Natural Law Theory

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Of Peacocks, Tulips, and Shotguns: Intentions and Side Effects in John Finnis' Natural Law Theory

Of Peacocks, Tulips, and Shotguns: Intentions and Side Effects in John Finnis' Natural Law Theory

More specifically, this thesis is dependent upon the considerations developed in earlier parts of this article. Fundamentally, all these considerations flow from analysis of Finnis’ natural law theory of basic goods. For, as Finnis explains, these basic goods provide incipiently all the reasons for whatever a person may rationally choose and do. This theory of the basic goods, in turn, leads Finnis to his first principle of morality, the integral directiveness of practical reason. This principle, naturally grasped by practical reason in view of all the basic goods, taken integrally, requires a person in all their deliberations and choices to respect each of those basic goods. Taken together, in their entirety, they engender a ‘moral’ sense of ‘ought’ in the practical cognition of a human person. This moral ought, however, is violated whenever a person chooses, not from robust deliberations taking into account all the basic goods, but in circumstances where one has willingly permitted the fullness of practical reason to be ‘fettered’ due to the influence of feelings or other truncated considerations. In these situations, the person acts unreasonably, i.e., immorally by failing to apply all of one’s naturally grasped rational principles.
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Natural Law Theory in Spain and Portugal

Natural Law Theory in Spain and Portugal

Some Legal Philosophers, like Javier Antuátegui, Rafael de Asís, Gregorio Peces- Barba, Luis Prieto Sanchís, Gregorio Robles, among others, have attempted a positivist grounding of what the revolutionary French agreed to call “droits de l’homme”. Yet, a grounding based upon Natural Law allows a better explanation of the legal vocation of these rights. This may be shown by drawing on Romanic languages, where the same root explains the words Law (derecho, diritto, direito, droit) and rights (derechos, diritti, direitos, droits), alluding to a both normative (legal) and moral (right) reality. Thus, it is much harder and less convincing to explain the scope of the term “derechos” (rights) in the expression “derechos humanos” (human rights) from positivist premises than from a Natural Law background. This is due to the fact that Positivism is a monist theory and therefore it only attributes legal character to positive Law. From this perspective, talking about any natural, human, moral or pre-normative right, as something different from positive law constitutes a contradictio in terminis. Natural Law theory, as a dualist legal theory, distinguishes two different normative systems: a Natural Law conformed by a compound of values prior to positive law that must ground, guide and critically limit every legal regulation; and positive law, established or imposed by the binding force of those holding the power in society. They are “rights” with a diverse deontic status but with no independence, because every natural right tends to be positivised and every positive right, as long as it pretends to be fair, must follow Natural Law. Natural Law has had the persistent historical function of establishing limits to power. Pervading the civic conscience with the idea
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A normative theory of international law based on new natural law theory

A normative theory of international law based on new natural law theory

149 The idea of the international common good bears certain parallels to the concepts of public morality and public order which, as mentioned earlier, feature in several international human rights instruments as justifications for limiting the exercise of human rights. 62 In a manner similar to these concepts, the international common good concerns the maintenance of a quality of mutual respect and cooperation between states and a supportive physical global environment, as factors that are important to the possibility of human flourishing. Drawing on Finnis’s observations regarding public morality and public order, it may be further suggested that while the international common good is commonly to the advantage of all states and all persons, it is of particular significance to weaker states in the international community. Given, for example, the substantial variations in the economic and military capacities of states, it is evident that violations of international peace may contribute to a state of affairs in which more powerful states are more likely to achieve their objectives in inter-state relations through means not available to weaker states; the increased vulnerability of weaker states in this regard may impair the ability of these states to achieve their own objectives, with consequent detrimental impacts on the ability of persons within these states to enjoy their human rights. The value of maintaining peace to the international community as a whole, and especially to the less powerful states within this community, provides a compelling justification for limiting the freedom of states through, for example, introducing international rules restricting states’ ability to unilaterally resort to aggression. Thus, promoting and preserving the international common good may be identified as an appropriate principle of justice for international law not only because of its instrumental relationship to the exercise of human rights, but also because of the relevance of this
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Health, Health Care, and Rights: A New Natural Law Theory Perspective

Health, Health Care, and Rights: A New Natural Law Theory Perspective

Indeed, when we situate such rights within a given political community, then, as Finnis observes, they amount to an outline of a political community's "common go[r]

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One Myth of the Classical Natural Law Theory: Reflecting on the 'Thin' view of Legal Positivism

One Myth of the Classical Natural Law Theory: Reflecting on the 'Thin' view of Legal Positivism

Our present point is, however, not centred on H.i and H.ii. In our view this criti- cism has already been explored with positive effects. Our argument centres instead on H.iii. Our criticism of the very “thin” social sources thesis is concomitantly a very thin criticism, a criticism that can even be succinctly summarised (paraphras- ing Anscombe) as follows: Even if per impossibile the fact of engagement with rules of recognition could naturally give rise to the obligatory force of law; and even if the concept of legal obligation were naturally comprehensible without any resort to substantial and content-dependent reasons for action, the specific facts of engagement with rules of recogni- tion that are deemed to be sources of law are not recognizable as instances of the general type “engaging with the law” on purely empirical grounds. As a result, the criticism of Gardner’s social sources thesis depends not on the fact that the thesis fails to recog- nize the moral merits of the law, but rather on the fact that Gardner’s “thin view” lacks plausibility.
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Natural Law Theory and its Relatives

Natural Law Theory and its Relatives

These doctrines later were developed more fully in Roman Catholic and Reformation traditions as a way of accounting for the moral virtue, insight, behavior, and wisd[r]

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A Natural Law Approach to Ethics and Morals

A Natural Law Approach to Ethics and Morals

Does natural law understood in this way tend to make moral decisions more relative, principles less universal? The basic principles will always remain, such as respect for human life and human dignity. However, new information as to what being fully human implies, or what enhances human dignity, may lead us to reconsider certain accepted practices such as slavery or capital punishment or ‘slave wages’ as contrary to the nature of the human person. 4

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The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law

The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law

Settlements may have other socially undesirable consequences. First, they may result in sanctions that are not as well tailored to harmful acts as would be true of court-determined sanctions. Second, settlements hinder the amplification and development of the law through the setting of precedents. Third, settlements also sometimes allow individuals to keep aspects of their behavior secret, which can reduce deterrence. Fourth, settlements for prison terms can result in increases in public expenditures on jail if individuals are risk averse in imprisonment. 63 A prosecutor whose goal is to maximize social welfare, as opposed to maximizing the expected sanction less prosecution costs, presumably would take these additional factors into account and sometimes refuse to settle even though the settlement saves litigation costs and avoids risk. 64
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Legal Positivism, Natural Law and the Constitution

Legal Positivism, Natural Law and the Constitution

The Irish legal system is thus inconsistent with normative legal positivism: the unenumerated rights doctrine leaves open the possibility that all unjust rules can be overturned once they are sought to be applied. The avoidance of an injustice is considered more important than the general need for law to have and maintain a determinate position that can be identified in a way that does not call for moral judgment. Of course, this does not just undermine the certainty of laws only when a particular law is overturned: it leaves open a standing possibility that any law can be overturned. The test for overturning such a law is “the Natural Law,” thereby directly engaging the type of moral disagreement that it is, on Waldron’s view, the function of law to avoid. If legal positivism is equated with normative legal positivism, it is accurate to say that the Irish Constitution rejects legal positivism as a jurisprudential guide. Normative positivism is a guide to the desirable content of a legal system. It emphasises certainty and the need to avoid moral disagreement in rule identification above all else. (Moral disagreement in rule creation, as noted above, is not a problem.) The Irish Constitution assuredly does not adopt this approach. As with all bills of rights, moral guarantees such as equality, respect for family and property rights invite moral disagreement in some form back into the identification of law. But the unenumerated rights doctrine went far further because it did not even identify any specific moral criteria that required to be interpreted.
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Vanderbilt University Law School Public Law and Legal Theory

Vanderbilt University Law School Public Law and Legal Theory

In this essay, I begin by defining two slippery and often misused concepts, judicial review and judicial activism, and briefly survey the recent attacks on judicial activism. I turn then to supporting my claim that we need more judicial activism, resting my argument on three grounds. First, constitutional theory suggests a need for judicial oversight of the popular branches. Second, our own constitutional history confirms that the founding generation – the drafters of our Constitution – saw a need for a strong bulwark against majority tyranny. Finally, an examination of constitutional practice shows that too little activism produces worse consequences than does too much. If we cannot assure that the judges tread the perfect middle ground (and we cannot), it is better to have an overly aggressive judiciary than an overly restrained one.
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Natural Law as Part of International Law: The Case of the Armenian Genocide

Natural Law as Part of International Law: The Case of the Armenian Genocide

Suppose an unbiased observer would have been asked in 1915 the following question: “Is it lawful for a state to murder 1.5 million of its subjects?” The answer, almost surely, would have been a resounding “no.” But why? Because in 1915 it was self-evident that states could not permissibly do that. Here we can see the significance of the communications by the Triple Entente. The actions by the Ottoman Empire were simply unacceptable, shocking, to any normal observer. It is true that these nations were Turkey’s enemies, but nonetheless, the position by the Entente was against interest because the implication is that these nations, too, were precluded from massively murdering their subjects. It is significant that they did not have any qualms in warning the Ottoman rulers that they would be held accountable for their behavior. Their language was couched in law, not in morality. Surely it would have been a respectable legal argument for condemning the Soviet purges in the 1930s and 1940s to cite, estoppel-like, to the 1915 Triple Entente’s communication on the Armenian massacres. The best interpretation of these facts, then, is that these governments saw that these massacres were not within the legal discretion of the Ottoman Empire. It did not occur to them or to anyone at the time to make the argument that present-day positivists make: Turkey was legally allowed to massacre its subjects.
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Natural Law Reasoning As a Moral Cause

Natural Law Reasoning As a Moral Cause

contrary to natural inclinations results in the thwarting or undermining of one’s well-being. This does not mean, however, that each person who has ever lived will and should always act in concert with the fulfillment of natural inclinations and avoid the contrary. For example, I do not mean that human beings will and should always live in a community, procreate, or even preserve their own life. Due to certain factors such as early training, social context, individual temperament, age, and stage in life, human beings are inclined toward these natural human objectives in varying degrees. In either case, the natural inclinations must always be subject to rational discernment. The intellect, reflecting on human nature and particular circumstances, determines how one ought to act. 14 Generally speaking, human beings ought to
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Economic Theory of Criminal Law

Economic Theory of Criminal Law

Regina v. Smith (David) (1 Q.B. 354 (1974)) illustrates the function of the intent standard in criminal law. The defendant had installed electrical wiring, roofing, wall panels, and floorboards in the apartment he rented, with the landlord’s permission. Under the law, these minor additions became the property of the landlord. When the defendant decided to leave the apartment he asked the landlord if his brother, who had been living with him, could remain as the tenant. The landlord refused, and the defendant damaged the roofing, wall panels, and floor boards in the course of taking out the electrical wiring he had installed. The defendant argued as a justification that he thought he was damaging his own property. A conviction by the trial court was overturned on appeal. The appellate court held that the defendant’s actions did not indicate the type of intent to impose harm required by criminal law. The defendant’s actions clearly revealed the type of intent required by tort law, but not the type required by criminal law.
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Natural Law and the Problem of Postmodern Epistemology

Natural Law and the Problem of Postmodern Epistemology

In his Primer on Postmodernity, Stanley Grenz argues that a central premise of Postmodern epistemology is the rejection of the idea "that language has a fixed meaning connecte[r]

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A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change

A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change

The current formulation of the zeroth law (the law of compatibility) is marred with a number of theoretical problems, which necessitate its reformulation. In this paper, we propose that compatibility is an independent stance that can be taken towards epistemic elements of all types. We then provide a new definition of compatibility criteria to reflect this change. We show that the content of the zeroth law is deducible from our definition of compatibility. Instead of a static law of compatibility, we propose a new dynamic law of compatibility that explains how the stance of compatibility obtains. Unlike the zeroth law, this new law has empirical content, as it forbids certain conceivable scenarios. Having established these notions, we propose a classification space that exhaustively covers all the possible states a theory may occupy and all the transitions it may undergo during its lifecycle.
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An Introduction to Comparative Law Theory and Method

An Introduction to Comparative Law Theory and Method

6. This definition clearly has a merit which is too rarely met among comparatists: being careful that things compared are comparable. Dworkin, Hart and Kelsen may differ as to what exactly they consider “law”; they all refer to the same basic social material and way of thinking. After having practised taxonomy on a very formal basis and having frequently criticized particular taxonomic approaches, including those of David or Zweigert and Kötz, I tend, under a radical pluralist’s view of laws, to limit the usage of the word “law” in a comparative approach to very near that adopted by Samuel. I do not believe that Islam (the only “exotic” “law” he refers to indirectly, citing Glenn) has enough in common with the law as defined at the end of the previous paragraph to be “comparable” with the latter. 15 Let me only bring back to the attention of the reader three more or less explicit definitions of the shari’a by three specialists: a) “The Shari’a is the path laid down by the creator; in following it men will find
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The natural history of property : natural law theories from Grotius to Hume

The natural history of property : natural law theories from Grotius to Hume

This arg um ent fails for much the sort of reasons t h a t applied to the first. Once again, Film er sees agreem ent simply as a m a tte r of express free choice, which can, a p parently, be w ith d ra w n from even by the initial agreeing party themselves, not to m ention by any one of their descendents. Once again, the reason for this conception of agreement is F ilm er’s a ssum p tio n t h a t “original c o m m u n ity ” means positive com m unity, with hum an beings as joint-ow ners of the earth. In fact, he m ust tak e it to be not simply an original co m m un ity , but a perm anent positive com m unity of possession. He does not allow th a t th e original common was simply given up by its joint-owners. (Given a Biblical perspective on such things, it is easy to see how such a view can arise - if the world was given in common to m ankind by God, it is very inviting to und erstan d such a gift not as a historical fact, b u t as timeless, as identifying a p e rm a n en t condition of hum an life.*“1) B u t G r o tiu s ’s view, as we have seen, is t h a t an original negative com m unity of possession was given up because of a change in social circumstances, because men no longer wished to live the simple life to which common possession was tied. It was rational reflection on experience which showed t h a t the original c om m unity no longer sufficed, and the agreem en t to aban d on common property was no more th a n the (express or tacit) rational recognition of this fact. So it is not possible to w ith d raw from private property, once established, precisely because m aintenance of a harm onious social order required such pro p erty . In other words, precisely because to w ithdraw from private property would be to endanger society at large, such w ithdraw al is contrary to the rational dictates of n a tu r a l law. F ilm e r’s argu m en t depends on a ttr ib u tin g to G rotius a doctrine of original
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THE SUPREME COURT’S THEORY OF PRIVATE LAW

THE SUPREME COURT’S THEORY OF PRIVATE LAW

How does this lens help us understand Snyder? It was unacceptable for Phelps to treat Snyder, a father grieving his son’s loss, as simply a pawn in his larger plan to alert the country to the moral rot that Phelps believed was taking place. Providing redress for intentional infliction of emotional distress is a way that the state can underscore Snyder’s equal moral worth. Snyder’s claim is a chapter that fits easily in the story of a tort that has been significantly involved in the evolution of social norms on how to treat different kinds of people over the last century. But it is a poor fit for a story about the government’s attempt to regulate harmful activity. Which brings us to the puzzle: why did all three opinions in Snyder assume that the underlying tort law was simply a species of government regulation? It is this question that we attempt to unpack in Part III.
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The legal regime in the theory of the administrative law

The legal regime in the theory of the administrative law

Адміністративне право, здійсню- ючи регулятивну функцію, ґрунту- ючись на загальнодозвільному типі правового регулювання, використо- вує специфічні, притаманні саме цій галуз[r]

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Sketches of a Redemptive Theory of Contract Law

Sketches of a Redemptive Theory of Contract Law

By the eighteenth century, the merger of courts of equity and courts of law in the Anglo and American legal systems was well underway." Consequently, courts durin[r]

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