Saturday, September 02, 2006

Plato's Protagoras

available here or here
From the translation by Benjamin Jowett

In Virtue, Order, Mind: Marie I. George, Plato's Protagoras: On choosing a teacher

Natural Law and Natural Rights

Some preliminary definitions: (following Fr. Prummer)
a subjective passive right to x = to be owed x
a subjective active right to y = to be free to do y; the "moral faculty" or "power" to do y or the freedom to do y

to be permitted or allowed to do y -- libertas

Is the permission consequent to something else? That is, is it given through a command, or law. (Permission can be a type of command.)

Two possible positions?
1. Subjective passive rights and duties are correlative.
2. One is prior to the other. Is law the foundation of right, or is right the foundation of law?

The popular Catholic position is that rights are correlative of duties. That is to say, one has freedoms, but one should use those freedoms responsibly, or in the service of duties. But this seems to mean that freedoms have some sort of meaning apart from duty, or even right action. Does freedom, as pure undetermined potentiality, have any significance for ethics, politics, or law?

What should I receive?
What should I be permitted to do? ~or, What is law forbidden to prohibit? (or permit)

What is debitum? (Something) owed.

[From debeo, debere, debui, debitus -- owe; be indebted/responsible for/obliged/bound/destined; ought, must, should

debitum, debiti--debt/what is owed; (his) due; duty; that due/ought to occur]

What is owed? Some thing. But is it necessarily an inanimate object, something that is possessed? In everyday speech, we often refer to the thing which is owed. In common language, what we owe is a thing. But for Aquinas' account in the Summa Theologiae, what is owed is some external action that bears upon another, in accordance with equality. (And an external action is a thing, even if it is not so tangible.)

Is moral theology or moral science concerned primarily with freedom? No. It is more concerned with the right use of freedom. Freedom may separate us from the brute beasts, but it is not a sufficient guide in itself for happiness. It must be ordered to specific goods and ends, including the ultimate end, God.

As for ownership (our 'owning' ourselves), is it absolute? Or do we answer to some higher authority(-ies)?
1. ownership versus use
2. use is for the common good, even if there is some sort of 'right' to private property

Redistribution of property may be allowed, unless greater evils ensue?

Can subjective active rights curbed for the sake of the common good? Or are the absolutes or foundational to law, in order to protect "democracy" and "freedom"? My claim to own this is absolute--consequently law must respect this claim and not prevent me from exercising my claim and defending it in court.

If it is not absolute, then my possession need not be returned under certain circumstances? (For example, it is wrong to return something dangerous to someone who has become insane and will use it to harm others.)

How do we foster or contribute to the good of another, as an equal? How is equality achieved and maintained?

Is there a legitimate notion of sovereignty or dominion? As Aquinas does speak of sovereignty, the word itself is probably not problematic. What may cause problems is that with which it is associated. Does the notion of sovereignty or dominion entail some sort of account of rights?

Links (various viewpoints represented):
The Correlativity of Rights and Duties
"Human Rights and Ethics"
"Three Types of Rights"
Samuel Adams, "The Rights of the Colonists"
"The Rhetoric of Rights"
Liberty Haven philosophy section
Review of Rights and Responsibilities by Leon Trakman and Sean Gatien
Radical Academy's on natural law; booklist
James Donald's explanation
Ronald Cooney on rights; Carl P. Wellman; "Sunstein on Rights"; "Promises, Expectations, and Rights"
Haines, "The Revival of Natural Law Concepts"
David Forte, "Natural Law and the Rule of Law"
IEP on natural law, property, rights
SEP on natural law; rights; human rights; legal rights
another booklist

Fordham Natural Law Colloquium

Frank van Dun on natural law and rights (libertarian p.o.v.)
Clifford Bate's page

Nicholas Townsend, Social Infrastructure
Christopher Wolfe, "Natural Law and Liberalism"
Charles Grove Haines, The Revival of Natural Law Concepts
Samuel Adams, "The Rights of the Colonists"
"Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Classical Liberalism"
"The Non-Absurdity of Natural Law"
"The Rhetoric of Rights" page
Henrik Syse, Natural Law, Religion, and Rights
Ashbrook Center's review of Zuckert's Natural Rights and the New Republicanism

Fr. James Schall, S.J.:
Homepage; Another Sort of Learning
Essays on Natural Law
The Natural Law/Natural Right Page
"Natural Law and Economics"
"Even More Rights"
"Culture is Never Neutral"
Conversations with Ken Masugi of the Claremont Institute: 2002, 2003
On Reading the Pope: Part 1, 2
Zenit Interview: Part 1, 2
Review of his book on Maritain by someone at Claremont

Dr. Brett has this article:
'Natural right and civil community: The civil philosophy of Hugo Grotius', Historical Journal 45, 1 (2002)
The History of Rights in Western Thought, by Kenneth Pennington

Ave Maria Law Review:
The Catholic Neo-Scholastic Contribution to Human Rights: The Natural Law Foundation by Robert John Araujo, S.J.
See also the articles of vol. 3, no. 1 -- "Rethinking Rights"

See also the debate between H.L.A. Hart and Lon Fuller:
(very important for analytic legal theory)
Summary of H.L.A. Hart's The Concept of Law; HLA Hart's Conception of Law by George Letsas. The Concept of Law and Law, Liberty and Morality.

Lon Fuller (IVR Encyclopedia entry); "Means and Ends"; "The Natral Law Philosophy of Lon Fuller..." (pdf); his [relevant] books include The Morality of Law, Anatomy of the Law, and The Principles of Social Order.

Robert George's "What is law? A century of arguments." (Letters to the editor in response.)
"Social Theory of Law," 3rd lecture
A Crude Tabular View of Some Selected Legal Theorists by Anthony D'Amato

Ronald M. Dworkin
Taking Rights Seriously; Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality; Law's Empire; Freedom's Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution; The Philosophy of Law
Faculty homepage
Leiter Reports post on Dworkin

Various other faculty pages:
Quenin Skinner; John Finnis (Notre Dame, Oxford), Richard Tuck, Ian Shapiro, Annabel Brett, Gerard V. Bradley

No homepage for Brian Tierney.
[Tuck's and Shapiro's books were recommended by Russell Hittinger (Ethics Center page). Shapiro is supposedly a Straussian; I'm not sure if Tuck is. Both have been criticized by Tierney; Finnis disagrees with Tuck's thesis concerning the development of rights talk.]

Misc. Links:
Faculty at Sacred Heart Seminary (Detroit). Where's John Hittinger? Has he gone somewhere else?
Review of Dr. John Hittinger's Liberty, Wisdom, and Grace at Claremont.

Michael Pakaluk's page. Bartolomé De Las Casas Essay Series
(His blog.) Yes I had already posted the url earlier, but this post was started before the other one, and I don't like editing so much.

Liber Sapientiae 7:7-30

Propter hoc optavi, et datus est mihi sensus; et invocavi, et venit in me spiritus sapientiae.

Praeposui illam regnis et sedibus et divitias nihil esse duxi in comparatione illius;

nec comparavi illi lapidem pretiosum, quoniam omne aurum in comparatione illius arena est exigua, et tamquam lutum aestimabitur argentum in conspectu illius.

Super salutem et speciem dilexi illam et proposui pro luce habere illam, quoniam inexstinguibile est lumen illius.

Venerunt autem mihi omnia bona pariter cum illa, innumerabiles divitiae in manibus illius,

et laetatus sum in omnibus, quoniam sapientia antecedit ista, et ignorabam quoniam horum omnium mater est;

quam sine fictione didici et sine invidia communico; divitias illius non abscondo.

Infinitus enim thesaurus est hominibus; quem qui acquisierunt, ad amicitiam in Deum se paraverunt propter disciplinae dona commendati.

Mihi autem det Deus dicere secundum sententiam et sentire digna horum, quae mihi data sunt,
quoniam ipse sapientiae dux est et sapientium emendator;

in manu enim illius et nos et sermones nostri et omnis sapientia et operum scientia.

Ipse enim dedit mihi horum, quae sunt, scientiam veram, ut sciam dispositionem orbis terrarum et virtutes elementorum,

initium et consummationem et medietatem temporum, vicissitudinum permutationes et commutationes temporum,

anni cursus et stellarum dispositiones,

naturas animalium et iras bestiarum, vim spirituum et cogitationes hominum,
differentias virgultorum et virtutes radicum.

Et, quaecumque sunt absconsa et manifesta, didici; omnium enim artifex docuit me sapientia.

Est enim in illa spiritus intellegens, sanctus, unicus, multiplex, subtilis, mobilis, perspicuus, incoinquinatus, lucidus, innocens, amans bonum, acutus,

quem nihil vetat, benefaciens, humanus, benignus, stabilis, certus, securus, omnem habens virtutem, omnia prospiciens et penetrans omnes spiritus intellegibiles, mundos, subtilissimos.

Omni enim motu mobilior est sapientia; pertransit autem et penetrat omnia propter munditiam.

Halitus est enim virtutis Dei et emanatio claritatis Omnipotentis sincera; ideo nihil inquinatum in eam incurrit:

candor est enim lucis aeternae et speculum sine macula Dei potentiae et imago bonitatis illius.

Et, cum sit una, omnia potest; et in se permanens, omnia innovat et per generationes in animas sanctas se transferens amicos Dei et prophetas constituit.

Nihil enim diligit Deus, nisi eum, qui cum sapientia inhabitat.

Est enim haec speciosior sole et super omnem dispositionem stellarum; luci comparata invenitur splendidior:

illi enim succedit nox, sapientiam autem non vincit malitia.