August 28, 2014

Dylan Pahman – Natural Law, Public Policy, and the Uncanny Voice of Conscience: An Orthodox Response to David Bentley Hart

Dylan Pahman

Source: Ehtika Politika | In his recent First Things article, “Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws,” David Bentley Hart puts forth a formidable and subtle critique of the use, “by certain self-described Thomists,” of the natural law tradition in public discourse. While Hart does not deny “a harmony between cosmic and moral order,” he takes issue when “the natural law theorist insists that the moral meaning of nature should be perfectly evident to any properly reasoning mind, regardless of religious belief or cultural formation.” He thus contends that (1) such natural lawyers, despite best intentions, ultimately fall prey to David Hume’s critique that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; that (2) natural law reasoning depends upon a person’s prior acceptance of certain metaphysical commitments (e.g. a teleological world and a harmony between the cosmic and moral orders); that (3) universal … [Read more...]

Orthodox Natural Law Theory

As some have argued here, the Church's witness requires her to clearly articulate her anthropological vision.  The challenges that face both the Church and the larger society flow from competing visions of what it means to be human. The articulation of an Orthodox understanding of the human person is central to our moral witness in the public square, to our evangelical witness in the human heart and (most importantly) the effective preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit.  If we cannot present a clear and compelling vision of human life, then on matters of personal and public morality, sexuality, politics and public policy, the Church cedes the public square and the human heart to increasingly pagan and disjointed culture. Though her immediate concern is  the environmental movement, Elizabeth Theokritoff's Living in God's Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology, offers us an Orthodox approach to natural law grounded in Scripture and the Church Fathers and embodied in Christian … [Read more...]