• Although natural law is about constant and immutable principles that furthers man’s quest to fulfill his purpose, these principles are not laid down anywhere. The truths of natural law are not ‘revealed’ to man. • These truths are ascertainable by the use of rational thinking/reason, an ability that man has been given by nature. • Man discovers these truths by observations followed by reflection on ‘What are man’s natural ends? Purpose?. Man discovers the content of natural law (the relevant principles) by reference to the answers to these questions. The society that man lives in must be ordered in such a way to facilitate the realization of the content of natural law, thereby fulfilling man’s purpose.
Why is it called ‘natural’ law? Man is part of nature. Within nature, man has a nature (characteristics, traits). Man’s nature inclines him to fulfill certain ends, or purposes. Such as procreation protection of family ensure his survival Trying to Such as procreation, protection of family, ensure his survival. Trying to fulfill these ends is ‘natural’ to man as that is his nature. As man is part of nature, achieving these ends that are man’s nature, helps to achieve the purposes of nature. Laws that further the achievement by man of his natural ends assist the achievement of the purposes of nature, Such laws, that are in conformity with the ultimate purposes of man, are called ‘Natural’ law. These are laws that furthers the fulfillment by men of the purposes that nature has made it man’s nature to fulfill. Hence, those things that impede man’s purposes (natural ends) are contrary to natural law. When man makes positive law that conflicts with the man’s nature, then such laws are contrary to natural law. Evolution of Natural Law in Europe • Early natural law philosophers were not l ki t d th l looking to propound a theory on law. • They were explaining how to have a well ordered society and in this larger discussion, law, was a part. • But from their writings on ethics and government, we could gather a few strands of natural law as we know it today…
Plato (3-4 th Century B.C) ‘Values’ have an eternal existence and eternal veracity. He said certain abstractions such as redness, roundness, beauty, honour, equality, etc. had an independent existence from various things in the physical world we associate with those qualities. The things we come across in life reflect these abstractions that have an independent existence. This is known as Plato’s doctrine of ‘forms’. These ‘forms’ exist independent of the physical world, human mind and independent of space and time. Man knows these values such as beauty intuitively. (e.g.- a painting could reflect the form of ‘beauty’ although the painting itself is not beauty.) The school of thought that thinks this way, that is, that an idea has its own independent existence, is called ‘idealism.’ What man must do is to reproduce these forms. For instance, try to reproduce the forms of justice, equality, truth, etc. To be able to do this, he must first seek knowledge of the eternal truths.
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