Fulvio Di Blasi

Fulvio Di Blasi
God and the Natural Law. A Rereading of Thomas Aquinas


It seems that to have credibility in the post-Kantian and analytical world, contemporary natural-law theory wants to show its independence both from God and from human nature. But can there be a natural-law theory without the "natural" – not grounded on the facts of nature – and without "law" – not in need of a Legislator? In God and the Natural Law, Fulvio Di Blasi, starts with an original analysis of the current debate in ethics, jurisprudence, and politics in order to give the background for a sound understanding of the concept of natural law, which sets the stage for the heart of the book: a recovery of the authentic meaning of the two main concepts of classical natural law theory as synthesized by Thomas Aquinas – the will of God and the order of nature.

The wide revival of practical philosophy and objective-values ethics of the past decades has involved a strong rediscovery of classical natural law. This rediscovery is marked by two main traits: the emphasis on the autonomy of practical reason (as a reaction to the modern voluntarism centered on the external will of the legislator) and the emphasis on the originality of practical reason (as a reaction to the idea of a rational deduction of moral truths from the facts of nature). Without denying an autonomous character of ethics and the need for a strong criticism to moral rationalism, Di Blasi claims that Aquinas’s thought remains unintelligible if we remove from it either God or the metaphysical understanding of nature.

"[God and the Natural Law is] direct and immediate, because [today] it seems ever more difficult for our mindset to think through to the depths, without historical and conceptual filters, the simple and radical idea that natural law is nothing other than the encounter between man and God. Natural law is the way in which we discover ourselves as part of the project of creation." – Salvatore Amato, Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia del Diritto.


Foreword by Ralph McInerny
Foreword to the Italian Edition by Mario A. Cattaneo
Translator’s Note
Preface to the English Edition


1. Natural Law and Analytic Philosophy
2. John Finnis
3. Finnis and Hart
4. The Neoclassical Theory of Natural Law
5. Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Contemporary Liberalism
6. Henry Veatch: Objectivity, Nature and Human Rights
7. From Nature to God

Chapter One: The Neoclassical Critique of Conventional Natural Law Theory

1. Introduction
2. Suárez’s Mediation Between Nominalism and Antinominalism
3. Manualistic Morality
4. The Neoclassical Image of the Conventional Theory
5. The Transcendental Aspect of the Neoclassical Critique
6. The Antinominalism of Neoclassical Theory

Chapter Two: The Presupposition of Lex Naturalis: Man as Capax Dei

1. Introduction
2. The Ethical Relevance of God’s Will
2.1. How We Know God’s Will
2.2. Will and Law
3. The Natural Knowledge of God
3.1. The Non-Self-Evidence of God’s Existence
3.2. The Object of Human Knowledge
3.3. Judgment and Reasoning
3.4. God in Reality
3.5. Via Negativa and Via Positiva
3.6. The Idea of God: Premise and Object of the Proofs
3.7. The Insufficiency of Being
3.7.1. The Way of Motion
3.7.2. The Way of Efficient Causality
3.7.3. The Way of Contingency
3.7.4. The Doctrine of Participation
3.7.5. The Fourth Way
3.7.6. The Way of Finality
3.8. The Metaphysical Experience of Being
4. The Inclination To God
4.1. God as a Moral Problem for Man
4.2. The Meaning of Moral experience
4.3. The Formal Object of Ethics
4.4. “From Natural Love Man Loves God Before Himself and with a Greater Love”

Chapter Three: “Lex” and “Lex Naturalis”

1. Introduction
2. Providence and the Eternal Law
3. Freedom and Natural Law
3.1. The Necessity of Law
3.2. The Concept of Law
3.2.1. Jacques Maritain: Natural Law and Inclinations
4. Natural Law and Divine Law
4.1. Law as an Ordering to the Ultimate End
4.2. Correspondence with the Natural Order
4.3. Intention of the Ultimate End and the Order of Reason
4.4. Proper End, Natural Measure, and Hierarchy
4.5. The Morality and Immorality of Acts
4.6. Fornication and Marriage
5. A Response to Abbà




Sunday, October 5, 2008