Are tradition and Christian theology essential for sound natural law?

By Peter Daniel Haworth for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC

Many readers will enjoy Thaddeus Kozinski’s new essay, “Turning to an Empty Subject: A Response to R.J. Snell’s God, Religion, and the New Natural Law.” Kozinski argues that R.J. Snell, in his previously featured ANAMNESIS essay, errs by allying himself with the New Natural Law school. According to Kozinski, NNL can only provide a partial account of human ethics due to its over-reliance on practical reason. Moreover, Kozinski proceeds to criticize the New Natural Lawyers (e.g., Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Robert George, Christopher Tollefsen, etc.) for the following failures: (1) they insufficiently employ insights (like those of Alasdair MacIntyre) about tradition and practice–i.e., their role in directing reason and subjectivity; (2) they insufficiently incorporate Christian theology, which Kozinski cites Jacques Maritain as viewing to be essential for human ethics, into their natural law theory. Kozinski also criticizes the political philosophical implications of the New Natural Law, and one should peruse the whole article for the entirety of its wisdom–e.g., insights from Jean Porter, D. Steven Long, and James Schall.

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