In support of its critique, this article first analyzes Judge Noonan's general methodological vantage and shows how he proceeds, within that vantage, to formulate general moral norms. Next, it compares Judge Noonan's work with trends in the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court between 1965 and the present to suggest that some of Noonan's assumptions about the longer-term consequences of his own methodology for stability and continuity in moral theology may be unwarranted. Finally, it argues that Noonan is not justified in assuming that adjudicative reasoning, without more, suffices for the formulation of general moral norms, or that transcendent moral meaning can always be derived from the church's external practice over time. The article concludes that Noonan's adjudicative style of deriving norms does not escape an element of moral relativism, and his concept of the authority of the church, a kind of fideism.
William J. Wagner, John Noonan on Marriage and the Family: Continuity and Change in Doctrine, 1 U. ST. THOMAS L. J. 724 (2003).