chapter  8
22 Pages

Fairness in Holdings; a Natural Law Account of Property and Welfare Rights

WithJoseph Boyle

This chapter develops a natural law justification of welfare rights. The justification is from the perspective of Catholic natural law, that is, the strand of natural law that has been developed theoretically by Roman Catholic canonists, theologians, and philosophers since Aquinas, and affirmed by Catholic teachers as the basis for most moral obligations. The chapter establishes the moral grounds for the political establishment of welfare rights themselves, not for any particular social arrangement that implements these rights. It takes a few steps toward filling in this lacuna and reducing the apparent tensions. The chapter discusses the recounting Aquinas's account of property rights and their limits. It considers whether and to what extent this account is compatible with welfare rights. The chapter argues that very basic natural law principles, applied to certain conditions of modem social life, imply social obligations that are properly coordinated by political authority.