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Natural law

Natural law (Latin: ius naturale, lex naturalis) is law that is held to exist independently of the positive law of a given political order, society or nation-state.

Historically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature to deduce binding rules of moral behavior from nature's or God's creation of reality and mankind.

It was used to challenge the divine right of kings, and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, and government—and thus legal rights—in the form of classical republicanism.

Because of the intersection between natural law and natural rights, natural law has been claimed or attributed as a key component in the Declaration of Independence (1776) of the United States, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) of France, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) of the United Nations, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights (1953) of the Council of Europe.

Although Plato did not have an explicit theory of natural law (he rarely used the phrase 'natural law' except in Gorgias 484 and Timaeus 83e), his concept of nature, according to John Wild, contains some of the elements found in many natural law theories.[4]

Against the conventionalism that the distinction between nature and custom could engender, Socrates and his philosophic heirs, Plato and Aristotle, posited the existence of natural justice or natural right (dikaion physikon, δικαιον φυσικον, Latin ius naturale).

Aristotle notes that natural justice is a species of political justice, specifically the scheme of distributive and corrective justice that would be established under the best political community;

were this to take the form of law, this could be called a natural law, though Aristotle does not discuss this and suggests in the Politics that the best regime may not rule by law at all.[13]

The best evidence of Aristotle's having thought there was a natural law comes from the Rhetoric, where Aristotle notes that, aside from the 'particular' laws that each people has set up for itself, there is a 'common' law that is according to nature.[14]

Some critics believe that the context of this remark suggests only that Aristotle advised that it could be rhetorically advantageous to appeal to such a law, especially when the 'particular' law of one's own city was averse to the case being made, not that there actually was such a law;[3]

Whereas the 'higher' law that Aristotle suggested one could appeal to was emphatically natural, in contradistinction to being the result of divine positive legislation, the Stoic natural law was indifferent to either the natural or divine source of the law: the Stoics asserted the existence of a rational and purposeful order to the universe (a divine or eternal law), and the means by which a rational being lived in accordance with this order was the natural law, which inspired actions that accorded with virtue.[1]

McIlwain likewise observes that 'the idea of the equality of men is the most profound contribution of the Stoics to political thought' and that 'its greatest influence is in the changed conception of law that in part resulted from it.[18]

Cicero wrote in his De Legibus that both justice and law originate from what nature has given to humanity, from what the human mind embraces, from the function of humanity, and from what serves to unite humanity.[19]

Cicero expressed the view that 'the virtues which we ought to cultivate, always tend to our own happiness, and that the best means of promoting them consists in living with men in that perfect union and charity which are cemented by mutual benefits.'[20]

The British polemicist Thomas Gordon 'incorporated Cicero into the radical ideological tradition that travelled from the mother country to the colonies in the course of the eighteenth century and decisively shaped early American political culture.'[31]

He admired him as a patriot, valued his opinions as a moral philosopher, and there is little doubt that he looked upon Cicero's life, with his love of study and aristocratic country life, as a model for his own.'[36]

The New Testament carries a further exposition on the Abrahamic dialogue and links to the later Greek exposition on the subject, when Paul's Epistle to the Romans states: 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.'[38]

Carlyle has commented on this passage, 'There can be little doubt that St Paul's words imply some conception analogous to the 'natural law' in Cicero, a law written in men's hearts, recognized by man's reason, a law distinct from the positive law of any State, or from what St Paul recognized as the revealed law of God.

as such, a life according to unbroken human nature was no longer possible and persons needed instead to seek healing and salvation through the divine law and grace of Jesus Christ.

Consequences are in God's hands, consequences are generally not within human control, thus in natural law, actions are judged by three things: (1) the person's intent, (2) the circumstances of the act and (3) the nature of the act.

The English theologian Richard Hooker from the Church of England adapted Thomistic notions of natural law to Anglicanism five principles: to live, to learn, to reproduce, to worship God, and to live in an ordered society.[40][irrelevant citation]

At this point, the natural law was not only used to pass judgment on the moral worth of various laws, but also to determine what those laws meant in the first place.

Averroes (Ibn Rushd), in his treatise on Justice and Jihad and his commentary on Plato's Republic, writes that the human mind can know of the unlawfulness of killing and stealing and thus of the five maqasid or higher intents of the Islamic sharia or to protect religion, life, property, offspring, and reason.

However, whereas natural law deems good what is self-evidently good, according as it tends towards the fulfilment of the person, istislah calls good whatever is connected to one of five 'basic goods'.

McLeod has also suggested that most of the specific laws mentioned have passed the test of time and thus their truth has been confirmed, while other provisions are justified in other ways because they are younger and have not been tested over time[54]

The laws were written in the oldest dialect of the Irish language, called Bérla Féini [Bairla-faina], which even at the time was so difficult that persons about to become brehons had to be specially instructed in it, the length of time from beginning to becoming a learned Brehon was usually 20 years.

Rommen remarked upon 'the tenacity with which the spirit of the English common law retained the conceptions of natural law and equity which it had assimilated during the Catholic Middle Ages, thanks especially to the influence of Henry de Bracton (d.

The legal scholar Ellis Sandoz has noted that 'the historically ancient and the ontologically higher law—eternal, divine, natural—are woven together to compose a single harmonious texture in Fortescue's account of English law.'[65]

Coke's discussion of natural law appears in his report of Calvin's Case (1608): 'The law of nature is that which God at the time of creation of the nature of man infused into his heart, for his preservation and direction.'

In this case the judges found that 'the ligeance or faith of the subject is due unto the King by the law of nature: secondly, that the law of nature is part of the law of England: thirdly, that the law of nature was before any judicial or municipal law: fourthly, that the law of nature is immutable.'

Hale's definition of the natural law reads: 'It is the Law of Almighty God given by him to Man with his Nature discovering the morall good and moral evill of Moral Actions, commanding the former, and forbidding the latter by the secret voice or dictate of his implanted nature, his reason, and his concience.'[81]

but drew positively on Hugo Grotius's De jure belli ac pacis, Francisco Suárez's Tractatus de legibus ac deo legislatore, and John Selden's De jure naturali et gentium juxta disciplinam Ebraeorum.[86]

Thomas Hobbes instead founded a contractarian theory of legal positivism on what all men could agree upon: what they sought (happiness) was subject to contention, but a broad consensus could form around what they feared (violent death at the hands of another).

As used by Thomas Hobbes in his treatises Leviathan and De Cive, natural law is 'a precept, or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or takes away the means of preserving the same;

Hobbes declares that men join in society simply for the purpose of 'getting themselves out from that miserable condition of Warre, which is necessarily the naturall Passions of men, when there is no visible Power to keep them in awe.'[98]

Parkin observes that much of Cumberland's material 'is derived from Roman Stoicism, particularly from the work of Cicero, as 'Cumberland deliberately cast his engagement with Hobbes in the mould of Cicero's debate between the Stoics, who believed that nature could provide an objective morality, and Epicureans, who argued that morality was human, conventional and self-interested.'[103]

In doing so, Cumberland de-emphasized the overlay of Christian dogma (in particular, the doctrine of 'original sin' and the corresponding presumption that humans are incapable of 'perfecting' themselves without divine intervention) that had accreted to natural law in the Middle Ages.

Some early American lawyers and judges perceived natural law as too tenuous, amorphous, and evanescent a legal basis for grounding concrete rights and governmental limitations.[110]

About natural law itself, he wrote that 'even the will of an omnipotent being cannot change or abrogate' natural law, which 'would maintain its objective validity even if we should assume the impossible, that there is no God or that he does not care for human affairs.'

There is considerable debate about whether his conception of natural law was more akin to that of Aquinas (filtered through Richard Hooker) or Hobbes' radical reinterpretation, though the effect of Locke's understanding is usually phrased in terms of a revision of Hobbes upon Hobbesian contractarian grounds.

Locke turned Hobbes' prescription around, saying that if the ruler went against natural law and failed to protect 'life, liberty, and property,' people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one.[116]

Libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard argues that 'the very existence of a natural law discoverable by reason is a potentially powerful threat to the status quo and a standing reproach to the reign of blindly traditional custom or the arbitrary will of the State apparatus.'[124]

Murray Rothbard, however, says that Gonce makes a lot of errors and distortions in the analysis of Mises's works, including making confusions about the term which Mises uses to refer to scientific laws, 'laws of nature', saying it characterizes Mises as a natural law philosopher.[126]

Its use in this sense had been inherited from the stoic philosophy, had been revived in the twelfth century, and it was finally under its flag that the late Spanish Schoolmen developed the foundations of the genesis and functioning of spontaneously formed social institutions.'[128]

Luis Molina, for example, when referred to the 'natural' price, explained that it is 'so called because 'it results from the thing itself without regard to laws and decrees, but is dependent on many circumstances which alter it, such as the sentiments of men, their estimation of different uses, often even in consequence of whims and pleasures'.[129]

And even John Locke, when talking about the foundations of natural law and explaining what he thought when citing 'reason', said: 'By reason, however, I do not think is meant here that faculty of the understanding which forms traint of thought and deduces proofs, but certain definite principles of action from which spring all virtues and whatever is necessary for the proper moulding of morals.'[130]

Also, the idea that law is just a product of deliberate design, denied by natural law and linked to legal positivism, can easily generate totalitarianism: 'If law is wholly the product of deliberate design, whatever the designer decrees to be law is just by definition and unjust law becomes a contradiction in terms.

This idea is wrong because law cannot be just a product of 'reason': 'no system of articulated law can be applied except within a framework of generally recognized but often unarticulated rules of justice'.[134]

However, a secular critique of the natural law doctrine was stated by Pierre Charron in his De la sagesse (1601): 'The sign of a natural law must be the universal respect in which it is held, for if there was anything that nature had truly commanded us to do, we would undoubtedly obey it universally: not only would every nation respect it, but every individual.

Nonetheless, the implication of natural law in the common law tradition has meant that the great opponents of natural law and advocates of legal positivism, like Jeremy Bentham, have also been staunch critics of the common law.

It focuses on 'basic human goods', such as human life, knowledge, and aesthetic experience, which are self-evidently and intrinsically worthwhile, and states that these goods reveal themselves as being incommensurable with one another.

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2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog

Courses in philosophy aim at critical understanding and rigorous evaluation of the concepts underlying our views concerning the nature of reality, what sorts of things there are, what can be known, what is of value, and what people ought to do and to aim at.

Students entering fall 2018 must complete Pathways and successfully complete at least 36 hours in philosophy, including two courses in the History of Philosophy, Philosophy 3505 (Symbolic Logic), two Core Analytic Philosophy courses, two Value Theory courses, and an additional 15 credit hours of philosophy courses currently offered by the Department of Philosophy.

Philosophy minors must complete at least 18 hours of philosophy, including one of 1504 or 3505, two courses at the 3000-4000 level, an additional course from either the 3000-4000 level or in the history sequence (2115, 2116, 2125, 2126), and two elective courses in Philosophy (at any level).

University policy requires that students who are making satisfactory progress toward a degree meet minimum criteria toward the General Education (Curriculum for Liberal Education) (see 'Academics') and toward the degree in philosophy.

1204: KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY Examines historical and contemporary approaches to such issues as: the nature of reality and the self, the relationship between mind and body, the existence of God, the nature of knowledge and illusion.

Application of the principles of moral theory to such issues as the obligations of richer nations toward poorer ones, cultural and other forms of relativism, emigration and immigration, nationalism, war, deterrence, intervention, environmental degradation, preservation of natural diversity, and responsibilities toward future generations.

(3H,3C) 3324: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS Philosophical analysis of ethical issues in medicine and biotechnology, such as problems arising in connection with the relations between physicians and patients, the challenges of cultural diversity, practices surrounding human and animal research, decisions about end of life care, embryonic stem cell research, genetic engineering, biotechnological human enhancement, and social justice in relation to health-care policy.

(3H,3C) 3334: ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Critical examination of ethical concepts and theories, such as utilitarianism, deontology and virtue theory, applied to issues that arise in artificial intelligence, including applications in smart design &

Historical and contemporary theories concerning natural beauty, aesthetic experience and properties, the nature and interpretation of artworks, their representational and expressive features, the relationship between artistic value, the value that attaches to nature, and moral value.

(3H,3C) 3454 (RLCL 3454): PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION A consideration of religious belief and its justification with attention to such philosophical issues as the nature and existence of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, proofs for the existence of God, the problem of evil, a religious basis for ethics, the nature of faith, and the variety of religious beliefs.

(3H,3C) 4204: PHILOSOPHY OF MIND Current issues in the philosophy of mind such as relation of mind and body, status of the mental, knowledge of one’s own and other minds, personal identity, consciousness, mentality of animals and machines, topics in the philosophy of psychology.

(3H,3C) 4334: JURISPRUDENCE An examination of the nature of law and legal systems with attention to traditional theories of law and to such topics as judicial decision and discretion, law and morality, the justification of legal coercion.

(3H,3C) 4514: SPECIAL TOPICS IN LOGIC Topics that build upon a knowledge of classical deductive logic: extensions of classical logic, alternatives to classical logic, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of language.

Topics vary from year to year, but include the changing character of biology as a science, the special character of biological explanations and methods, and the place and value of reduction (e.g., of Mendelian to molecular genetics) in biology.