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A. Natural Law Theory: Meaning

Natural Law

According to St Thomas Aquinas, “Law is an ordinance of reason for the

common good, issued by one who has care of the community, and promulgated.” And
“necessarily, law is a rational standard for conduct.” In which it has some features
consisting of fundamental principles of practical rationality, which govern all human
conduct, individual and collective. Such, positive laws are just and have the power in
binding in conscience.

“Law is a sort of rule and measure of acts, according to which one is induced to
act or restrained from acting, for lex (law) is said to be from ligare (to bind) because
obligat (it binds one to act). But the rule and measure of human act is reason.” This law
is consistent with natural law, that is, it is “ordered to the common good”. Only one who
is charge of the community can render an authoritative ruling on what to be done,
thereby setting the standard that members of the group must follow. (ST lallae 90,3)

Thus, law must be promulgated because rational beings cannot act on a rational
standard as such unless they have means to become aware of the existence of the
standard, its status is authoritative and its content, and the promulgation of the rule
provides for this awareness(ST lallae 90,4).

Essential elements of law are explained through the master thesis that law is a
rational standard for conduct.(Finnis,1996:205)

Kinds of Natural Law

1. Human Law- an ordinance of reason for the common good promulgated by him who
has care to the community.
2. Eternal Law- God’s plan to all creation.
3. Natural Law- the part of eternal law that applies human beings it is God’s plan for us.
4. Divine law- part of eternal law that God reveals to us human beings via scripture. If
something against natural law, then it is against divine law too.

Natural law theory of morality

1. Even things which are not man made have purposes or functions and the good for
anything is the realization of its purpose or function.

2. Natural law is the set of truths about morality and justice they are rules that we must
follow in order to lead a good flourishing life.
Natural theory of law

1. Legal systems have a function to secure justice; grossly unjust laws are not really
laws at all, but a perversion of law or mere violence. Aquina’s way of stating this point
positive, positive law has its purpose the common good of the community. Any positive
law which conflicts is inconsistent with either natural law or divine law is not really law at
all, hence there is no legal moral obligation to obey it.

Natural law is a participation in the eternal law. The eternal law is an aspect of
divine providence and the natural law is a participation in the eternal law. The eternal
law is that rational plan by which all creation is ordered. The natural law is the way that
human beings participate in the eternal law.

Natural law theories understand law as a remedy against the great evils of, that
in this context, “natural” is predicted of something (say a law, or virtue) only when and
because that of which it is predicted is in line with reason, practical reason, or practical
reason’s requirement. (Finnis 1980)