A Neo-traditionalist Revival
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.
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