Ethics: Natural Law or Voluntarism?

In Beauty in the Word, Stratford Caldecott argues that there are two main branches of ethics, the natural law tradition and the voluntarist tradition. The natural law tradition, which one could also call virtue ethics, was promoted by realists like Aristotle and Aquinas. The voluntarist tradition comes out ot the nomialists, such as Ockham, and involves an emphasis on commandments.

The natural law tradition is interested in what it is good to be and “freedom for,” while the voluntarist tradition is interested in what it is good to do and “freedom from.” Caldecott argues that

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