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Natural Law

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Natural Law or Law of Nature or Moral Law is a universal law that is set by nature.

  • It is called lex naturalis in Latin.
  • It refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior.
  • This law refers to the basic principles of natural rights and wrongs and leads to Principles of Natural Justice.
  • It is often said that this law is a Command of the God that is imposed on Men.
  • This law is established by reason by which the world is governed. It is an unwritten law and there is no specific code or Act for this though this is found in every Act.
  • This law is also called Eternal Law because it has existed since the beginning of the world.
  • Because it is based on the the very basic principles supposed to be to be laid down by God for guiding human, this law is also called Natural Law.
  • Since this law is based on reasoning and rational thinking, it is called Rational Thought
  • Natural law exists only in ideal state and differs from law of a State.
  • Philosophy of Natural law has inspired legislation and the use of reason in formulating a System of law
  • All the above points can be summed up by saying: Natural law is the idea that there are rational objective limits to the power of legislative rulers. The foundations of law are accessible through human reason and it is from these laws of nature that human created laws gain whatever force they have.
  • Aristotle is the Father of Natural Law. Socrates and Plato posted the existence of natural justice or natural right.

The Natural Law Theory, according to Salmond, consists of 'objective moral principles which depend on the essential nature of the universe and which can be discovered by natural reason'.

  • The theory says that a higher or universal law exists that applies to all human beings, and written laws should imitate these inherent principles.
  • If a written law is unjust, then it is not a true (natural) law and need not be obeyed.
  • This theory asserts that there are laws that are imminent in nature, to which enacted laws should correspond as closely as possible.
  • This view is frequently summarized by the maxim - an unjust law is not a true law - lex iniusta non est lex, in which ‘unjust’ is defined as contrary to natural law.
  • Natural law is closely associated with morality and, in historically influential versions, with the intentions of God.
  • Natural law is sometimes identified with the maxim that "an unjust law is no law at all".

Classes of Natural Law

Natural Law can be studied in four classes:

  • Ancient Theory
  • Medieval Theory
  • Renaissance Theories
  • Modern Theories

Natural Theology of Acquinas

Thomas Aquinas, a Western medieval legal scholar, is the foremost classical proponent of natural theology.

He distinguished four kinds of law:

1. Eternal law 2. Natural law 3. Human law and 4. Divine law

  • Eternal law is the decree of God which governs all creation.
  • Natural law is the human “participation” in the eternal law and is discovered by reason.
  • Natural law is based on “first principles”: this is the first precept of the law, that good is to be done and promoted, and evil is to be avoided. All other precepts of the natural law are based on this The desire to live and to procreate are counted by Aquinas among those basic (natural) human values on which all human values are based.
  • Divine law is the law as specially revealed in the scriptures and teachings of the apostles

Related Topics

  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Stoic natural law
  • Cicero
  • Christian natural law
  • English jurisprudence
  • American jurisprudence
  • Islamic natural law
  • Thomas Hobbes and Natural Law
  • Cumberland's rebuttal of Hobbes
  • Liberal natural law

Related Topics