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The Role of Reason in the Ethics of Maimonides: or, Why Maimonides Could Have Had a Doctrine of Natural Law Even if He Did Not

Michael P. Levine
The Journal of Religious Ethics
Vol. 14, No. 2 (Fall, 1986), pp. 279-295
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40015040
Page Count: 17
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The Role of Reason in the Ethics of Maimonides: or, Why Maimonides Could Have Had a Doctrine of Natural Law Even if He Did Not
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Abstract

After presenting a paradigm of natural law taken from Cicero and Aquinas, I discuss aspects of Maimonides' ethical theory that appear to conflict with doctrines of natural law. My conclusion will be that Maimonides' adaptation of the Aristotelian metaphysic and doctrine of the "Golden Mean" produced a teleological ethic that is reconcilable with his view that certain moral and legal injunctions are revealed. A doctrine of natural law is compatible with the ethical doctrines that Maimonides held. The thesis I pursue is antithetical to Marvin Fox's (1972:V) contention that "in Judaism there is no natural law doctrine, and in principle there cannot be."

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