Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thomistic Natural Law as Darwinian Natural Right: An APSA Paper

On September 1, at 2:00 pm, I will be on a panel ("Biology and Rights") at the 2011 Meetings of the American Political Science Association in Seattle.

My paper is "Thomistic Natural Law as Darwinian Natural Right: Replies to Critics." It can be downloaded.

Some of the material in this paper has been pulled from various posts on this blog.

Under the title "What Nature Has Taught All Animals," I summarize some of the common ground between Thomistic natural law and Darwinian natural right.

I then reply to six objections that have been raised by my critics:

(1) It is said that I fail to see that natural law depends on a divine lawgiver as its source.

(2) Darwinian science denies the natural teleology that is required for natural law.

(3) Darwinian science denies the reality of species as the ground of natural law.

(4) Darwinian natural right denies human freedom by denying the freedom of reason in ruling over the human desires or emotions.

(5) Darwinian explanations of human nature ignore the importance of culture and habituation in shaping human character.

(6) Darwinian naturalism is self-defeating, because in denying that the human mind was created in God's image, and asserting that the mind arose from a mindless process of evolution, it gives us no reason to trust our mental capacity for true beliefs.

My general claim is that by rooting natural law in a scientific conception of human nature, and by avoiding the contradictions that arise from Thomas Aquinas's occasional efforts to elevate revelation over reason, Darwinian natural right is the natural fulfillment of Thomistic natural law.

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