Natural Law has from time to time vary according to its purpose and the
function to be exercised to meet the needs of the time and circumstances.
Therefore, Natural Law has been evolution and development in several
phases. The definition and exact meaning of natural law are not unanimous. The
term Natural Law means in jurisprudence those rules and principles which should
originate from a supreme source other than any worldly or political authority.
Rule of Law and Natural Law
In England and India, the Rule of Law concepts are basically based on
Natural Law, but also on due process in the USA. The supporters of natural law
argue that the concept of justice, right or reason has been derived from the
nature of humanity and the law of the natural world. It is generally regarded
with invariant content as an ideal source of law.
Major Proponents of Natural Law
John Finnis (Born 1940)
The law he defines as mainly the rules that an effective authority makes
under regulatory legal regulations for the whole Community. Natural law does not
consider either human nature or metaphysics. The United States Supreme Court in
the Lawrence v. Texas raised the morality issue and the need for natural
legislation have been addressed in Texas. Finnis has attempted to re-establish
and modernly analyze and interpret natural law. He also has two major
misunderstandings about natural law theory. He denies that natural law comes
from objectiveness and a certain pattern of behavior but claims that the
knowledge within it of innate motivation is unknown to people. Natural law does
not pretend that if it contradicts moral law, a law is not law.
According to him 7 basic principles of human nature: Life, Knowledge, Play,
Aesthetic pleasure, Sociability, Practical reasonableness, Religion.
Lon Fuller (1902-1978)
He rejects the idea of natural law as an authoritative high- level body and that
mans behaviour should be taken into account. There can be no theory of natural
law that seeks to establish an everlasting code of nature in advance. He
suggests, instead, that for an old phenomenon a new name is suggested. He
suggests the term ‘Eunomics’ which he defines as “the theory or study of good
order and workable arrangement”. He warns Eunomics that no orthodoxy or doctrine
of binding ultimate ends should be tested.
Thomas Hobbes (1558 – 1679)
According to Hobbes, a man was in a chaotic state of constant fear before the
. Natural life
was solitary, poor,
disgusting, brutal and short
. In order to protect themselves and avoid
misery and pain, men voluntarily contracted and gave their freedom to some of
the most powerful authorities who could protect their lives and property. Hobbes
was, therefore, a supporter of the rulers the absolute power and the subjects
had no rights against the sovereign.
Although he suggests that the sovereign should be bound by natural law,
it is only a moral duty. It would, therefore, be apparent that Hobbes used the
theory of natural law to support the sovereigns absolute authority. He advocated
a declared order. During the British civil war, his theory was supported by the
monarch. It was, in fact, a stable and secure government. In Hobbes
theory, individualism, materialism, utilitarianism and absolutism are all
John Locke (1632 – 1704)
The state of nature was a golden age, according to Locke, only the property was
unsafe. Men entered into a social contract
for the purpose of
protecting property. Under this contract, man has not abandoned all his rights,
but only a part of them, namely to maintain order and enforce natures laws. It
retained its natural rights as the rights to life, freedom and property.
According to him, the integrity of the laws is primarily determined by the
process used to achieve their objectives. The morality that allows law requires
the fulfillment of 6 conditions: There must be general rules for guiding
actions. These rules must be publicly known, The rules should be prospective in
nature, which means that they should be future-oriented and not regressive.
They should be designed to be comprehensive and easy to understand, It should be
compatible with other rules, They should be reasonably stable, which should not
be altered too often, The objective of government and law is to uphold and
protect the rights of nature. As long as the government fulfils this objective,
the laws it gives are valid and binding, but when it stops doing so, its laws
are invalid and the government can be overthrown. Locke pleaded for limited
constitutional government. The doctrine of laissez-faire in the 19th century was
the result of the freedom of an individual in matters relating to economic
activities that were supported in Lockes theory. In contrast to Hobbes, who
supported the state authority, Locke advocated individual freedom.
Jean Rousseau (1712 – 1778)
Rousseau pointed out that the social contract
is not a historical fact,
as Hobbes and Locke envisaged, but is merely a hypothetical concept. Before the
so-called social contract,
life was happy and equality between men
existed. People united to preserve their rights to freedom and equality and to
this end they gave up their rights not to a single person, i.e. to the
sovereign, but to the community as a whole, whom Rousseau called general
It is therefore the duty of each person to obey the general will,
he directly obeys his own will. The states existence is for the protection of
liberty and equality. The State and its legislation are both subject to general
will and are discarded if government and law are not in compliance with
. Rousseau promoted the sovereignty of the people. His theory
of natural law is limited to the individuals freedom and equality. For
him the interchangeable terms are state, law, sovereignty, general will etc.