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Natural law is defined as a body of laws that is derived from nature and binds upon human action in conjunction with other laws established by the human authority. This essay examines about natural law theory beliefs that people are governed by laws of nature which are believed to be valid everywhere in the world. We will also examine the strengths and weaknesses of natural law.

Natural law theory

It entails the use of reason to analyze the human nature and give the specific binding rules of moral behaviors. It is always an opposition to the man made or the legislated (positive) laws of any existing political society hence can be used to gauge the positive laws. The natural law is considered as a conduct principle which is accessible to all people in the world. Usually, the natural law is used as very significant tool of justifying or supporting the cultural intolerance, religious intolerance and other acts which are regarded as vices in the society. The vices include racism, sexism and grouping of people into different political economic and social classes. The natural law theory has greatly made influence on the laws and governments of some nations such as England and the United States ( Passerin A. 68).


The history of natural law theory is traced back to ancient Greece where some philosophers discussed and arranged the concept of natural law which actually played crucial role in the government of Greece. Sometimes latter, philosophers like St. Thomas, Thomas Hobbes and Locke john made the improvements to the Greek work and they used it to reform the positive laws, claiming that the positive laws were unjust.

Tenets of natural law theory

The two main tenets of natural law include the tenet of equality and tenet of desire to do well. Since the natural law is universal, it is interpreted in same way by citizens. It cannot be made by anybody but realized by citizens in through nature. Through this, equality is enhanced.  For example the people who share religious faith in the world seem to be under one universal natural law (Goyette J. pg.415)

Concerning the desire to do well, the natural law makes those under its influence to propagate only vices or good morals and also to avoid bad practices in the society. For instance, the natural law rape, homosexual, murder, stealing, gay marriage and other practices which are against the law of nature are not supposed to exist in any society that is under the influence of natural law. For example, the Bibles' Ten Commandments which are regarded as natural laws do not allow believers to be involved in any bad moral. These tenets ties to the topic of human right in the sense that they ensure that the fundamental human rights  such as right to equality, right to life and other are guaranteed by the natural law.

Strengths and weaknesses of natural law

There are some strengths that are associated with the natural law due to its absolutist view of morality. It enables people to develop common rules through which they structure their communities. This is an attractive choice especially in a society that endures a relativist era that suffers from a break down in traditional social structures and the moral uncertainty.

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Secondly, the Aquinas's view of reason as an avenue for the moral understanding and his idea of a universal nature and morality for all the people give universality to the natural law. This universality goes far much beyond any given religion or culture. This is for instance a as a very significant aspect considering the inter-cultural struggle and discord that exists between different cultures and societies which keep and support identical basic principles such as life conservation.

Thirdly, the law provides the societies with ways of living by giving better solutions to daily queries of how to live and also connects them to the basic life principles. It gives a complete moral living system in step with what is considered to be human.

On the other hand, the natural law has some weaknesses. For instance, some people like Neilson questioned the existence of a universal natural law that is readily visible and self-evident. In his article 'An examination of the Thomistic theory of natural moral law', he made an argument that human nature is not self-evident according to Aquinas' propositions. He cited some anthropological studies. An example is the Scandinavians who murdered their relatives who were old in order to allow them into Valhalla, making claims that these conflicting moral qualities directs very serious doubt over the concept of common natural law within all the human societies. Further, Nielson claims that through Natural law, the basic moral differences existing between human societies are not clearly expressed or understood (Austin M. pg.54).

Another weakness is the possibility that the natural law does exist, but in a very complicated form than Aquinas believed. For example, Aquinas thought that some acts such as homosexual are not natural. This is because homosexual does not lead to the pro-creation, but perhaps it is a way through which those involved get love and purpose in life through expression of their sexuality. This shows that what is called natural is relative and differs depending on the circumstances.

Finally Peter Vardy and Paul Grosch give a challenge to natural law.  In their book The Puzzle of Ethics, they pose a challenge to Aquinas' works from general principles to lesser purposes. Aquinas says that the species of human beings must be preserved and therefore every single semen discharge from a human being should be associated with the generation of new life. He maintained that using the genitals in other different ways is immoral. However, some people justify sexual acts to further their couple's relationship. Therefore, it is not obvious that every semen discharge is associated with start of new life. This shows that Aquinas was wrong in his deductions hence challenges the natural law theory.

Natural law and religion

The natural law always gives one the natural rights which are an endowment from nature or the creator depending on his/her religious point of view. Even the atheists accept the natural law because the laws of nature are scientific objectives subject that people gives credit to independence of their Creators. Therefore, religion is nearly universal for all creatures in the entire word and throughout the history. For this critical reason it cannot be separated from the natural law. It provides shared shorthand for better understanding of ethical problems. Without this universal understanding, the moral landscape would not be any good. For example, the natural law seems to derive its foundation from the Ten Commandments which are written in the Old Testament. These commandments forbid acts such as stealing, killing, fornication and many others which are considered wrong with respect to the natural law. Therefore natural law cannot work without religion (Austin M. pg. 96).

Natural law in United States

The United States of America is pluralistic and experiences greater separation between church and state. Because of this, the citizens have the freedom of choice. For instance, some have chosen to be involved in some practices such as homosexual, racism and gay marriages. Also, the termination of other people's lives by the government (Sadam Hussein was hanged by the US government).  All this practices which are against the natural law seems to be legalized in the United States. Considering this, the natural law cannot work in the United States of America.

By critically analyzing the issue of natural law, I support the use of the natural law because I believe that it is majorly inspired by God and therefore it should supersede all the man made (positive) laws. The law has special methods of dealing with all the matters arising in the word. For example, they promote the moral elements which are a very significant aspect in any society in the world.   It lies in the capacity of protecting and preserving the rights of all the citizens, particularly the unhampered life enjoyment. It is a desirable for all the people in the civilized society to enjoy the full benefits of freedom where they are fully entitled to safety of their own lives. People are supposed to have choice in owning properties and enjoy the outcomes of their works. For all these to be experienced, the natural rights should be maintained which are derived from the natural law. When the natural law is opposed by some people, the conflicts arise which sometimes results to state of wars in the society.    This state of war interferes with the natural rights and the result is threatening some people's life, freedom and property.  During this kind of situations, punishments are posed against the offenders which are based on natural laws.

Finally, most of the man made (positive) laws is obtained from the natural law. For example the states have laws concerning human killing. This is to the content of the Ten Commandments in the holy Bible. The commandments are an example of their natural law which was developed through God's inspiration. Therefore the natural law should by their societies on daily basis as they are based on morals.

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