Publication details

Catholic Natural Law Tradition vs Public Reason Liberalism



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Among top conservative intellectuals, fighting against liberals in the contemporary culture wars, are those influenced by the natural law tradition. By contrast, in high liberalism, so-called public reason liberalism has raised into prominence. Its main representative hoped that an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines could be expected on certain fundamental ideas present in the public political culture of a democratic society. However, the idea of public reason from its beginnings has encountered the criticism of natural law tradition. In my paper, I will try to characterize this tradition as a type of metaphysically grounded conservatism, and more particularly, I will deal with its dialectical engagement with public reason liberalism. First, I will contrast different attitudes towards public reason among the representatives of new natural law theory with other Thomists. Although the attitude of both streams of thought towards public reason liberalism have been predominantly negative, there is a strong difference in their stance of liberalism in general (i.e. some authors endorse natural law liberalism, some defend the withdrawal into local communities or even some kind of a confessional state). Secondly, I will develop the more radical philosophical critique of the idea of public reason, which we can find in the Communio approach in theology. According to this approach, the metaphysical questions implicated by the mere use of any fundamental political concepts are ultimately inevitable. In the end, this ultimate question of my paper concerns the fundamental (in)compatibility of natural law and liberal tradition. More practically, we need to ask whether there are any intellectual sources for overcoming “liberal alienation” threatening the landscape of contemporary constitutional democracies.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info