The Foundations of Natural MoralityOn the Compatibility of Natural Rights and the Natural Law

The Foundations of Natural MoralityOn the Compatibility of Natural Rights and the Natural Law

S. Adam Seagrave

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226123431

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book argues for a concept of natural morality that unites the concepts of natural rights and the natural law in a new and compelling way. Drawing on the thought of John Locke and St. Thomas Aquinas, it is argued that natural rights and the natural law are each derived independently from the single underlying fact of self-ownership through self-consciousness. From an intellectual historical standpoint, this argument includes the claim that while the idea of natural rights is a distinctly modern one and the idea of the natural law is a distinctly classical and medieval one, these two ideas are nevertheless profoundly compatible with one another. Taking issue equally with historians of political thought in the tradition of Leo Strauss and New Natural Law theorists in the tradition of Jacques Maritain, classical liberals and communitarians, and political liberals and conservatives, this book aims to re-establish the natural foundational approach to morality in an original manner. The concept of natural morality that emerges possesses both the backward-looking potential to unite intellectual history in a new way, and the forward-looking potential to illuminate persuasive approaches to issues of contemporary political relevance including universal health care, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.