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41 Am. J. Juris. 47 (1996)
A Defense of the New Natural Law Theory

handle is hein.journals/ajj41 and id is 51 raw text is: A DEFENSE OF THE NEW NATURAL LAW THEORY
In Fact and Value in the New Natural Law Theory,' Jeffrey
Goldsworthy offers a vigorous critique of the natural law theory of
practical reason and morality advanced by Germain Grisez, John
Finnis, and Joseph M. Boyle, Jr. (GFB). Goldsworthy argues that
GFB's putatively cognitivist account of the objective prescriptivity of
moral principles and the motivational force of noninstrumental reasons
for action fails either because it is (1) ultimately indistinguishable
from Humean non-cognitivism, according to which morality is
subjective and practical reasoning is purely instrumental, or (2)
vulnerable to decisive objections based on John Mackie's argument
from queerness as reinforced by the argument from the best
As Goldsworthy points out, GFB disavow the claim of neo-scholastic
natural law theorists that practical principles, including moral norms,
can be deduced from purely theoretical truths (facts) about (human)
nature.2 In this respect, they share common ground with non-
cognitivists. GFB reject, however, the non-cognitivist claim that
since norms cannot be deduced from facts they must be projections
of our feelings and desires rather than objects of our reason (p.
2). GFB maintain that moral norms and other basic practical principles
are rational principles whose directiveness and prescriptivity are
independent of people's feelings or desires. The most basic practical
principles, according to GFB, prescribe actions which people have
reasons to perform because they constitute opportunities to realize
for themselves and/or others benefits whose intelligible value is not
merely instrumental. As grasped in intellective acts, these and more
proximate practical principles, including moral principles, are, or
1. 41 Am. J. Juris. (1996), pp.
2. Thus, according to Goldsworthy, GFB affirm-the Humean principle that
one cannot logically deduce ... an 'ought' from an 'is' (p. 1). GFB, however,
would not concede that the logical distinction between what is the case and what
ought to be done, which Goldsworthy refers to as the Humean dichotomy (p.
2), is properly labeled Humean. Finnis, for example, argues that the distinction
is one that Hume himself muddled and sometimes ignored, and the great classical
philosophers for the most part strictly respected. See Natural Law and Natural
Rights (1980), esp. p. 37, n. 43.

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