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Natural right constitutionalism: A theory of political liberalism expounded from contemporary Thomistic resources

Walker, Gregory H. 2012. Natural right constitutionalism: A theory of political liberalism expounded from contemporary Thomistic resources. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis outlines a species of political liberalism and an understanding of human rights developed from contemporary interpretations of Thomas Aquinas’s moral, legal and political theory. Working from a reading of Aquinas’s ethics that stresses both its eudaimonism and the capacity of practical reason to immediately apprehend certain human goods, the work builds on this ethical understanding by propounding a substantive approach to justice and natural right in the legal-political domain. It is argued that a Thomistic conception of justice and natural right is consistent with the notion of subjective human rights, including both fundamental human rights and certain ‘liberty’ or ‘choice’ rights. The thesis demonstrates that Aquinas’s innovative approach to justice and the political common good is useful in addressing key points in debates in political theory on human rights practice, ideal theory and forms of social criticism. Such an approach to natural right is developed into a particular species of political liberalism, based on the genus type put forward by John Rawls and Jacques Maritain before him. The work justifies a form of political liberalism in which public reason is focused on building an overlapping consensus on the political common good between citizens through practical reasoning, but one in which there is a permissive approach to the use of metaphysical or religious arguments in the public domain. The work concludes by offering a defence of a form of political rather than legal constitutionalism; one that takes normative orientations on the nature of political freedom and the consequent role of government from neo republican theorists, whose positions are held in some respects to be complementary with those of political liberals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Uncontrolled Keywords: Thomism, political liberalism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, natural law, natural right, virtue ethics, common good
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:40

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