Hegel Essay Natural Law

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By contrast, in the other view of natural law, namely, that of Thomas Aquinas, a natural law theory of ethics or politics stresses, as Bourke puts it, "the rational discernment of norms of human conduct, working from man's ordinary experiences in a world environment of many different kinds of things." Bourke's way of characterizing the Thomistic understanding of natural law may appear to be a bit of a mouthful.

But why not consider ethics and politics, as construed in the light of this conception of natural law, as analogous to certain arts, skills, and crafts?

" [6] It is true that Professor Bourke is primarily concerned with medieval versions of the theory of natural law and with the way in which so-called natural laws were held to be associated with the law of God.

In this context "two radically different meanings for natural law" emerged, the one theological in origin, the other naturalistic or secularized, based on the natural light of unaided human reason.

[2] Proceeding, then, to the Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, natural law doctrines at first enjoyed a rather more dubious status, only to receive eventually their most definitive formulation and justification at the hands of St. In the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to be sure, there occurred something of an eclipse, only to be followed by the great sunburst of natural law doctrines, albeit in somewhat altered form, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The great names that always recur are first those of Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf, and then later and to a somewhat different effect, those of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

And now just as suddenly, and seemingly no less unpredictably, there has been a dramatic revival of interest in so-called "rights theories" - and this just in the last ten, perhaps even in just the last five, years.

True, such recent rights theories have not always involved an effort at reinstating anything like "natural" rights, and certainly not "natural law." Yet many of them have.

For it is an implication of any doctrine of natural law or natural right that the marks and standards of a natural justice are such as to make it recognizable, even in the face of whatever the prevailing conventional or customary justice may affirm to the contrary.

Indeed, in this sense natural laws are held to be evidenced by nature itself, and to be there, as it were, right in the facts for all to see, if we have but eyes to see, and are not blinded by habit or by convention or by social conditioning or whatever.


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