How Do We Identify Ethical Norms in an Age of Relativism? The Roots of the Natural Law in Aquinas

Dominic Holtz, O.P.

Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas – Angelicum

Thomas Aquinas is rightly famous for his account of the natural law, but that very account has fallen upon hard times. In light of contemporary pluralism, and our seeming inability to convince others of the truth of moral norms traditionally claimed to be known as derivations from the natural law, some have suggested that we abandon natural law, either for a kind of conventionalism on the one hand or rival, incommensurable traditions on the other. On the contrary, when we advert to just how it is that the natural law is known, we can accept as reasonable the diversity and contextuality of our appropriation of natural law, without abandoning the claim that it stands apart from, and so a means to evaluate, any particular norms that seek to enact it.

Dominic Holtz, O.P., a friar of the Province of St. Albert the Great (USA), is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, of which he has been a member since 2010. He is also the chaplain for English-speaking students as well as the Academic Director of the Catholic Studies program.