Monday, July 15, 2013

NNLT in NCBQ


The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, has just put out a special issue on the theme “Critiques of the New Natural Law Theory.”  You can find the issue online here.  My essay “The Role of Nature in Sexual Ethics” appears in the issue.  It is an excerpt from a longer article to be published in a forthcoming volume from the NCBC.  (As I indicate in the essay, many topics not addressed there, including responses to various objections, are dealt with in the forthcoming longer article, which is the most detailed and systematic thing I’ve written on the topic of sexual morality.)

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know its an odd request, but could you post something on the philosophy of Edith Stein,in realtion to Thomism. Is she a thomist?can she offer any insights for thomists?. She seems to share striking similarities with the lublin school of Thomism . As a student of philosophy who is interested in the intersection of both analytic and continental philosophy with Thomism. I would really appreciate the insight of a wise thomist on the issue.

rank sophist said...

From the excerpt:

For the traditional natural law theorist, our sexual faculties have two natural ends, procreative and unitive, and what is good for us in the context of sexuality is therefore defined in terms of these ends.

This brings up an issue I've been thinking about recently. The language of dual-purpose "procreative" and "unitive" sex dates from no earlier than Humanae Vitae, and the mature formulation of that language dates from no earlier than Theology of the Body. It is not a Scholastic concept, to my knowledge. Aquinas certainly never uses such terms. Generally, most church writers throughout history emphasized the procreative angle and left little room for anything else. Aquinas follows Lombard in vaguely gesturing toward the value of marital sex as such, but this is found only in the early, patchy Commentary on the Sentences. So it's a very big stretch to say that the traditional natural law perspective is that sex is both unitive and procreative, particularly as those ideas are understood in today's society. Better to say that this is what Catholics have decided to argue using natural law methods.

Edward Feser said...

RS,

That is not correct. Though the term "unitive" has only recently become widespread, the idea that marriage and sex have the expression of mutual love and affection as an end is pretty common in Catholic works on moral theology, ethics, and marriage in the pre-Vatican II Neo-Scholastic period, and this was in turn a culmination of developments hat had been slowly building for a long time.

True, these are treated in these works as a secondary end, but I never denied that they are a secondary end (subordinate, that is, to the procreative end). The point is that they are, even if secondary, to be treated on traditional natural law grounds as among the ends of sex.

Alan Aversa said...

Card. Luigi Ciappi, the theologian for many popes beginning with Pius XII, wrote a good article on Humanæ Vitæ, natural law, and contraception entitled "CHRISTIAN MORALITY AND SCIENTIFIC HUMANISM."

Mr. Green said...

Rank Sophist: Generally, most church writers throughout history emphasized the procreative angle and left little room for anything else.

Well, there's a simple and obvious sense in which this is false: the notion of "two becoming one" is as old as Adam — if procreation were really all that mattered, then adultery would be fine and dandy as long as you made sure to produce bastard offspring. It's just the reproduction that people tend to have problems with. Now if you're pointing out certain changes in language and emphasis, that's fine, but given the drastic societal and technological changes in the twentieth century, that's not surprising.

Alypius said...

Is there any way to get at the article without a subscription?

Would love to read it but don't have a subscription to this journal....

Charles said...

Argh! It's not on ebsco yet, so I can't get at it. Look forward to reading it - and the rest of the articles too. I submitted an article on embryo adoption from a traditional Thomistic perspective to NCBQ and should hear whether they accept it or not in a few weeks. I've always found it to be a good journal.

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

Is NCBQ peer reviewed? I want to be able to use it in a term paper, and it's always best to use peer reviewed articles.

Charles said...

Yes, NCBQ is a peer reviewed journal.

rank sophist said...

Prof. Feser,

Thanks for the response. I wasn't aware that late Scholasticism had developed the dual-purpose concept, but it makes sense. Chances are low that Humanae Vitae was spawned in a void. I wonder, though, when the spiritual, quasi-Hindu unitive angle finally came into clear view. Much of the Catholic material I've read anachronistically reads Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body into ancient writers who would have been shocked by them. Presumably the same could be said about the Neo-Scholastic formulation of those ideas. In any case, thanks again for indulging me.

Mr. Green,

The Bible is a very vague text that is interpreted differently in different times. To us, the concept of spiritually unitive sex was there all along. But perusing what Augustine, Clement, Athenagoras, Jerome or even Aquinas (among others) had to say about the matter shows that they didn't think our reading was "obvious". I wouldn't go so far as to call it an innovation--I agree that it has Biblical support--, but the concept of unitive sex as we understand it today would have terrified the majority of Christian writers throughout history.

Also, in response to your comment about adultery, the idea that marriage is a holy and undefiled union has existed since the time of the earliest church. Nearly everyone (even Tertullian!) has agreed that marriage is good. This is not to say, though, that everyone thought of sex as such as good. To my knowledge, this view had no precedent prior to Peter Lombard, and his version was almost totally alien to the modern Catholic understanding.

(Keep in mind that I'm not saying that the modern Catholic understanding of sex is wrong. I personally think that Theology of the Body is one of the greatest documents produced by Christianity. I'm just trying to figure out the history behind it.)

George R. said...


I personally think that Theology of the Body is one of the greatest documents produced by Christianity.

I don't think we that kind of sarcasm here.

Ben Dunlap said...

Interesting comments here on 'unitive'. Robert George et al. have been arguing lately that real union can only be achieved by sexual intercourse of the procreative kind -- and that this real union consists precisely in the co-operation of the spouses toward a common end that is extrinsic to either of them (i.e., a baby).

On this understanding there can be no separation of the two ends (procreative and unitive) because they are not separate in reality. Procreative sex is by its nature unitive, and conversely the only kind of sex that can unite two persons is the procreative kind.

I found this idea very helpful when I first encountered it, but had not yet heard of the distinction between new and traditional NLT. Wondering now how it squares with a traditional A-T understanding but I think I'll wait for the NCBC book (and its book-scale essays).

Brandon said...

Talk about the unitive character is an outgrowth of talk in terms of conjugal friendship, which is the older way of talking about the sorts of things that tend to be associated with the word 'unitive'. (It is also worth pointing out, perhaps, that whenever anyone in Latin says conjugalis, 'unitive' is a possible, and entirely correct, translation, even if we usually go for the cognate 'conjugal'; it's etymologically what it means, and the concept of 'uniting' is why Latin uses the word in sexual contexts.) Given that, it has always seemed to me that the most reasonable way to regard the relation between the unitive and procreative ends is to regard it as a relation between the generic and the specific; the unitive end is that which is required for the generic character of the act and the procreative is what makes it the kind of unitive act it is.

A Nanny Moose said...

Procreative sex is by its nature unitive, and conversely the only kind of sex that can unite two persons is the procreative kind

So, for example, if a man rapes a woman and she gets pregnant, it's a unitive act by its very nature, while sex between a happily married couple who are past their childbearing years cannot possible be unitive. How very ... um ... interesting.

Hugh said...

The act of natural intercourse between an infertile couple is still unitive and procreative per se, even if, due to conditions outside the act itself, conception doesn't follow.

And yes, a forced act of intercourse by a rapist is still unitive, metaphysically speaking: for this act brings into existence from the complimentary bodies of a man and a woman a single organ, the end of which is the generation of new life. Thus, Humanae Vitae (para 12) says the act of intercourse unites a couple in the closest possible way (artissimo sociat vinculo) - no other natural act brings two creatures together so closely that they create an organ with a function that neither body can perform outside of the act. (P.S. this is why condomistic intercourse cannot be classed as real sexual intercourse. It prevents this radical union of the bodies, and thus the creation of the organ of procreation. It is insufficiently unitive and procreative and is thus never permissible.)

Brandon said...

if a man rapes a woman and she gets pregnant, it's a unitive act by its very nature

But yes, and the 'by its nature' part is essential. Stop gut-reacting and reason it through. Why is rape such a terrible thing? It takes an act by nature geared to intimate union and by will perverts it into an attack and domination rather than a union. It is a violent assault, but far worse than an ordinary violent assault because it is a betrayal of a person, and it is precisely this aspect that makes it a betrayal: to take what by nature is for intimate unitive friendship and bringing about new life and using the very aspects that suit it for that to harm and attack.

A Nanny Moose said...

You seem to be using the word "unitive" to mean something like "the union between sperm and ovum to create a new life." But then it just becomes a synonym for "procreative." Then the whole argument becomes a tautology and to say that the purpose of sex is both procreative and unitive becomes redundant.

Brandon said...

You seem to be using the word "unitive" to mean something like "the union between sperm and ovum to create a new life." But then it just becomes a synonym for "procreative."

This is self-contradictory: if union is something in order to create a new life, the union cannot itself be the creation of new life, but something related to it as means to end, at least in this particular case.

Joe K. said...

I thought I'd maybe ask some questions. Please forgive me if these questions are answered in the article; I haven't bought the article, so I haven't been able to read it. Anyway, much of the time I struggle with what "unitive" actually means. I think it's easier (despite all the difficult metaphysics) to figure out what "procreative" means. In fact, I'm pretty sure everyone knows what it means, and the idea that sex is "aimed at procreation" is pretty obvious, even if not everyone agrees on the moral ramifications of this reality.

But the definition or even the meaning of "unitive" is a lot trickier. And since this is the case, the moral ramifications are a lot trickier as well. For example, the sentence "the penis is by its nature aimed at the creation of life" makes sense, but I don't even know how to put that in terms of a unitive act. I think this is probably because the procreative act has necessary body parts and faculties, whereas the unitive act pulls in concepts of soul or even just complex emotions. "The human soul is by its nature aimed at love between members of the opposite sex."(?) Something like that?

I guess the question is this: what does it mean for sex to be unitive? This is a bit like asking "what is love" (baby, don't hurt me), I guess, but I think it's important to explore. There seem to be some basic things; a unitive sexual act is an expression of love. But not just any type of love. It cannot be the love of a mother for its child. Feser uses the term "affection" as well, but obviously he can't mean the affection a person has for his buddy or his dog. And this seems an issue not just of degree but of type. There's a certain type of love and affection that must exist to even call the act unitive. And it can't be just a procreative act (that is, a sex act). A rape may be procreative, but it is hardly unitive. There's a deeper level of connection beyond the physical, even if (and I agree) the physical has to be there to call it unitive.

Then again, I'm not totally certain that the emotion or love is its sort of own end. At least, if unity is an end, I'm not totally sure how one would act contrary to it. To act contrary to the procreative end, you would have to use your sexual faculty in such a way that is necessarily (by its nature) not aimed at procreation (condoms, hands, mouths, anuses), but if a man has sex with his wife, whom he does not really like at all but is mostly bored with or indifferent about, I'm not sure if I would say he frustrated the unitive end. He may not be acting out of a closeness or affection for her, but I don't think I would call the act not unitive or a perversion of the unity.

And then there's of course the homosexual who is married to someone of the opposite sex (either out of choice, social pressure, or whatever). It is very unlikely he feels the same sort of affection a heterosexual would feel for a lover of the opposite sex, but I would surely not call his sexual expression with his wife a perversion of the unitive act. At least, if that were the case, it seems the Church would note that homosexuals cannot morally marry members of the opposite sex. But it certainly raises the question: can a homosexual love his wife and have affection for her in a way that would make the sexual act count as unitive?

I could buy that committing a sexual act out of hatred, violence, or uncontrollable lust (and not just indifference or even duty) would pervert the unitive end. I would think something like rape, which would surely fulfill the procreative end, would not fulfill the unitive end, even if one is raping his wife. Then again, maybe a perverted faculty argument doesn't exactly fit well when discussing this. And I think it probably foolish to even consider these ends separate in a meaningful way.

Again, apologies if this is discussed in more detail in the article. I'm looking forward to the longer piece.

Glenn said...

Rank,

> it's a very big stretch to say that the traditional natural law perspective is that...

But who is doing the stretching?

Unless I'm reading it wrong, the excerpt you quoted from points to a perspective of the traditional natural law theorist (i.e., the TNL theorist) rather than to what traditionally has been emphasized in discussions about natural law throughout the ages ("For the traditional natural law theorist, our...").

21st Century Scholastic said...

Hi Joe,

as i see it, "unitive" has two possible meanings: an act that simply points at creating or strenghtening a bond between two people, or an act that literally makes two people become one (Finnis, George, Budziszewski, Pruss, etc.)

If the first meaning is correct, "casual"/"No-strings-attached"/promiscuous sex would be a paradigm example of a non-unitive act. If the second meaning of "unitive" is the right one, every contracepted act is a violation of it. IVF is also not unitive, under both conceptions of "union".

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Brandon,

I'm afraid I don't think your usage of the term "unitive" coincides with Ed's. Ed wrote:

"Though the term 'unitive' has only recently become widespread, the idea that marriage and sex have the expression of mutual love and affection as an end is pretty common in Catholic works on moral theology, ethics, and marriage in the pre-Vatican II Neo-Scholastic period."

That seems to be quite different from your definition, which, instead of affirming two ends of the marital act - the unitive and the procreative - merges them into one end. You argue that "the relation between the unitive and procreative ends is.... a relation between the generic and the specific," and you go on to state that "the unitive end is that which is required for the generic character of the act." There's no reference here to what the French call la vie de la couple: the definition that you are proposing here is an utterly impersonal one.

Later on, though, you refer to "intimate unitive friendship and bringing about new life" as if they were dual ends, which is much more in keeping with Ed's usage (and the thinking of Catholic moral theologians).

I would also have to disagree with your analysis of what the essential the malice of rape consists in: taking "what by nature is for intimate unitive friendship and bringing about new life and using the very aspects that suit it for that to harm and attack." This analysis works well for "penis-vagina" rape. There are however other kinds of rape which involve neither organ: for instance, sticking a blunt instrument up someone's orifice. Such acts are every bit as violent and traumatizing as intra-vaginal rape; they can scar a person for life and shatter his/her psyche. Yet they do not involve taking "what by nature is for intimate unitive friendship and bringing about new life." Perhaps it is simpler to say that rape violates the dignity of the body (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) in a unique way, and leave it at that. My two cents.

Charles said...

I think that when dealing with the "unitive and procreative meanings" of the sex act in Humanae Vitae and subsequent documents, it's important to keep in mind that Paul VI was concerned to respond to those who wanted to claim that "conjugal love" (which was a then-current mis-translation of mutuum adiutorium) as an end of the marriage act was perhaps the most prominent end of the act, and so a couple's sex life should be judged as a whole to be ordered to procreation even if they deliberately rendered the occasional sex act infertile by contraception. So Paul VI was concerned to show that the demands of conjugal love entail the necessary connection between the unitive and procreative "meanings" of sexual intercourse. He insists in the encyclical that these "meanings" must be grounded in the very nature of the act, and so are dependent on the natural teleology of our human sexuality. It's only with John Paul II that we get statements to the effect that the two meanings exist in a relation of mutual interdependency, such that a non-unitive act (i.e., one that is the expression and cause of the couple's increased affective union) is not "fully" procreative. This suggests, to me at any rate, that the term "procreation" in these post-VII documents means something like what "proles" meant in the standard pre-VII treatments, and so includes the education of the offspring in the stable union of the family. It can also be said that the marriage act is only unitive when it is procreative, since it is the fundamental ordination of the act to the begetting of offspring that enjoins the demand that the couple who engage in that act be already united in the bond of matrimony so as to be able to properly provide for any possible offspring.

Personally, I find the more recent terminology less clear than the older terminology, but that is partly because it was employed to respond to those who emphasized conjugal love to the detriment of the other ends of marriage -- in that, it was a "pastoral" response measured to meet the current intellectual climate in the Church in language that safeguarded the traditional teaching.

As for the interpretation of the "one-flesh union" of intercourse as making the couple into a "single organism", frankly, I think it's ridiculous. You can say that they become quasi-one inasmuch as man and woman concur to produce a single effect, but to say, as some Catholic theologians do, that they become "literally one-flesh" is simply fals.

Edward Feser said...

As for the interpretation of the "one-flesh union" of intercourse as making the couple into a "single organism", frankly, I think it's ridiculous. You can say that they become quasi-one inasmuch as man and woman concur to produce a single effect, but to say, as some Catholic theologians do, that they become "literally one-flesh" is simply fals.

Yes, I couldn't agree more. I address this in the longer version of the article, wherein I argue that these metaphors the NNLT types and others like to resort to ("a single organism," "one-flesh unity," "instrumentalizing the body") are either just more obscure (and less convincing) ways of saying what traditional natural law theorists would put in teleological language, or have no force whatsoever.

rank sophist said...

Joe,

Your confusion probably arises because unitive sex is not a metaphysical concept. It's part of Christian religious tradition, beginning with the Bible. As such, it can't be argued for in the same way that the procreative end can, i.e. demontratively. The best arguments that one can provide for it are probable, and they are simply rationalizations of a pre-accepted idea.

Glenn,

I honestly wasn't trying to stretch that. It hadn't occurred to me that there were two definitions of "traditional" at play. But I think my question worked fine, anyway, so no harm done.

Charles,

As for the interpretation of the "one-flesh union" of intercourse as making the couple into a "single organism", frankly, I think it's ridiculous.

What's so strange about this? The idea is as old as Plato's "man-woman", if not older. Plus, it has fairly strong Biblical support.

Charles said...

rank,

"One" can be said in many ways. Those who claim that the couple become one flesh in the sex act insist on a "literal" unity. What is meant by "literal"? Well, they claim that the couple becomes a "single organism." What is a single organism? A living substance, composed of form and a body potentially having life. A body potentially having life is one that is organically complex (hence the name "organism"). Do the male and the female become a single living organism in sex? Not at all. Hence the unity involved cannot be a "literal" unity as these authors allege.

Glenn said...

Rank,

Glenn,

I honestly wasn't trying to stretch that. It hadn't occurred to me that there were two definitions of "traditional" at play.


There is only one 'definition' of 'traditional' at play in the excerpt. And 'traditional' there refers not to a set of behaviors with a long history, but to a long standing foundation undergirding and informing the thought of natural law; specifically, to natural law's Aristotelian metaphysical foundation (see here).

(But if one should want anyway to think of 'traditional' there as referring to some behavior with a long history, then the behavior referred to would be that of approaching natural law from an Aristotelian metaphysical foundation, and not at all that of giving utterance to particular linguistic constructs.)

- - - - -

From B. Mortensen's THE RELATION OF THE JURIDICAL AND SACRAMENTAL IN MATRIMONY ACCORDING TO THOMAS AQUINAS:

o The criticisms of Saint Thomas's approach to marriage include but are not limited to the following: ... He overemphasizes the physical aspect of marriage and while not giving enough attention to the "unitive end" of marriage or the spiritual benefits marriage offers to the spouses... (p. 5)

o The subtlety with which [Aquinas] treats the relationship between what we now call [my emphasis] "the procreative and the unitive ends" of marriage can easily be lost even on those who are very familiar with his work.... In the first place, Aquinas would never have spoken of a "unitive end" of marriage, because as we saw in section 1, union pertains to the essence of marriage. It is what marriage is for the sake of its ends. (p. 20)

21st Century Scholastic said...

Mmmh. I disagree with the "two people becoming literally one flesh" theory, but it's uncharitable to call it "ridiculous". NNL theorists make a very good case in favor of it. Read, for example, Budziszewski's Touchstone article "The Meaning of Sex".

Also, Charles, they have a slightly different definition of organism, based on a hegelian conception of teleology. Read Pruss' paper "Christian Sexual Ethics and Teleological Organicity".

Rank Sophist,

a "Christian" concept? Do we really need the Bible to know that sex is a deeply unifiying experience (perhaps, the *most* unifying)?

21st Century Scholastic said...

P.S. Maybe it's not fair to classify Budziszewski as a NNL theorist (i still haven't read his works on natural law), but he definitely accepts the "two people becoming one", and cites Finnis approvingly.

Charles said...

21st C Scholastic,

I wouldn't call Budziszewski an NNL theorist, though he does have sympathies for it. I got the sense that he didn't quite understand the differences between NNL and traditional natural law theory, at least in "what we can't not know".

I read Pruss' paper a little while ago, so I am aware of that interpretation. I think Pruss is quite wrong in thinking that the Hegelian picture he paints is compatible with Aristotle and St. Thomas. My major complaint about that paper, though, is that he makes much of the "one organism" thing for the first half, but it doesn't actually play a role in his argument later on. I'll have to revisit that one later.

As for the NNL theorists, I think it is fair to say that their thesis is ridiculous. Unlike Pruss, they don't have a worked out philosophy of nature to appeal to, and further, they shouldn't have to appeal to that since their "practical reason" somehow "grasps" the goodness of marriage. So it shows up as a phenomenological observation, more than anything else, and fails in that respect (I don't think anyone ever experiences merging into a single organism during coitus) and is absolutely ridiculous from the point of view of modern biology. I don't see how appealing to something that modern science would absolutely reject (for good reasons) as false is a good argument, either in itself or in terms of rhetorical force.

I was so ashamed of a typo that I had to delete and repost this thing.

Tony said...

Few of the people writing in the past 40 years on the "two ends" of marriage have taken head on the problem that nothing can be said to have 2 ends, where the ends are distinct and primary. Such a thing seems to be metaphysically incoherent. Either one end is subordinate, or the two ends are not properly distinct.

Some theorists, vaguely aware of the notional problem, have attempted to solve the problem in typically simple fashion: those who like the traditional formulations are fine with calling the unitive end secondary, and the procreative end primary. Those who like certain of the NNL approaches I think are more comfortable collapsing the two into one in various fashions.

Perhaps a little more subtly, the alternative approach would apparently be to say that they are two distinct "meanings" or "expressions" of the single, one, primary end of sex, for which we have no unmistakably adequate word. JPII seemed to make considerable effort to push the term "nuptial" into this role, without necessarily complete success, since the word already had a pretty standard meaning. Without trying to re-do what JPII did, it seems that if there is a single end of which unity and pro-creation are "meanings" , it includes aspects of the following:
love;
communion;
fruitfulness;
self-giving;
totality;
complementarity;
and possibly fidelity.

Not surprisingly, it is pretty hard to come up with a single word that carries home a particular way of grabbing aspects of all of those and tying them together in the way marital sex in the ideal does.

But I think that looked at in the right way, such marital sex easily does away with some of the standard objections from focusing to closely on "unitive" or on "pro-creative". For example, normal sex between spouses who are well beyond the age of child-bearing is still normal: it obviously serves communion, it is open to new life (speak to Sarah and St. Elizabeth before discounting the essential point here), it continues to instantiate self-giving (and offer it for the possible new child), it re-expresses the totality of the gift of self yet again, it bears out the humble admission of self-incompleteness by adverting to the complementarity of the bodies, (it is "not good" for man to be alone) etc.

I remain in doubt whether these elements are elements of the "one end" for which we have no adequate word, or whether (as suggested above) they are simply DIFFERENT PRINCIPLES of marital sex, such as the nature, the matter, etc.

Christopher Brannan said...

I know this is a late comment (two weeks after the last one), but I have one thought on the "two-ends" discussion: much like, for Aristotle, a formal cause (such as the soul of an organism) is also a final cause of sorts (see De Anima II.4), which can, itself, have another final cause (e.g., the perfection of the organism), cannot, in the sexual act, the union be the *formal* cause (and a proximate final cause), which is itself ordered to another (remote and ultimate) final cause--procreation? Similarly, is there not, for St. Thomas, two "ends" of a human act: the object of the act (which is also a *proximate* final cause, and also a formal cause of sorts), and the *intention* (the remote final cause of the act)? I wonder if Humane Vitae and JPII's ToB cannot be read in this way, such that the two ends do not simply stand side-by-side, but related as proximate to remote final causes, or, alternately, as formal to final cause (which are nearly the same thing, since a formal cause can also be a "goal" or final cause).

Thus, I am not sure that the "two ends" language need be taken as at odds with a traditional Thomistic-Aristotelian position, even in the pre-"neo-scholastic" sense, if this "remote" vs "proximate" distinction is made. I am not saying that the conscious intention (and, therefore, remote final cause) of a human sexual act must be procreation (it might, in fact, simply be physical intimacy or pleasure); rather, I'm suggesting that the unitive aspect of sex always bears within itself this remote end of procreation -- the two ends stand in line, so to speak, *analagous* to the object-intention (formal-final) duality of every human act. Thus, Paul VI's injuction could be taken (or developed) to mean that the "form" which marriage takes (that of a union, see ST III Q44 A1) in the sexual act, while it itself can be (and is) a sort of end, is ordered further to the end of procreation, and it is this formal-final cause relation which must be respected in every sexual act (much like the act of eating is a type of unitive act which is ordered to nutrition). Sex is a union which is ordered to procreation. That it is a *union*, and that it is ordered to *procreation*, are two truths which must be respected, precisely in their relation to one another, as a formal cause is related to its final cause. Is this both reasonable, and Thomistic?

Alexander R Pruss said...

For the record, I wouldn't actually say that the husband and wife become literally one organism in a metaphysical sense. Rather, they become one organism in a biological sense: they're ends and activities are intertwined in the way that the parts of a biological organism are.

Budziszewski said...

Several of those who have posted seem to be confused about whether I am an NNL theorist. No, not at all, and I have criticized NNL theory in several places. In The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction, I do borrow and adapt Finnis's notion of one-flesh unity, but unlike Finnis, I think it makes sense only if we admit that we are doing teleology -- which Finnis is trying to avoid. J. Budziszewski

Anonymous said...

Has the NCBQ proceeded with publishing the book?