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Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law (Goodrich Lecture Series) Hardcover – December, 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Goodrich Lecture Series
  • Hardcover: 353 pages
  • Publisher: ISI Books; 1st edition (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882926358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882926350
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,167,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This volume is a significant contribution to our understanding of the natural law and its application to a wide range of human and social concerns, and it deserves serious study and reflection." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"Although Americans have been nearly shamed out of their common sense and scarcely understand themselves any more, a dim feeling has begun to take root that the situation is unendurable. This book, then, appears at just the right moment, explaining afresh the grounds of those moral judgments that no one can really help making yet so many feel they have to deny. I wonder how the editor has managed to get his distinguished collection of scholars to write so clearly; most books on the natural law couch their appeals to the sense of plain people in language that even graduate students find difficult to understand. Besides being nearly free of that vice, the anthology possesses a virtue one seeks in all such books but rarely finds: it tells what natural law has to do with the law as actually practiced."-J. Budziszewski, Departments of Government and Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, and author of The Revenge of Conscience "Professor McLean has assembled a stimulating and provocative collection of well-written essays by an array of thoughtful commentators who come at natural law from a variety of perspectives. Common Truths provides rewarding reading for anyone interested in natural law theory and its history, its application to contemporary law and practice, and its prospects for the future."-Pasco M. Bowman, Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Eight Circuit "Edward B. McLean has collected an outstanding array of natural law thinkers, who demonstrate why serious attention to natural law theory is on the rise today. For those who recognize the increasing disarray of contemporary liberal political and legal theory, this book will be an invaluable resource."-Christopher Wolfe, author, The Rise of Modern Judicial Review

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gerald J. Nora on August 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What struck me is that this book analyzes natural law within a legal context: many of the contributing authors are attorneys as well as philosopher. This is particularly helpful to our nation today, as I think more citizens will have to reassess the role of the judiciary these days.
For the latter half of the 20th century, worries over "judicial acitivism" and judges' making decisions that should be made by legislatures have been the domain of conservatives, with Roe v. Wade probably being the chief example. But now liberals have said similar things about the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision. It is high time for intelligent discussion, and this book is a solid foundation for a dialogue.
By looking at natural law historically, legally, and philosophically, the authors of this book examine how natural law works and various challenges to it. This book is a very good introduction, and I have come away with a greater respect for natural law and its vital role in our nation, and also new questions to pursue (and more books to buy...).
The contributing authors are an impressive team of formidable thinkers, and while most of the writers clearly come from a religious background, the are pretty good about keeping what they say applicable to a secular society (the last two essays tend to be more theological than philosophical, and I thought that hurt their impact).
I think MacIntyre's essay on the role of the ordinary person in natural law is particularly valuable: if the American citizenry cannot execute sound moral judgment, our nation as a constitutional republic is in grave danger. Fuller's essay on Locke's struggles with natural law is an honest and challenging look at natural law's theoretical chinks.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Common Truths: New Perspectives On Natural Law is a collection consisting of cogent remarks and prescient essays: Are There Moral Truths That Everyone Knows? (Ralph McInerny); Natural Law: The Legacy of Greece and Rome (J. Rufus Fears); Aquinas, Natural Law, and the Challenges of Diversity (John Jenkins); John Locke's Reflections on Natural Law and the Character of the Modern World (Timothy Fuller); Theories of Natural Law in the Culture of Advanced Modernity (Alasdair MacIntyre); What Dignity Means (Virginia Black); Natural Law and Positive Law (Robert P. George); Natural Rights and the Limited of Constitutional Law (Russell Hittinger); Natural Law and Sexual Ethics (Janet E. Smith); Contract Law and Natural Law (Edward J. Murphy); Tort Law and Natural Law (William N. Riley); Criminal Law and Natural Law (Ian A.T. McLean); and Natural Law in the Twenty-First Century (Charles E. Rice). Common Truths is scholarly, intellectually stimulating reading for anyone wanting to better understand and appreciate the permanent norms of human action and their relationships to a moral and political life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. R. Daughtridge on October 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection of essays lived up to my expectations but also left me saddened as I contemplated how much further our country has departed from any awareness of natural law since the book was published. One essay explains how a society can become so depraved that its people can no longer comprehend natural law. Another traces the intellectual roots of our current state of moral collapse to the Enlightenment (secularism, relativism, and individualism), and the significance and social impact of Supreme Court decisions in 1961, 1962, and 1963, and The Pill. I heartily recommend this book as a guide to understanding how we reached our current situation. Sadly, the call for a renaissance of natural law thinking seems even more unrealistic now than when the book was published in 2000.
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