Natural law exists independently of ordinary or «positive» laws – laws enacted by courts or governments. Historically, the philosophy of natural law has dealt with the timeless question of «good versus evil» in determining righteous human behavior. First mentioned in the Bible, the concept of natural law was later addressed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman philosopher Cicero. It has also been used to justify the introduction of positive law and thus governmental and legal claims. Overall, as philosophical theory develops, the coincidence of positive law and natural law will continue to be referenced, challenged, and analyzed. Thomas Aquinas` theory of 53 is based on the idea that if something is «natural,» that is, if it fulfills its function, it is morally acceptable, but there are a number of unanswered questions about naturalness. The term «natural law» is ambiguous. It refers to both one type of moral theory and one type of legal theory, but the fundamental claims of the two types of theory are logically independent. It does not refer to the laws of nature, the laws that science wants to describe.
According to the moral theory of natural law, the moral norms that govern human behavior are, in a sense, objectively derived from the nature of man and the nature of the world. Although logically independent of the legal theory of natural law, the two theories overlap. However, most of the article will focus on the legal theory of natural law. According to natural law theory, a positive law, if incompatible with natural law, is an unethical and unjust law that should be stripped of its legality. The structure of legal systems is often based on social concepts of natural law. Natural law principles can be used to resolve ethical dilemmas by affirming a set of basic legal rules that become natural rights and inalienable civil liberties. For example, the First Amendment to the Constitution in the United States Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, press, and peaceful protest as natural laws granted to all citizens. An ethical dilemma that natural law could resolve would be, for example, if a group of peaceful protesters were denied the right to demonstrate. In court, natural law, as enshrined in the constitution and grants the right to peaceful protest, could be used to challenge any charges that may have been brought against the peaceful group. Proponents of natural law suggest that the decision is moral if it favors human life or preserves one`s own life.
If the decision is directed against human life or the preservation of one`s own life, the decision is immoral. Laws also have a purpose: to create justice. From the point of view of natural law, a law that does not ensure justice (an unjust law) is considered «no law at all.» Therefore, a law that is imperfect is a law that no one should follow. In short, every law that is good is moral, and every moral law is good. Legal positivism is a theory of law that is the opposite of natural law theory. Legal scholars believe that a law can be deeply flawed and yet can be considered a law. But Thomas Aquinas is also a theorist of natural law. According to him, a human law (that is, what is proclaimed by men) is valid only to the extent that its content corresponds to the content of the natural law; As Thomas Aquinas says, «Human law has as much of the nature of law as natural law. But if it departs from the natural law in any respect, it is no longer a law, but a perversion of the law» (ST. I-II, Q.95, A.II). To paraphrase Augustine`s famous remark, an unjust law is really not a law at all.
In any case, conceptual analysis of law remains an important, albeit controversial, project in contemporary legal theory. Conceptual theories of law have traditionally been characterized in terms of their attitude toward the overlap thesis. Thus, conceptual legal theories have traditionally been divided into two main categories: those such as natural law theory, which claim that there is a conceptual relationship between law and morality, and those such as legal positivism, which deny such a relationship. The Hobby Lobby`s landmark decision was the first time the Supreme Court had recognized and upheld a for-profit company`s request for protection of natural rights based on religious belief. Natural law theory is not always a simple school of thought. It is not surprising that the ethics associated with natural law are just as complicated. The idea that the definition of what is «good» and what is «wrong» is the same for «every person» is sometimes difficult to apply to complex ethical dilemmas. Check. Natural law theory is a theory of law that recognizes a deep connection between law and morality. According to the theory of natural law, only just laws should be kept, while unjust laws can be ignored. Natural law theorists believe that wanting to live a good life is a basic principle of human nature, and therefore human laws should reflect this desire.