American Interpretations of Natural Law

Author: Benjamin Fletcher Wright

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 9781351532662

Category: Philosophy

Page: 274

View: 813

This book illustrates the deep roots of natural law doctrines in America's political culture. Originally published in 1931, the volume shows that American interpretations of natural law go to the philosophical heart of the American regime. The Declaration of Independence is the preeminent example of natural law in American political thoughtit is the self-evident truth of American society.Benjamin Wright proposes that the decline of natural law as a guiding factor in American political behaviour is inevitable as America's democracy matures and broadens. What Wright also chronicled, inadvertently, was how the progressive critique of natural law has opened a rift between and among some of the ruling elites and large numbers of Americans who continue to accept it. Progressive elites who reject natural law do not share the same political culture as many of their fellow citizens.Wright's work is important because, as Leo Strauss and others have observed, the decline of natural law is a development that has not had a happy ending in other societies in the twentieth century. There is no reason to believe it will be different in the United States.
The Nature of Rights at the American Founding and Beyond

Author: Barry Alan Shain

Publisher: University of Virginia Press

ISBN: 0813926661

Category: History

Page: 337

View: 199

Americans have been claiming and defending rights since long before the nation achieved independence. But few Americans recognize how profoundly the nature of rights has changed over the past three hundred years. In The Nature of Rights at the American Founding and Beyond, Barry Alan Shain gathers together essays by some of the leading scholars in American constitutional law and history to examine the nature of rights claims in eighteenth-century America and how they differed, if at all, from today’s understandings. Was America at its founding predominantly individualistic or, in some important way, communal? Similarly, which understanding of rights was of greater centrality: the historical "rights of Englishmen" or abstract natural rights? And who enjoyed these rights, however understood? Everyone? Or only economically privileged and militarily responsible male heads of households? The contributors also consider how such concepts of rights have continued to shape and reshape the American experience of political liberty to this day. Beginning with the arresting transformation in the grounding of rights prompted by the American War of Independence, the volume moves through what the contributors describe as the "Founders’ Bill of Rights" to the "second" Bill of Rights that coincided with the Civil War, and ends with the language of rights erupting from the horrors of the Second World War and its aftermath in the Cold War. By asking what kind of nation the founding generation left us, or intended to leave us, the contributors are then able to compare that nation to the nation we have become. Most, if not all, of the essays demonstrate that the nature of rights in America has been anything but constant, and that the rights defended in the late eighteenth century stand at some distance from those celebrated today. Contributors:Akhil Reed Amar, Yale University * James H. Hutson, Library of Congress * Stephen Macedo, Princeton University * Richard Primus, University of Michigan * Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University * John Phillip Reid, New York University * Daniel T. Rodgers, Princeton University * A. Gregg Roeber, Pennsylvania State University * Barry Alan Shain, Colgate University * Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania * Leif Wenar, University of Sheffield * Gordon S. Wood, Brown University
The Decline of Natural Law

Author: Stuart Banner

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780197556511

Category: Law

Page:

View: 120

An account of a fundamental change in American legal thought, from a conception of law as something found in nature to one in which law is entirely a human creation. Before the late 19th century, natural law played an important role in the American legal system. Lawyers routinely used it in their arguments and judges often relied upon it in their opinions. Today, by contrast, natural law plays virtually no role in the legal system. When natural law was part of a lawyer's toolkit, lawyers thought of judges as finders of the law, but when natural law dropped out of the legal system, lawyers began thinking of judges as makers of the law instead. In The Decline of Natural Law, the eminent legal historian Stuart Banner explores the causes and consequences of this change. To do this, Banner discusses the ways in which lawyers used natural law and why the concept seemed reasonable to them. He further examines several long-term trends in legal thought that weakened the position of natural law, including the use of written constitutions, the gradual separation of the spheres of law and religion, the rapid growth of legal publishing, and the position of natural law in some of the 19th century's most contested legal issues. And finally, he describes both the profession's rejection of natural law in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the ways in which the legal system responded to the absence of natural law. The first book to explain how natural law once worked in the American legal system, The Decline of Natural Law offers a unique look into how and why this major shift in legal thought happened, and focuses, in particular, on the shift from the idea that law is something we find to something we make.
The Language of Law and the Foundations of American Constitutionalism

Author: Gary L. McDowell

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9781139488112

Category: Political Science

Page:

View: 765

For much of its history, the interpretation of the United States Constitution presupposed judges seeking the meaning of the text and the original intentions behind that text, a process that was deemed by Chief Justice John Marshall to be 'the most sacred rule of interpretation'. Since the end of the nineteenth century, a radically new understanding has developed in which the moral intuition of the judges is allowed to supplant the Constitution's original meaning as the foundation of interpretation. The Founders' Constitution of fixed and permanent meaning has been replaced by the idea of a 'living' or evolving constitution. Gary L. McDowell refutes this new understanding, recovering the theoretical grounds of the original Constitution as understood by those who framed and ratified it. It was, he argues, the intention of the Founders that the judiciary must be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution when interpreting it.
Natural Law in Court

Author: R. H. Helmholz

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 9780674504585

Category: Law

Page: 260

View: 354

Natural-law theory grounds human laws in universal truths of God’s creation. The task of the judicial system was to build an edifice of positive law on natural law’s foundations. R. H. Helmholz shows how lawyers and judges made and interpreted natural law arguments in the West, and concludes that historically it has advanced the cause of justice.
Political Theory

Author: Arnold Brecht

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9781400878550

Category: Political Science

Page: 630

View: 683

In this distinguished work Arnold Brecht, who served under more than a dozen German Chancellors and whose work in defense of democracy received recognition by the Adenauer government in 1953, surveys the philosophical and scientific foundations of political theory in the twentieth century. His wide-ranging treatise sweeps over the entire scope of this century's contributions, including the philosophical, juridical, scientific, sociological, methodological, and historical. The book is a pioneering effort toward an integrated presentation, a first attempt to offer a comprehensive modern political theory. The aim is both a systematic presentation and a full description of the recent genesis of thought. The pertinent teachings of representative writers-some from the past (from Hume and Kant to Darwin, Mill, and Marx) and most of the present century (from Peirce, James, Simmel, and Weber to Husserl, Dewey, Lasswell, Northrop, and Fuller) are analyzed. Dr. Brecht incorporates, chapter by chapter, his own contributions. Social scientists, philosophers, lawyers, and students of religion will find it a challenging guide, written with penetrating clarity and rich in fruitful suggestions. Originally published in 1959. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
The Ethics of Liberty

Author: Murray N. Rothbard

Publisher: NYU Press

ISBN: 0814775594

Category: Political Science

Page: 308

View: 397

The authoritative text on the libertarian political position In recent years, libertarian impulses have increasingly influenced national and economic debates, from welfare reform to efforts to curtail affirmative action. Murray N. Rothbard's classic The Ethics of Liberty stands as one of the most rigorous and philosophically sophisticated expositions of the libertarian political position. Rothbard’s unique argument roots the case for freedom in the concept of natural rights and applies it to a host of practical problems. And while his conclusions are radical—that a social order that strictly adheres to the rights of private property must exclude the institutionalized violence inherent in the state—Rothbard’s applications of libertarian principles prove surprisingly practical for a host of social dilemmas, solutions to which have eluded alternative traditions. The Ethics of Liberty authoritatively established the anarcho-capitalist economic system as the most viable and the only principled option for a social order based on freedom. This classic book’s radical insights are sure to inspire a new generation of readers.