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Foreword to 'By Nature Equal? The Anatomy of a Western Insight'

John E. Coons and Patrick Brennan, BY NATURE EQUAL? THE ANATOMY OF A WESTERN INSIGHT, Princeton University Press, 1999

7 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2011  

John Witte Jr.

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 1999

Abstract

Professors Coons and Brennan offer a "realist" theory of human equality. They first distill a "conventional" definition of human equality - combining the conversational method of "common sense" philosophy with the law professor's method of constructing a "reasonable person standard." They then move with acuity and alacrity down the long honor roll of Western philosophers, theologians, and natural law theorists in search of antecedents and allies for their theory. Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, Kant, and a host of others are all put in the dock for close examination of their theories of equality. Coons and Brennan let these historical luminaries speak on their terms, sometimes at length. They do not coach their historical witnesses to use language or to reach conclusions that suits the thesis of their book. Virtually all these luminaries give credible testimony to support portions of the authors' thesis. But none expounds it outright. The authors then stitch together the testimony they have gathered from the tradition and restate their thesis about human equality. The last section of the volume sketches the pertinence of the thesis for contemporary discussions of liberty, equality, and fraternity, justice, rights, and the common good.

Keywords: Human equality, Coons, Brennan

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Foreword to 'By Nature Equal? The Anatomy of a Western Insight' (1999). John E. Coons and Patrick Brennan, BY NATURE EQUAL? THE ANATOMY OF A WESTERN INSIGHT, Princeton University Press, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851236

John Witte Jr. (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

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