Research Handbook on Natural Law Theory
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Research Handbook on Natural Law Theory

Jonathan Crowe and Constance Y. Lee

This thought-provoking Research Handbook provides a snapshot of current research on natural law theory in ethics, politics and law, showcasing the breadth and diversity of contemporary natural law thought. The Research Handbook on Natural Law Theory examines topics such as foundational figures in Western natural law theory, natural law ideas in a variety of religious and cultural traditions, normative foundations of natural law, as well as issues of law and governance. Featuring contributions by leading international scholars, this Research Handbook offers a valuable resource for scholars in law, philosophy, religious studies and related fields.
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Chapter 4: St. Augustine on natural law

Richard J. Dougherty


Richard J. Dougherty’s chapter examines Augustine’s contribution to natural law thought in view of its growth out of and beyond classical understandings. He offers an illuminating overview of the extent to which the classical tradition is reflected in, distinguished from, and ultimately expanded upon in Augustine’s natural law theory. Dougherty offers a nuanced reading of Augustine’s natural law theory, emphasizing the distinctive and complementary roles played in his account by human law, natural order, and divine grace. He notes that the radical character of Augustine’s natural law lies in his incorporation of Scripture - particularly Pauline doctrines - in the interpretation of the role of law more generally. He further suggests that Augustine’s development of natural law beyond Stoic conceptions is a consequence of reformulating goodness in relation to divine grace and thus reconceptualizing the link between human realities and the normative standard for law. Natural law, on this view, serves to orient humans towards their ultimate end, providing a standard for judging human institutions to be properly or improperly ordered.

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