A Short History of Natural Law Theory: The First 2500 Years

Throughout its history, natural law theory has sought to address questions concerning the relationship between God and morality, on the one hand, and the laws of heaven and human laws, on the other. Surveys of the history of natural law theory tend to take a chronological approach, and understandably so, as theorists often draw from, or react to, past thinkers. But the result can be less than helpful, as it becomes more and more difficult to see the competing strands of thought throughout the centuries.

This lecture takes a different approach, systematizing 2500 years of natural law theory by focusing on the ideas that separate the illustrious thinkers throughout the centuries, regardless of when they actually appear in time. The result? Participants should have a good, historically informed, idea of the major ideas and disagreements within this rich tradition.

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James Bruce, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Faith and Flourishing
Professor of Philosophy, John Brown University