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In Defense of Natural Law Revised ed. Edition

2.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199242993
ISBN-10: 0199242992
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Robert George has done more than anyone else in modern jurisprudence to explore the implications of natural law for American constitutional structures and for issues of public policy and public morality . . . This is natural law philosophy at its best." -- Jeremy Waldron, Columbia University


"Robert George's writings have, I must admit, made me very nervous about my commitments to liberalism." -- Jeffrie G. Murphy, Arizona State University


"These essays by one of America's leading legal and political theorists bring freshness, intellectual rigor and moral seriousness to the analysis of the great issues of the day--from abortion to religious freedom to the relations among nations . . . In Defense of Natural Law is a must read for anyone in search of a better public philosophy."-- I Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University


"On every front, George shows himself to be a champion of the first order: his arguments display analytic rigor, penetrating insight, honesty and graciousness towards his adversaries, moral seriousness, and rare moral courage."--In Defense of Natural Law


"Robert George has done more than anyone else in modern jurisprudence to explore the implications of natural law for American constitutional structures and for issues of public policy and public morality . . . This is natural law philosophy at its best."-- Jeremy Waldron, Columbia University


"Robert George's writings have, I must admit, made me very nervous about my commitments to liberalism."-- Jeffrie G. Murphy, Arizona State University


"These essays by one of America's leading legal and political theorists bring freshness, intellectual rigor and moral seriousness to the analysis of the great issues of the day--from abortion to religious freedom to the relations among nations . . . In Defense of Natural Law is a must read for anyone in search of a better public


About the Author


Robert George is a Professor in the Politics Department at Princeton University. He is the author and editor of many academic texts and journals and is a presidential appointee to the US Commission on Civil Rights.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (April 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199242992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199242993
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. S. Heersink on April 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
George is an adroit, articulate, and erudite author, and this book is a well-crafted and intelligently-designed defense of modern natural law theory. Yet, these features still require the reader to be already familiar with ethics, meta-ethics, metaphysics, and natural law. This book is for graduate students and advanced undergraduates; it's not directed toward a general readership. For a simpler, more straight-forward account cf, Finnis, "Natural Law and Natural Rights," (OUP, 1982).
George defends the neo-Thomistic view of natural law as refined by Messrs. Grisez, Finnis, and Boyle. This is not an uncontroversial stance. The core of the book is Chapter III, where the Grisez, Finnis, and Boyle version of natural law that George intends to defend is given. The book is rigorous and examines natural-law theory from variegated angles and various detractors, making close reading of dense argument necessary. The early chapters presuppose knowledge of natural law theory; thus, neophytes may profitably read Chapter III first. Chapter II is reserved for those already versed in natural law theory and want a examination of meta-ethics nuances.
I didn't like the way the naturalistic fallacy is handled (more "sidelined"), as if it is a minor point to a major premise. But George's defense of natural law theory avoids the fallacy (norms derived from facts) by using the Grisez, Finnis, and Boyle model, and succeeds in staying clear of metaphysical foundations. This caveat aside, I know of no better, one-volume, exhaustive, and sustained argument for natural law theory. It's dizzying reading, and even if inevitably unconvincing, generally worthwhile.
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Format: Hardcover
While the book does a reasonable job of tackling the subject matter, the author overuses compound sentences. Rather than clearly stating his points, the author loses his readers in a flurry of poorly constructed sentences and lists of names. I would recommend finding a more concise read with fewer unnecessary and repetitive words.
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Format: Paperback
A few decades from now, mark my words and prescience, people will marvel that books like this got published by tony outlets like Oxford University. No doubt they will trace a predictable trail of influential backers and ultra-conservative politicos who smoothed the way for a very wan intellectual like Robert George. He has a veneer, and when I first read a few things, there was a moment of being impressed. But then came another moment of pure intellectual reflection, and even on its own terms, by any contemporary standard, his words seemed vastly unsupported. I mean how many times, and in how many ways can you make the same point that there is a religious substratum that has been forgotten. And lo, and behold, Mr. George is here to lay it bare for us all. Robby One-Note is not the half of it. It is a terrific pretense. But what is more interesting culturally is that it all was predicated ironically on the basic demise of culture. Were our culture still strong, and critical thinking still vigorous, Robert George's whole trajectory would never have happened. But in the sloppy thinking of our day, his prissy little animadversions, polishing the Natural Law nugget like a piece of costume jewelry, got ahead. He would do well to keep with his nonsense. He knows where his bread is buttered, and that is what he will do. Because I don't believe anyone is going to be willing to cut him and his followers one bit of slack even if they come to some sense of sanity and decency. They should circle their wagons, because they are beyond the point of return. Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant.
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