Essays On Natural Law

Essays On Natural Law-38
Of course, in such a society laws against murder, rape, theft and other morally wrongful acts would be unnecessary, and punishment and other coercive features of real life legal systems would have no place since, , no one would willfully fail to abide by the laws just and authoritative stipulations.But the vast majority of laws by which peopleparticularly in complex modern societiesare governed in their daily lives as citizens would remain pertinent.

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Other positive laws, however, cannot be derived from the natural law in so direct and straightforward a fashion.

Where law is required to resolve a co-ordination problem, it is often the case that a variety of possible solutions, all having certain incommensurable advantages and disadvantages, are rationally available as options.

From the basic principle of natural law which identifies human health and safety as goods to be preserved, together with the empirical fact that unregulated driving, even among motorists of impeccable goodwill, places these human goods in jeopardy, it follows that scheme of regulation (co-ordination) is necessary for the common good.

Yet typically various reasonable, but incompatible, schemes are possible.

This is by no means to suggest that emotions are themselves inherently bad or ought somehow to be gotten rid of.

(Indeed, in the properly integrated personality emotions support morally upright choosing.) It is only to say that people can be emotionally motivated to do things that are contrary to the integral directiveness of human goodssometimes for the sake of genuine, albeit partial, human goods to which they are deeply committed or attached.

The first principles of practical reason and basic precepts of natural law, which direct choice and action to the goods of knowledge, friendship, and other more-than-merely instrumental reasons for action, far from being inferred from anthropological, historical, metaphysical, theological, or any other theoretical premises, are grasped in non-inferential acts of understanding whereby the practical intellectones single intelligence directed towards answering the question what is to be chosen and done grasps the intelligible point of a possible action in its promise to instantiate a human benefit, viz., something (e.g., knowledge, friendship) humanly fulfilling and, as such, worthwhile for its own sake.

Now, the fact that there are goods for human beings which, as such, provide reasons for action, does not entail that there are no bads; on the contrary, the privations of human goods (e.g., ignorance, muddleheadedness, misunderstanding, animosity) are bads that provide reasons (which may or may not in any particular case be conclusive) for people to avoid them, where possible.

At the same time, it is important to see that in Aquinass account of the matter, positive law would remain necessary even in a human society in which people could always be counted upon to do the morally right thing.

This is because any societyeven a society of saintsneeds law, and a system of law making, to provide authoritative stipulations for the coordination of actions for the sake of the common good.


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