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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Black Natural Law

boisi center for religion and american public life


Vincent Lloyd
Villanova University

Responses by Vincent Rougeau, Dean, BC Law
Craig Ford, Theology

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Time: 12:00-2:00 pm
Location: The Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

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Abstract: African American political leaders, from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King, Jr., have invoked natural law. While such invocations are often dismissed as rhetorical flourish, Vincent Lloyd argues that there is a distinctive Black natural law tradition. He explores its essential features and asks whether this tradition continues through to the jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas. Lloyd suggests that the Black natural law tradition may offer novel solutions to challenges faced in current debates about natural law theory concerning the role of reason, the role of God, and the role of public discourse in accounts of natural law.

vincent lloyd photo

Vincent Lloyd is an associate professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. He is the author of Law and Transcendence (2009), The Problem with Grace (2011), Black Natural Law (2016), and he co-edits the journal Political Theology. Lloyd’s current research, funded by the American Council of Learned Societies, explores religion, justice, and mass incarceration.

Vincent Rougeau headshot

Vincent D. Rougeau has been dean of the Boston College Law School since 2011. He previously served as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, where he also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He received his A.B. magna cum laude from Brown University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as articles editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.

photo of Craig Ford

Craig Ford is a fourth year doctoral candidate in theological ethics at Boston College. He writes at the intersection of the Catholic moral tradition and queer theory, and his dissertation explores the foundations for a natural law theory that is responsive to interventions made by queer thinkers. Before coming to BC, Craig completed his BA in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and he earned his Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School, concentrating in Theological Ethics. 

Harvard Law School recently committed to removing the crest of a slave-owning donor from the seal of the college. Villanova professor Vincent Lloyd spoke about the role of Black Natural Law in American jurisprudence at the Boisi Center on September 14.