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God and Moral LawOn the Theistic Explanation of Morality$
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Mark C. Murphy

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693665

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693665.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

Natural law theory

Natural law theory

(p.69) 3 Natural law theory
God and Moral Law

Mark C. Murphy

Oxford University Press

This chapter is a treatment of standard natural law theory (Aquinas, Finnis, Lisska, MacIntyre), assessed in terms of its adequacy as a theistic explanation of moral law. This chapter argues that although natural law theory has flourished within theistic ethics, it is unsatisfactory as a theistic explanation of moral law: most natural law theories in fact have no role at all for theistic facts in their explanation of moral laws, and while there are ways to try to make room for facts about God in their explanations, the role for such facts turns out to be highly mediated. So natural law theory fails as an adequate theistic account of moral law. This chapter also shows that these arguments generalize to other broadly realist theories (utilitarianism, certain forms of Kantianism, virtue ethics) cast in a theistic way, and a fortiori to varieties of constructivism.

Keywords:   God, natural law, moral law, theistic explanation, Aquinas, Finnis, Lisska, MacIntyre, moral realism, constructivism

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