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Just How 'Natural' Are Natural Rights? The Battle over Nature and the Future of Modern Natural Right

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Abstract:

At the time of the founding, men such as Jefferson could speak confidently of nature as that which was common to all men as men. Nature served as a foundation for a new experiment in liberty by providing a standard of right to which all had access while also sustaining common opinion and action. But though it may be truer now than ever that no distinction between men can be drawn from nature as such, the concomitant ability of nature to serve as a foundation for the practice of liberty has been drawn into question. Whether through the progress of science, which strives to see man in light of nature’s blind and indifferent processes, or from the insights of philosophy, which reject if not deride the idea of something outside of man serving as his guide, it no longer seems true that nature has any relation to liberty. Yet if it is true that our practice of liberty requires a foundation that at once both binds and guides, then the question of nature can no longer be ignored. This paper first seeks to assess the threat our contemporary understanding of nature poses to our practice of liberty by pointing out the implications of the latter continuing to take its bearings by the former’s theoretical orientation. Secondly, this paper will attempt to sketch a new, more productive relationship between nature and liberty by asking not what the former can say to the latter, but instead what the latter can show the former about the nature of man, and therewith, about the nature of right.
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Name: Southern Political Science Association
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http://www.spsa.net


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MLA Citation:

Mhire, Jeremy. "Just How 'Natural' Are Natural Rights? The Battle over Nature and the Future of Modern Natural Right" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA, <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p212814_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mhire, J. J. "Just How 'Natural' Are Natural Rights? The Battle over Nature and the Future of Modern Natural Right" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p212814_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: At the time of the founding, men such as Jefferson could speak confidently of nature as that which was common to all men as men. Nature served as a foundation for a new experiment in liberty by providing a standard of right to which all had access while also sustaining common opinion and action. But though it may be truer now than ever that no distinction between men can be drawn from nature as such, the concomitant ability of nature to serve as a foundation for the practice of liberty has been drawn into question. Whether through the progress of science, which strives to see man in light of nature’s blind and indifferent processes, or from the insights of philosophy, which reject if not deride the idea of something outside of man serving as his guide, it no longer seems true that nature has any relation to liberty. Yet if it is true that our practice of liberty requires a foundation that at once both binds and guides, then the question of nature can no longer be ignored. This paper first seeks to assess the threat our contemporary understanding of nature poses to our practice of liberty by pointing out the implications of the latter continuing to take its bearings by the former’s theoretical orientation. Secondly, this paper will attempt to sketch a new, more productive relationship between nature and liberty by asking not what the former can say to the latter, but instead what the latter can show the former about the nature of man, and therewith, about the nature of right.

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