Natural Law Theory

  1. Introduction
  2. Jurist’s View
  3. History of Natural Law
    1. It be summarized under following heads
  4. Basic tenets of this natural law
  5. Merits of natural law theory
  6. Demerits of natural law theory
  7. Conclusion


Natural law thinking has occupied a pervading role in the field of ethics politics and law from the time immemorial as observed by many jurists it is essentially an assertion of faith in a standard of values in the word of J.Stone “ Natural law is an assertion of faith rather than a demonstration it’s dialectical weapons are right reason ; natural with appendages, rational nature state of nature,
conformity with nature sociability and the like , the consensus of all mankind , or of some essential part of mankind the divine will “ The effectiveness of these weapons depends upon the existence of a sufficient number of person who for one reason or another feel driven to assert the same faith or to accept the assertion made by the intellectual and moral reader of the time.

However at some period natural law appeal was essentially religious or supernatural but in modern times, it has formed an important weapon in political and legal ideology.

Jurist’s View

Jurist of different age assigned different meaning to this term natural law. For stoics it is divine law ( just Divindum) – the command of God imposed upon men. For Cicero, natural law is the law of reason.

During the middle Ages, the church was the centre of life in Europe.

All knowledge emanated from the main spring of Christian belief, as interpreted by the Church of Rome

The domination of the spiritual life by the church was attacked by Protestantism in the sixteenth

 The attack against hierarchy which was wages in a number of countries in Europe in the sixteenth century was directed against the spiritual order of Catholicism as well as against the worldly order of feudalism.

In the legal field the early centuries of the modern age were dominated by a new form of natural law philosophy which is popularly know as the natural law of the classical era.

The new law of natural possessed certain distinct characteristics which are different from medieval and scholastic natural law.

The new law of natural completed and intensified the divorce of law from theology, while Medieval scholastics philosopher were strongly inclined to restricts the scope of natural law to a few first principal and elementary postulated the classical law of natural law jurist tended to favor the elaboration of system of concrete and details rules which were believed to be directly deducible from human reason.

The legal thinkers of the new age were convinced that the power of reason was universal for all mens nations and ages and that a complete and satisfaction system of law could be erected on the
foundation of a rational analysis of human social life.

The post medieval law of nature, by a process of gradual development, shift the emphasis from a law of reason objectively grounded in the social nature of human being to a doctrine in which the ‘ natural rights’ of man and his individual aspirations and happiness played a dominants role.

The classical natural law philosophy by gradual steps accomplished shift in its mode of approach from a teleological to a casual empirical view of the nature of man.

History of Natural Law

The history of natural of natural law” say Friedmann “is a tale of the search of mankind for absolute justice and its failure “against and against the idea of natural justice has appeared in some form or another during the last 2,500 years, as an expression of the search for an ideal, higher than positive law after having been rejected and divided in the interval “The problem is still acute and almost as unsolve as ever. With changed what has remained constant is the appeal to something higher than positive law.

History of natural law can be summarised under following heads-

  1. The Greek period
  2. The Roman period
  3. The Christian period
  4. The Medieval period
  5. The Modern period

Basic tenets of this natural law

Law is related to justice, reason, human nature and ethics.

Rules of human conduct emanate from a supreme authority and are binding on all men everywhere

Natural law is opposed to written law, the former is wise, the latter is arbitrary

Nature is an order of thing. It demands equality for all men

Rules of law can be studied on the basis of a prior method to accept a thing without an enquiry or

Merits of natural law theory

The development of the concept of equality, human rights, and democracy across the globe. It is based on reasoning and not revelation- this allow making it possible for everyone to follow the
principal. It is universal and abs absolutist; so it is always relevance. It allows for a clear cut approach to morality and established common rules

Demerits of natural law theory

It is not always a simple school of thought. The determination of what is right and what is
sometimes as hard as anything.
Natural law philosophy stresses what ought to be done and not necessarily ‘what is done’
The theory is based solely on right reasoning, which is a criterion that cannot be verified through
empirical scrutiny.


Naturalists believe that natural law principal are an inherent part of nature and exist regardless of
whether government recognizes or enforce them. Naturalist further believe that government must incorporate natural law principal into their legal system before justice can be achieved.

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