Friday, February 06, 2009

A Note on Natural Law Theory

I was wrong here. Natural law theory has two species. The first entails divine command theory, along the lines I indicated in that post. On this view, it is God's intention in our nature which provides the normativity to be gleaned from in; you get from is to ought because God's will is in our nature and his will ought to be followed.

The second species of natural law theory is the view that there are in human nature certain functional structures, dispositions to prefer, inclinations, (as I've been discussing in the last little while), which are grounds for drawing moral conclusions: conclusions about what is right and which lives are good. (How you get from is to ought I've explained before and will soon do again.) This theory does not entail the existence of God. I was pleased to see Randy Barnett noticing this lack of entailment in the first few pages of his book The Structure of Liberty.