Edmund Burke and the Natural Law

Transaction Publishers, 10.03.2015 - 311 Seiten

Today the idea of natural law as the basic ingredient in moral, legal, and political thought presents a challenge not faced for almost two hundred years. On the surface, there would appear to be little room in the contemporary world for a widespread belief in natural law. The basic philosophies of the opposition--the rationalism of the philosophes, the utilitarianism of Bentham, the materialism of Marx--appear to have made prior philosophies irrelevant. Yet these newer philosophies themselves have been overtaken by disillusionment born of conflicts between "might" and "right." Many thoughtful people who were loyal to secular belief have become dissatisfied with the lack of normative principles and have turned once more to natural law.

This first book-length study of Edmund Burke and his philosophy, originally published in 1958, explores this intellectual giant's relationship to, and belief in, the natural law. It has long been thought that Edmund Burke was an enemy of the natural law, and was a proponent of conservative utilitarianism. Peter J. Stanlis shows that, on the contrary, Burke was one of the most eloquent and profound defenders of natural law morality and politics in Western civilization. A philosopher in the classical tradition of Aristotle and Cicero, and in the Scholastic tradition of Aquinas, Burke appealed to natural law in the political problems he encountered in American, Irish, Indian, and British affairs, and in reaction to the French Revolution.

This book is as relevant today as it was when it was first published, and will be mandatory reading for students of philosophy, political science, law, and history.

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Seite 254 - This law of nature, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; 1 and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.
Seite 73 - Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure; but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties.
Seite 30 - Far am I from denying in theory, full as far is my heart from withholding in practice, (if I were of power to give or to withhold,) the real rights of men. In denying their false claims of right, I do not mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended rights would totally destroy.
Seite 131 - But he has not a right to an equal dividend in the product of the joint stock; and as to the share of power, authority, and direction which each individual ought to have in the management of the state, that I must deny to be amongst the direct original rights of man in civil society; for I have in my contemplation the civil social man, and no other.
Seite 101 - To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind.
Seite 108 - In this sense the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights. But as the liberties and the restrictions vary with times and circumstances, and admit of infinite modifications, they cannot be settled upon any abstract rule ; and nothing is so foolish as to discuss them upon that principle.
Seite 200 - Nothing is more certain than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization, have in this European world of ours depended for ages upon two principles, and were indeed the result of both combined: I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion.
Seite 78 - They have a right to the fruits of their industry; and to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents; to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring; to instruction in life, and to consolation in death.
Seite 200 - Without force, or opposition, it subdued the fierceness of pride and power; it obliged sovereigns to submit to the soft collar of social esteem, compelled stern authority to submit to elegance, and gave a dominating vanquisher of laws, to be subdued by manners.
Seite 78 - The rights of men in governments are their advantages ; and these are often in balances between differences of good; in compromises sometimes between good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil.

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