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Fourth Annual Alexander Hamilton Institute Conference

News_AHI Conference 2012_Group Picture

The Alexander Hamilton Institute held its Fourth Annual Summer Conference June 25-26. Professor Robert Kraynak, Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, and Martha Rice Martini, Attorney at Law in Massachusetts, directed five sessions on the theme of "Natural Law in the Western Tradition." The AHI co-sponsors a summer conference annually with the Department of Political Science at Baylor University. Professor Mary Nichols and Professor David Nichols of Baylor's Department of Political Science organize the conference in conjunction with the AHI. This year, twelve Baylor graduate students or recent graduate students were in attendance.

The conference explored the theory of natural law, its development over the centuries, and its applications to practical issues such as the best form of government, the ideal of social justice in economics and social institutions, and the theory of just war and international law. The conference began with the sources of natural law in classical philosophy and the Bible, and then turned to major figures in the development of natural law: Thomas Aquinas, Francisco Vitoria, Thomas Jefferson, Jacques Maritain, Leo Strauss, and the "new natural law" of John Finnis.

See a slideshow of the conference here.

SCHEDULE

Monday, June 25

9:30 a.m. Breakfast at the Alexander Hamilton Institute

10:45 a.m. Welcome and Introduction – Robert Paquette and Mary Nichols

Session 1: 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Sources of Natural Law in Classical Philosophy and the Bible

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Lunch, Alexander Hamilton Institute

Session 2: 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. “Aquinas and the Natural Law Basis of Justice

Session 3: 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m. “The Democratic Impulse in Neoscholastic Natural Law

6:30 p.m. - Picnic at Hatch Lake, hosted by the Nichols and sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute

Tuesday, June 26

9:30 a.m. Breakfast at the Alexander Hamilton Institute

Session 4: 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Natural Rights and the Dignity of the Human Person

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Lunch, Alexander Hamilton Institute

Session 5: 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. “The New Natural Law and the Crisis of Natural Law”

 

READINGS AND TOPICS IN FIVE SESSIONS

1. Sources of Natural Law in Classical Philosophy and the Bible
Cicero, On the Laws, Bk. 1 (sect. 1-24) and On the Republic, Bk. 3 (sect. 22)
St. Paul, Epistle to Romans, chs. 1-3

2. Aquinas and the Natural Law Basis of Justice
Aquinas, On Law, Morality, and Politics, from the Summa Theologiae

3. The Democratic Impulse in Neoscholastic Natural Law
Francisco de Vitoria, Political Writings, “On the American Indians”
Francisco Suarez, Defense of the Faith

4. Natural Rights and the Dignity of the Human Person
The American “Declaration of Independence” and the French “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”
Jacques Maritain, The Rights of Man and Natural Law

5. The New Natural Law and the Crisis of Natural Law
Germain Grisez, “The First Principle of Practical Reason”
John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights
Leo Strauss, “Natural Law”