Natural Law Theory

Questions for TODAY
  1. What is natural law? Is it nature law?
  2. Outline how Natural law developed over time.
  3. How can natural law be applied today?
Natural law - What is Law?

Natural Law is a broad and often misapplied term tossed around various schools of philosophy, science, history, theology, and law. Indeed, Immanuel Kant reminded us, 'What is law?' may be said to be about as embarrassing to the jurist as the well-know question ‘What is Truth?’ is to the logician.

Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force. That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions or legal consequences is a law (Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 884).

Jurisprudence is the philosophy of law and follows a process and steps to making moral decisions.

Natural Law – A Moral Theory of Jurisprudence

Natural Law is a moral theory of jurisprudence or process for decision making, which maintains that law should be based on morality and ethics. Natural Law holds that the law is based on what’s “correct.” Natural Law is “discovered” by humans through the use of reason and choosing between good and evil. Therefore, Natural Law finds its power in discovering certain universal standards in morality and ethics.

4 types of Laws..

Law can be seen through 4 levels or channels:
  • Eternal Law: God creates everything and his will and wisdom is revealed to us through God's revelation...All laws derived from Eternal Law: Is the most perfect and complete set of God's Law, which govern 'the whole community of the universe.' Eternal law or a law governing the whole creation, a law not made but eternally existing and therefore unknowable to humans entirely, yet the source of all true law on earth. Eternal law comes from God and is unchanging. For Example, God created the universe and that the universe has a certain design; OR Humans are given free will to decide right and right behaviour.

  • Divine Law: the sacred text and teachings of the Church, which are made known. Divine ;aw a special subset of eternal law that God reveals to us in divinely inspired texts- the Ten Commandments. For example the 6th commandment - 'Thou Shall not Kill' (Exodus 20)

  • Natural Law: the innate human ability to know what is naturally right. Natural Law: Is subset of eternal law and includes only general rules of conduct. What is naturally right? What is naturally wrong? For example parents should care for their children or we help the vulnerable and those in need or that sex fulfils human nature, however, there is design to be used in a certain way.

  • Human Law: is derived eg laws found in the legal system. Human Law: An attempt to deduce more specific rules from the general rules of natural law. For example: Sex with a minor or Rape is outlawed in Australia which may lead to prison.

Can you think of another example for each one?

The Greeks -- Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle emphasized the distinction between 'nature' (physis, φúσις) and 'law,' 'custom,' or 'convention' (nomos, νóμος). What the law commanded varied from place to place, but what was 'by nature' should be the same everywhere. Aristotle (BC 384—322) is considered by many to be the father of “natural law.” In Rhetoric, he argues that aside from “particular” laws that each people has set up for itself, there is a “common law” or “higher law” that is according to nature (Rhetoric 1373b2–8).

The Stoics -- The development of natural law theory continued in the Hellenistic school of philosophy, particularly with the Stoics. The Stoics pointed to the existence of a rational and purposeful order to the universe. The means by which a rational being lived in accordance with this cosmic order was considered natural law. Unlike Aristotle’s “higher law,” Stoic natural law was indifferent to the divine or natural source of that law. Stoic philosophy was very influential with Roman jurists such as Cicero, thus playing a significant role in the development of Roman legal theory.

The Christians -- Augustine (AD 354—430) equates natural law with man's Pre-Fall state (before the original sin with Adam and Eve). Therefore, life according to nature is no longer possible and mankind must instead seek salvation through the divine law and Christ’s grace. Gratian (in the 12th century) reconnected the concept of natural law and divine law. “The Human Race is ruled by two things: namely, natural law and usages (mos, moris, mores). Natural law is what is contained in the law and the Gospel. By it, each person is commanded to do to others what he wants done to himself and is prohibited from inflicting on others what he does not want done to himself.” (Decretum, D.1 d.a.c.1; ca. 1140 AD)

Natural Law – The Conclusion

In the end, where does law come from? The Theory of Natural Law maintains that certain moral laws transcend time, culture, and government. There are universal standards that apply to all mankind throughout all time. These universal moral standards are inherent in and discoverable by all of us, and form the basis of a just society.


Natural Law – The Conclusion

Questions for TODAY
  1. What is natural law? Is it nature law?
  2. Outline how Natural law developed over time.
  3. How can natural law be applied today?

What sexual ethics might be the same across 3 different religions? Can you find 3 different examples of the same sexual ethic that exists in different religions? Could you conclude that a natural law exists around this sexual ethics? What proof/example do you have? Why would Western people struggle with this sexual ethic? Who is right? Why?

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11 March 2022

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Questions for TODAY

  1. What is natural law? Is it nature law?
  2. Outline how Natural law developed over time.
  3. How can natural law be applied today?
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