Can the law promote moral values even in pluralistic societies such as the United States? Drawing upon important federal legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, legal scholar and moral theologian Cathleen Kaveny argues that it can. In conversation with thinkers as diverse as Thomas Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, and Joseph Raz, she argues that the law rightly promotes the values of autonomy and solidarity. At the same time, she cautions that wise lawmakers will not enact mandates that are too far out of step with the lived moral values of the actual community. According to Kaveny, the law is best understood as a moral teacher encouraging people to act virtuously, rather than a police officer requiring them to do so. In "Law's Virtues" Kaveny expertly applies this theoretical framework to the controversial moral-legal issues of abortion, genetics, and euthanasia. In addition, she proposes a moral analysis of the act of voting, in dialogue with the election guides issued by the US bishops.
Moving beyond the culture wars, this bold and provocative volume proposes a vision of the relationship of law and morality that is realistic without being relativistic and optimistic without being utopian.
Cathleen Kaveny is John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a JD and a PhD in religious ethics from Yale University. She is a regular columnist for Commonweal.
Preface Introduction Section I: Law as a Moral Teacher1. Autonomy, Solidarity, and Law's Pedagogy2. Law and Morality: Understanding the Relationship Section II: Life Issues and the Law3. The Pro-Life Movement and the Purpose of Law4. Bad Pedagogy, Bad Law: What FOCA Is-and Isn't5. Genetic Information and Razian Autonomy6. Dying Gracefully7. Dying Well, Assisted Suicide, and Constitutional Law Section III: Voting, Morality, and the Law8. Voting and Faithful Citizenship9. Intrinsic Evil and Political Responsibility10. Voting and Complicity in Wrongdoing Concluding Reflections Index