RC 516 - Searching for a Universal Ethic: Contemporary Conversations in Natural Law

Module Level

9/10 STL Reading Course

Related Department


Time Allowance

At least 7 one hour meetings


Continuous Assessment (100%): Written Papers and Seminar Presentation

Module Aims

Aims:  Are there objective moral values which can unite human beings and bring them peace and happiness? So begins the In Search of a Universal Ethic: A new look at the Natural Law (2009). The text is an invitation ‘to all pondering the ultimate foundations of ethics and of the juridical and political order’. (9) This course continues that conversation. Its aims are as follows: to distinguish contemporary approaches to the natural law, to develop responses to the challenges, and to evaluate its operation in different practical contexts. 

 Indicative Syllabus:

  • Contemporary models of the Natural Law in Moral Theology, Political Science and Jurisprudence  
  • The relationship between Revelation and the Natural Law
  • The place of the Natural Law in relation to some of the streams of modern philosophy
  • The applications of the Natural Law in governance and legal justification
  • The place of the Natural Law in responding to current issues. 


  • John Paul II. Veritatis Splendor (6 August 1993): AAS 85 (1993).
  • International Theological Commission. In Search of a Universal Ethics: A New Look at the Natural Law. Catholic Truth Society, 2009.
  • John Berkman and William C. Mattison III, Searching for a Universal Ethic: Multidisciplinary, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Responses to the Catholic Natural Law Tradition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.
  • Biggar, N. and R. Black, eds. The Revival of the Natural Law. Aldershot 2000.
  • Cunningham, L., ed. Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law. Notre Dame, IND: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.


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