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 17: Natural law and imagination

Yannick Imbert


Yannick Imbert’s chapter explores the interconnections between natural law and imagination. It is tempting to think of natural law and imagination as belonging to different realms since natural law attempts to describe reality, while imagination is often associated with fiction. However, Imbert suggests that this line of thought is misleading. Both natural law and imagination, he argues, can be understood as having normative, situational, and existential dimensions. These three aspects are represented in natural law by the notions of divine order, natural order, and moral order; in imagination, they correspond to sense perception, human thought, and aesthetics. This threefold scheme, Imbert contends, enables us to see how imagination can help to unite the diverse aspects of natural law into a coherent whole. We use the forms of imagination to help us connect divine order with natural order, natural order with moral order, and moral order with divine order. Imagination helps us to think through our place in the world in a way that helps us understand not only the various manifestations of natural law, but also the underlying relationship between God, nature, and human existence.

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