remains of refurbishing our civil social order, it lies in reasserting the unassailably valid natural law standards of right conduct as a guide to all human action and choice.
Natural law doctrines reject standards of conduct that come from human will only, that bear no imprimatur other than the desires of the individuals who promulgate the rules of behavior. Such positivist standards foster individual arrogance and, indeed, operate to dissolve society's capacities for functioning and sustaining itself. But a society does not intentionally set itself on a course of destruction. To shore up the legitimacy of its system of law, a positivist society must therefore establish a "new religion." Given its secular premises, however, such a religion, and hence any state based upon it, will have no legitimacy; adherence will be achieved by coercive power only.
There are three major parts to the present collection. Part one discusses certain historical dimensions in the history of natural law philosophy. Part two deals with thematic topics related to natural law. Part three focuses on the applications and importance of natural law to certain areas of legal practice. The collection is preceded by an introductory essay and closes with a prospective view of natural law's role in the twenty-first century.
Some of today's most distinguished public intellectuals and legal scholars have contributed to this unique and timely work-a fact, one hopes, that will make this collection a significant contribution to the dialogue that must occur regarding the current state of law in our society.
Edward B. McLean Wabash College
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