The classical worldview developed over the course of two thousand years, beginning with Plato and Aristotle and culminating with St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. This philosophical tradition holds that the world is ordered, intelligible, and good; that there are objective moral truths that we can know; and that thuman beings can achieve true happiness only by following our inborn nature, which draws us toward our own perfection. The idea of natural law is based on this understanding of the world.
Law professor John Lawrence HIll traces the natural law tradition from Plato and Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas and then describes how and why modern philosophers such as Descartes, Locke and Hobbes began to chip away at it. The book argues that in spite of the apparent dissonance between the classical and modern worldviews, natural law is a necessary foundation for our most cherished moral and political values - freedom, human rights, equality, personal responsibility, and human dignity.
Without a theory of natural law, our modern Western values lose their coherence: we literally cannot make sense of them. Thus, we see in our jurisprudence the tendency either to dilute the meaning of such terms as freedom and human rights or to abandon them altogether. In order to retain our hard-won and highly prized liberty, we need a renewed appreciation for the classical worldview from which it came.