"The substantive differences between the theory of natural law espoused by Vasquez and Suarez (and most Catholic manuals until the other day) and the theory espoused by Aquinas are scarcely less significant and extensive than the better-known differences between Aristotelian and Stoic ethics. . . .We can put Hume's attack on the ethics of his predecessors into perspective by the following summary remarks:(i)Aristotle and Aquinas would readily grant that ought cannot be deduced from is (whether or not Hume really formulated and adhered to that principle). (ii)Both would go along with Hume's view that the speculative discernment of "eternal relations," even relations of "fitness of human nature," leaves open the question what motive anybody has for regulating his actions accordingly. (iii) Aquinas would deplore the confusion (shared by Hume and Suarez!) of obligation with impulse or influence, and Hume's failure to see that reason is an "active principle" because one is motivated according to one's understanding of the goodness and desirability of human opportunities, including the opportunity of extending intelligence and reasonableness into one's choice of actions. (iv)Aquinas would reject the assumption of Clarke, Grotius, Suarez, and Vasquez that the primary and self-evident principles of natural law are moral principles (in the modern sense of "moral"), or that they are initially grasped as principles concerned with self-evident relations of conformity or dis-conformity to human nature. (v)Aquinas, like Clarke and Hume, would reject the view that the will or imperative of a superior accounts for obligation; like Hume he would reject Clarke's view that obligation is essentially a matter of avoiding intellectual inconsistencies; and finally he would reject both Hume's view that it is a matter of, or intrinsically related to, a peculiar sentiment, and equally, the recent neo-Humean view that statements of obligation are merely prescriptions expressing a certain sort of commitment or decision." John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, II.6, p47-48
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
"In every system of morality which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning and establishes the being of a God or makes observations concerning human affairs,when of a sudden I am surprised to find that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought or an ought not. This change is imperceptible, but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought or ought not expresses some new relation or affirmation, it is necessary that it should be observed and explained, and at the same time that a reason should be given for what seems altogether inconcievable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers, and am persuaded that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality and let us see that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relation of objects, nor is percieved by reason." David Hume A Treatise on Human Nature, Section I, pgs. 247-248 Modern Library ed.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
"He who would derive the concept of virtue from experience, and would change what at best could only serve as an example or an imperfect illustration, into a type and source of knowledge (as many have really done)would indeed transform virtue into an equivocal phantom, changing according to times and circumstance, and utterly useless to serve as a rule." Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason p233
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Salon.com had a strange article by Mary Elizabeth Williams, entitled "Where Are All the Normal Christians," which might have been entitled, "Where Are All the Liberal Christians?" Williams attacks Rick Santorum by saying something along the lines of, "As a Catholic, most people associate my church with child molesters and Rick Santorum," which sort of implies (I think) that she thinks Santorum is about as reputable as a child molester. She goes over the moon to say that, even though she claims to be Catholic, she sees nothing wrong with birth control. But, I have to admit, she did actually make some good points. She sees grace and forgiveness as important parts of faith. And she did find fault with those on the left, who with Dr. Dawkins, dismiss all people of faith as ignorant rubes. The only problem is, Ms. Williams fails to see that people on her ideological side usually do see religious people as ignorant rubes, and they see objecting to birth control as a perfect example of being an ignorant rube. So she concedes half the point just in the fact that she herself sees contraception as being the mark of sophistication.