Chapter 4: St. Augustine on natural law
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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