1st Edition

American Interpretations of Natural Law
A Study in the History of Political Thought

ISBN 9781412863278
Published June 30, 2016 by Routledge
274 Pages

USD $54.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book illustrates the deep roots of natural law doctrines in America's political culture. Originally published in 1931, the volume shows that American interpretations of natural law go to the philosophical heart of the American regime. The Declaration of Independence is the preeminent example of natural law in American political thought—it is the self-evident truth of American society.

Benjamin Wright proposes that the decline of natural law as a guiding factor in American political behaviour is inevitable as America's democracy matures and broadens. What Wright also chronicled, inadvertently, was how the progressive critique of natural law has opened a rift between and among some of the ruling elites and large numbers of Americans who continue to accept it. Progressive elites who reject natural law do not share the same political culture as many of their fellow citizens.

Wright's work is important because, as Leo Strauss and others have observed, the decline of natural law is a development that has not had a happy ending in other societies in the twentieth century. There is no reason to believe it will be different in the United States.

Table of Contents


Introduction to the Transaction Edition, Sidney A. Pearson, Jr.


I introduction

II Divine Law in Early New England

III Colonial Importations

IV The Revolution

V The First Constitutions

VI The Framing and Ratification of the Federal Constitution

VII Controversial and Non-Systematic Theory since 1789
General Tendencies
Debates in the State Constitutional Conventions
The Slavery Controversy

VIII Systematic Studies of Politics

IX Constitutional Interpretation

X Critics and Defenders

XI Conclusion


View More