American Liberal Arts Blog

Teaching the Liberal Arts in the American Context
Wednesday June 22- "Natural Law, God, and Human Dignity" - Robert P. George
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By James Dudley, June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

This lecture will argue that there are irreducible aspects of human well-being and fulfillment that can be understood and affirmed on the basis of rational (if odinarily informal and even casual) reflection on data provided by our experiences of such activities as friendship, knowledge, and aesthetic appreciation.  These "basic human goods" are the referents of what Aquinas called the first pinciples of practical reason and basic precepts of natural law.  By attending to the integral directiveness of these principles, it is possible to identify norms of morality distinguihing fully resonable choices (i.e., those compatible with a will towards integral human fulfullment, and thus in line with human dignity) from those that fall hort of what reason demands and must, therefore be judges to be morally deficient.  Professor George will consider the skeptical (non-cognitivist) challenge to this understanding of morality advanced by advocates of instrumentalist accounts of practical reaon.  H will also explore some significant respects in which his neo-Aristotelian (eudemonistic) approach to moral judgement is both like and unlike utilitarian and other consequentialist approaches, on the one side, and Kantian or purely "deontological" approaches, on the other.  In the course of the lecture, he will address the question of religous faith and revealed moral truth in relation to natural law theory and the place of virtues in a comprehensive account of natural law.

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3 Comments
Lee Trepanier on Jun 23, 2011 at 7:50 am

This was a great lecture that showed the differences between natural law and other theories of ethics, such as utilitarianism and deonotology.

Mark Gring on Jun 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Any chance this was recorded and made available as a download?

Kelly M. Hanlon on Jun 30, 2011 at 10:43 am

This lecture will be available for download in approximately four weeks. We will post a notification when the video becomes available.

about the author

James Dudley
James Dudley

I finished my BA in History and Political Science at Villanova University in 2008.  I am a recent Navy veteran, and am currently on the staff of ISI.