Nature, reason and morality : some aspects of the history of the doctrine of natural law
The present work is concerned with that theme of European political, moral and legal discourse generally called 'natural law'. The candidate writes as one who is by temperament and training more of an historian than a philosopher. Indeed, his purpose is largely to bring together, within a single volume, a more extensive historical treatment and definition than the subject has received in the past. But, in spite of the title, it has also been the candidate's aim to glance in a critical spirit at the claims made by the exponents of natural law. This is not to say that he is concerned with natural law as an 'ideology', however. Neither is he concerned with any more general argument as to how the term 'ideology' might most sensibly be used. In short, it is not his intention to try to assess or account for the force of 'natural- law talk' as an inspiration to action. Rather, his aim IS the more modest one of discovering what sense, if any, is to be made of the assertion that (to quote from p.1) 'our moral and political activity ought to be carried on in conformity with certain principles of right conduct which are somehow 'built-in' to reality itself'. Undoubtedly, any conclusions reached will be exceedingly provisional and open to much debate.