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ISBN 0-8126-9454-6

$25.95   paper

167 pages


Natural Law

An Introduction and Re-examination

Howard P. Kainz

The Nuremberg Trials of leading National Socialists established the principle that individuals may be legally punished, even by death, for obeying the laws of their country. Is there then a higher law by which enacted valid positive laws may be judged, so that persons subject to such laws would be duty-bound to defy them?

In recent years the theory of natural law has been revived by a number of philosophers and jurists, who however often disagree sharply among themselves about the proper methods for defining and deriving natural law.

Howard Kainz surveys the history of natural law from its foreshadowing in ancient Greece down to the most recent controversies. Natural Law both introduces the subject to newcomers and sheds fresh light on such figures as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Veatch, McInerny, Grisez, and Finnis.

"Dr. Kainz's book is a smoothly-written, enjoyable read. He offers his readers a brief history of natural-law theory in all its diversity and follows this up with his own reflections on the concepts and problems at the heart of the tradition. Finally, he brings this theory to bear on a number of issues that generate most of the moral debate within our society."

—Pat Tully, Niagara University

"This long overdue examination of natural law brings together in one volume historically informed understanding of natural law with contemporary applications, which help shed light on an often misunderstood body of moral discourse. . . . Kainz's fresh approach is necessary reading for anyone interested in this often misunderstood philosophy."

—Jeffrey Maciejewski, Creighton University

Howard Kainz . . . offers an impressive historical account, with a particularly good analysis of natural law in the Greek period. Of course, the importance of Antigone in the foundation stages of the Western tradition of natural law theory is indisputable. . . . [Kainz suggests] that Finnis's account of natural law may be close to a "good reasons" moral theory, especially in the attempt to determine objectivity. . . . Kainz’s remarks on Aristotle's and Moore's "open question argument" are substantive. . . . [He offers] significant accounts of David Hume. . . . The distinctions Kainz offers between natural law and moral sense theories are to the point. . . . [His] incorporation of Kant into a natural law discussion is intriguing. . . . Kainz's book for the most part is a useful introductory text that covers much philosophical material. . . . Excursions into special moral issues and their connection with natural law theory are not absent. . . . [He offers] useful diagrams—this is a publication device not frequently found in philosophy books but one that can be helpful to readers coming to philosophical problems for the first time."

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 81.4.

Howard P. Kainz is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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