Catholicism and the Natural Law: A Response to Four Misunderstandings

Religions 2021, 12(6), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060379

10 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2021 Last revised: 30 Jul 2021

See all articles by Francis Joseph Beckwith

Francis Joseph Beckwith

Baylor University - Department of Philosophy; Baylor University - Department of Political Science; Baylor University - Institute for Studies of Religion

Date Written: April 27, 2021

Abstract

This article responds to four criticisms of the Catholic view of natural law: (1) it commits the naturalistic fallacy, (2) it makes divine revelation unnecessary, (3) it implausibly claims to establish a shared universal set of moral beliefs, and (4) it disregards the noetic effects of sin. Relying largely on the Church’s most important theologian on the natural law, St. Thomas Aquinas, the author argues that each criticism rests on a misunderstanding of the Catholic view. To accomplish this end, the author first introduces the reader to the natural law by way of an illustration he calls the “the ten (bogus) rules.” He then presents Aquinas’ primary precepts of the natural law and shows how our rejection of the ten bogus rules ultimately relies on these precepts (and inferences from them). In the second half of the article, he responds directly to each of the four criticisms.

Keywords: Catholicism; Natural Law Theory; Aquinas; Naturalistic Fallacy

Suggested Citation

Beckwith, Francis, Catholicism and the Natural Law: A Response to Four Misunderstandings (April 27, 2021). Religions 2021, 12(6), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060379, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3859803

Francis Beckwith (Contact Author)

Baylor University - Department of Philosophy ( email )

One Bear Place #97273
Waco, TX 76798-7273
United States
254-710-6464 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://francisbeckwith.com

Baylor University - Department of Political Science

Baylor University - Institute for Studies of Religion

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