A Critique of Natural Law

2512 words 11 pages
A Critique of Natural Law

Essay #2
Barbara Palombo
256 Pinevalley Crescent
Woodbridge, Ontario
L4L 2W5
Email: palombo5152@rogers.com
Student #: 923621220

Phil 1002 6.0 Q
Class ID: 1227265
Team Instructor: Carol Bigwood

Natural Law is a concept that has caused ambiguity throughout the history of Western thought. There is a multitude of incompatible ideas of natural law that have caused even those who are in basic agreement on natural law theory to have opposing notions on the particulars. In spite of this confusion, there have been enough advocates among natural law thinking in Western society to make it possible to identify its major criticisms:
1. Natural law is immutable and is rooted in nature. This
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(Merriman, 2000, p.6) The curse of sin that has been bestowed on us has made it impossible for natural law to be the paradigm for the moral law. Because of sin, man's reason and conscience have been harmed, therefore, man's knowledge of right and wrong, justice and injustice is tainted. (Einwechter, p. 6) As a result of the fallen man, God administered His ten commandments in addition to reason and conscience to obey His will. The 17th century Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius believed that humans by nature are not only reasonable but social. Although his thinking adhered to the doctrines of St. Thomas Aquinas, Grotius argued that natural law is a part of divine law and is based on human nature, in which people are naturally inclined for peaceful association with others and to follow general conduct. (MSN Encarta, no date, p. 1) We see in the work of Grotius, a fundamental shift in the form of rationalism assumed by natural law from Aristotle to the modern scientific. He pointed out that even if there was no God, or if God was unreasonable or evil, natural law would still exist. This was because man relied on his reason and this rational element was shared by all mankind. Thus, reason and rationality governed all matters of humankind. A system of law could therefore be rationally generated and universally applicable. (course kit, 2005, p.82) Early in the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the English philosopher asserted that the

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