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Edmund Burke in AmericaThe Contested Career of the Father of Modern Conservatism$
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Drew Maciag

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448959

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448959.001.0001

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Natural Law

Natural Law

A Neo-traditionalist Revival

(p.172) Chapter 10 Natural Law
Edmund Burke in America

Drew Maciag

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the Burkean dimension of “natural law.” Philosophically, natural law comprised a fundamental “good,” a morality not made by man, yet existing in the universe. In the United States, natural law had received scant attention outside of legal circles. Because natural law represented a “higher morality” than positive law, it was applicable to liberal causes such as resistance to fugitive slave laws, or to Jim Crow segregation, or to military conscription. But in the twentieth century, liberals never really needed natural law, nor did they feel comfortable with its mysteries, so it remained largely the preserve of conservatives. And not all conservatives at that. It took a particular blend of tradition, religion, and conservatism to bring natural law to a wider audience in the postwar era, and to unite it with the legacy of Edmund Burke.

Keywords:   natural law, liberals, conservatives, positive law, morality, conservatism, postwar America

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