Front Page Titles (by Subject) Professor Finnis Replies - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1982, vol. 5, No. 3
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Professor Finnis Replies - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1982, vol. 5, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Professor Finnis Replies
“Natural Law and the ‘Is’–‘Ought’ Question: An Invitation to Professor Veatch.” Catholic Lawyer 26 (Autumn 1981): 266–277.
In his reply to Prof. Veatch, John Finnis finds that none of Veatch's basic questions and objections properly apply to either himself or Germain Grisez. Finnis denies that either he or Grisez has published anything that can reasonably be interpreted in context as asserting that ethics has no basis in the facts of nature, that a wall of separation divides “is” from “ought” and facts from values, that there is an absolute independence of ethics over against metaphysics, or that human good is an end or ends which human beings have an inclination towards rather than the ends that perfect human beings.
Given such a basic misunderstanding of his and Grisez' position, Finnis makes a two-fold invitation to Prof. Veatch: first, to read strictly and fully what he and Grisez have written; then second, and more importantly, to examine some of the serious questions which his book Natural Law and Natural Rights addresses to those who interpret Aquinas and Aristotle in Veatch's manner.
Who would guess from Veatch's polemic, Finnis asks, that he had reached the same result in his book using the Euthyphro test as Veatch did in his article? Finnis did this prominently in chapter III, which contains a detailed examination of the nature of judgments concerning human good, by means of an exploration of our judgments regarding one particular basic human good—knowledge or truth.
Having devoted more than a chapter of his book demonstrating it, Finnis obviously favors the idea that metaphysics is a part of (and in a sense the fundamental part of) the great search for clarification and explanation. In the book, he openly called his demonstration “not practical but theoretical or metaphysical.” He also claimed that answers to the theoretical or metaphysical questions raised in the chapter are necessary if there are to be any fully satisfactory answers to the deepest practical questions about the topic of human good.
However, Finnis also claimed—and this is what Veatch seems to object to—that just as “a good explanation of molecular motion can be provided” without explaining the dependence of the universe and of molecular motion on the uncaused cause, “so too…natural law can be understood, assented to, applied, and reflectively analyzed” without exploring the metaphysical questions to which Finnis referred.
Finnis' statement simply gives serious consideration to Aquinas' frequently repeated claim that even rustics understand the natural law. Following the Summa Theologica I–II q. 58, a. 4c, it is clear that one can indeed be morally upright without speculative (i.e. theoretical, ‘is’ knowledge) wisdom (sapientia, evidently stricto sensu), without the practical knowledge of craftsmen (art), and without speculative knowledge (scientia). To admit this does not negate the ultimate importance of metaphysical principles to the derivation of practical ethical norms.
Finnis comments in conclusion that: “This (his and Grisez') pedagogical order of priorities seems to be more faithful to the content of Aristotle's and Aquinas' theories of ethical knowledge. It has the disadvantage, I acknowledge, of requiring the reader to attend to more than occasional sentences in fragments of our respective works.”