Updated: Sep 25
Have you ever thought of if there is a higher norm above laws that our government has passed? What happens if our government passes an unjust law? Check out what previous legal scholars have said on the topic of natural rights! Feel free to comment on what you think.
Aquinas (1225-74) - what is reasonable?
distinguishes eternal law (God), divine law (scripture), natural law (by reason), human law
we have a continuing duty to seek good
lex iniusta non est lex - an unjust law is not a law (though modern scholars maintain that he did not make the claim)
justify revolution as it infringed on individual's rights
Grotius (1583-1645) - the basis of public international law, the secularization of natural law
De Jure Belli ac Pacis: even if God doesn't exist, there will still be international law
Hobbes (1588-1679) - Leviathan
without a social contract, we will be in chaos
everything comes out of selfish nature
four laws of nature:
people cannot murder each other
a public authority (sovereign) has the responsibility to regulate/punish violations
people should honor the order
Locke (1632-1704) - limited
before social contract, life was in paradise (however, no protection of property)
secede parts of natural rights in a social contract to sovereign
preserve natural rights to life: life, liberty, property, and enjoyment of private rights
prototype of limited government
Rousseau (1712-78) - man must 'be forced to be free'
'general will' can infringe upon those rights to protect the society
democratism and totalitarianism - dictatorship in the name of liberty and equality
Hume (1711-76) - questioning the logic behind natural rights
what ought to be could not be derived from what is
however, in the Nuremberg trial (real-world application), judges perceive natural rights as a benchmark for positive law. Latter flourishment of ECHR.
Lon Fuller (1902-78) - 'inner morality of law'
there's a difference between law "exists" and law being "effective"
eight 'desiderata' certifies of a ruler
possibility of compliance
congruence between declared rule and official action
doesn't prevent an evil regime
John Finnis (1940) - our determination of whether a law is 'good' is on the basis of us making assumptions
what leads to a desirable life? seven basic forms of human flourishing
'religion' (does not have to be organized religion, can just be a spiritual experience)
says that Aquinas meant that 'experiencing one nature' is possible with finding a common good
The information provided above is all credited to Raymond Wacks's Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction.
P.S. If you are really interested in exploring the world of jurisprudence (on 'What is law?"), make sure to check out his book!!