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This seminar will examine the philosophical foundations of the so-called natural-law tradition and possible implications of that tradition with respect to moral, political, and legal issues. The key idea of this tradition is that the combination of (a) an objective human nature or ‘function’ (‘ergon’, in the Greek) and (b) human participation in (practical) rationality should have moral, political, legal consequences. We will explore the ancient Greek (particularly Aristotelian and Stoic) origins of this tradition, its adaptation to a Christian world-view, its development in medieval scholastic thought, and its transformation (arguably into something quite different) within the ‘new natural law’ and ‘natural rights’ tradition of the seventeenth century. Finally, we will consider one or two contemporary attempts to develop this tradition and to apply the natural-law perspective to political and legal issues.
Cicero. The Republic and the Laws, ed., ed. Jonathan Powell, trans. Niall Rudd. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN-13 978-0192832368
Aquinas, St. Thomas. Treatise on Law. Hackett Publishing Co., 2000. ISBN 0872205487 Paperback
Pufendorf, Samuel. On the Duty of Man and Citizen, ed. James Tully, trans. Michael Silverthorne. Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN 0521359805 Paperback.
Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government, ed. C. B. Macpherson. Hackett Publishing Co., 1980. ISBN-13 9780915144860 Paperback.
Finnis, John. Natural Law and Natural Rights, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN-13 9780199599141 Paperback.
Credit Hours: 3
Grading Option: Letter Grade Only
Written Assignment: 'Directed' paper in lieu of final examination
Graduation Writing Requirement: Yes, With Instructor's Approval*
Flexible Writing Requirement: Yes, With Instructor's Approval*
Skills Requirement: No
Note: Only one of the above listed requirements can be fulfilled with this course.
Limited Enrollment Number: 16
Final Exam Given: No
Mid Term or Other Exam: Take-home midterm will be given if there is sufficient student interest.
Attendance Policy: Per Statement of Student Policies
Additional Attendance Policy: Mandatory
Online Course Site: None