Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Justice in Love

The central problem--or at least one articulation of it--for Catholic legal theory is the relation of justice and love, and so I have been eager to read Nicholas Wolterstorff's most recent book, Justice in Love (Eerdmans, 2011), which is a sequel to his remarkable Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton, 2008). Justice: Rights and Wrongs was a powerful articulation (with an echo in Catholic social thought and the work of Catholic scholars such as John Finnis) of rights from within the Christian tradition (though I disagree with Nick's argument that rights are inconsistent with Thomism and other forms of eudaimonistic ethics, but that's a topic for another day). Justice in Love gets a tough review from Emory's Timothy Jackson at the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews here, where Jackson takes Wolterstorff to task for his rejection of "modern day agapists," including Anders Nygren, Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, and Paul Ramsey. (I suspect I'm with Wolterstorff in his reservations about a tendency to "love monism" in these figures, even if each of them presents particular complications.) But whatever one's assessment of this or that aspect of the overall Wolterstorff position, we can be grateful that one of the great Christian philosophers of our day--after taking up projects on epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, aesthetics, John Locke, and Thomas Reid over the course of a long career--is spending his "retirement" producing a lasting legacy for Christian political thought with Justice: Rights and Wrongs, Justice in Love, and the forthcoming The Mighty and the Almighty: An Essay in Political Theology (Cambridge, 2012)


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The Catholic Church has always taught that perfect Justice requires Perfect Love, that
Perfect Love requires desiring Salvation for one's beloved, and that
Salvation requires the we repent, serve our penance, and prepare The Way Of The Lord. At the end of The Day, can one be an agapist to begin with if one does not desire Salvation for one's beloved?

Posted by: N.D. | Mar 13, 2012 4:57:30 PM