Existentialism and Natural Law
Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 55-72, 2005
19 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2009 Last revised: 17 Mar 2009
Date Written: March 10, 2009
This paper explores methodological connections between the existentialist and natural law traditions, with particular emphasis on the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and John Finnis. Existentialist approaches to phenomenology hold promise in illuminating the epistemological foundations of natural law accounts, especially those emphasising human self-fulfilment through practical choice. Some methodological challenges common to projects in the fields of existentialist ethics and natural law are discussed. It is suggested that an existentialist perspective holds potential in reinforcing contemporary natural law responses to the so-called 'fact-value distinction'. Such an approach affords a promising methodological structure for investigating the pre-moral foundations for social judgements of ethical significance, thereby providing qualified support for the type of natural law theory advocated by Finnis.
Keywords: Existentialism, natural law, Finnis, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre
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