First and Third Person Perspectives in the New Natural Law Theory

Christopher Tollefsen, Ph.D. (Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina)

Date & Time:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


MHC 205
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

The New Natural Law theory pays special attention to the first personal agential standpoint; this methodological emphasis explains several differences between the NNL theory many other styles of Thomistic natural law theory.  I’ll argue that the emphasis of the first person agential perspective is responsible first, for key theses about the first principles of practical reason and ethics, including the claim that ought cannot be derived from is; second, for its account of human action and intention; third, for its claims concerning the limited nature of the state and the instrumental nature of the political common good; and fourth for its claims about the nature of our natural final end: the Kingdom, and not the Beatific Vision.  Yet I argue as well that in none of these domains is the third person standpoint neglected.  It is thus false that the NNL view places either too much emphasis on the first personal standpoint, or too little on the third.  It is, arguably, the only natural law theory currently on offer that does justice to both.

Co-sponsored by the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences and the UST Department of Philosophy.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.