In our writings at Sutherland Institute we occasionally use the term “natural law,” referring to the common foundations of justice and fairness innate to each of us.
An article in the Intercollegiate Review (excerpted from The Perspective of Love: Natural Law in a New Mode by R.J. Snell) has an interesting angle on natural law:
[I]t might appear quite unreasonable to maintain belief in natural law or natural right, for the intellectual substructure is, as Alasdair MacIntyre put it, echoed by David Bentley Hart, “unacceptable by the dominant standards of modernity.” Yet the cultural and scientific developments noted by Strauss have not resulted in the withering away of either natural right or natural law but instead contributed to a renewed vitality as some thinkers deepen the commonplaces of the tradition while others develop or stretch the tradition in new directions. This is to be expected, for challenges to a tradition cause crisis, irrational and wooden traditions either capitulating or refusing to engage while more supple and reasonable traditions ask new questions, pose new answers, transpose old answers, and articulate themselves in new and productive directions.
This is not the first time that natural law has developed in response to a crisis presented by some theoretical or social challenge, so we should not be surprised to find it developing previously. And in each of these moments of challenge, I suggest, the crisis has been occasioned by the meaning of “nature.” What is so natural about the natural law; what is nature?
Click here to read more of “The Meaning(s) of Natural Law” at the Intercollegiate Review.