In the book’s first section, Hittinger defines the natural law, considers its proper relationship to moral theology and the positive law, and explains how and when judges should be guided by natural law considerations. Then, in the book’s second section, he contends with a number of controversial legal and cultural issues from a natural law perspective. Among other things, he shows how the modern propensity to make all sorts of “rights claims” undermines the idea of limited government; how the liberal legal culture’s idea of privacy elevates the individual to the status of a sovereign; and how the Supreme Court has come to cast religion as a dangerous phenomenon from which children must be protected.
Whether discussing the nature of liberalism, the constitutional and moral problems posed by judicial usurpation, or the dangers of technology, Hittinger convincingly demonstrates that in our post-Christian world it is more crucial than ever that we recover older, wiser notions of the concepts of freedom and law—since to oppose them is to misunderstand both profoundly.
“Hittinger has organized the eleven chapters of the book in such as way as to lead the reader gradually from the ground up, as it were, to his grand, terrifying, and exhilarating conclusions, not least of which is his belief that one of the greatest challenges facing Christians today is the development of a humanism that can resist the dehumanizing and disintergrating effects of technology.” —Giuseppe Butera, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
“Russell Hittinger has written a graceful, probing, and provocative account of the eclipse of natural law in the modern world of thought and action and, above all, a plea and a prescriptive analysis for its recovery.” —Journal of Markets & Morality
“[A] fine contribution to the growing literature on natural law, [t]his brilliant collection of essays will be of value for all interested in the rule of law.” —Choice
“Hittinger’s discussions of both practical and theoretical questions are filled with compelling arguments, penetrating judgements, and well-grounded conclusions.” —Religion and Liberty
Russell Hittinger holds the Warren Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, where he also has an appointment as Research Professor of Law. The author of A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory, Hittinger is on the editorial board of First Things and the advisory board of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. In 2001, he was elected to the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas in Rome.
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