The Debate about Natural Law Continues

Around a year ago, David Bentley Hart struck the hornets nest with an essay at First Things attacking contemporary appeals to natural law. Replies to Hart—some affirmative, probably more critical—popped up all over the interwebs. I was intrigued at the time that Hart made appeal to Hume’s is/ought distinction in his critique, because many committed to natural law lean heavily on Aquinas and Aristotle and no less a contemporary Thomist/Aristotelian than Alasdair Macintyre has drawn on them to undermine Hume’s distinction. Still, I take it that Macintyre’s account of tradition-dependent rationality carries with it its own critique of certain appeals to the natural law.

In light of this recent public conversation, I’m looking forward to editing R. J. Snell’s forthcoming contribution to the debate, The Perspective of Love: Natural Law in a New Mode. Snell seeks to clarify the debate by illuminating the variety of kinds of natural law, and by showing that the most theologically robust form can withstand, and indeed be strengthened by, the best forms of criticism of the tradition. Stay tuned!

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