chapter  3
NATURAL LAW
Pages 28

Natural law, which is the subject of the questions in this chapter, is an enduring concept in jurisprudence, ranging from Aristotle, who held that there is a natural law which ‘everywhere possesses the same authority and is no mere matter of opinion’, through Cicero, who taught that ‘Nature herself has placed in our ears a power of judging’, and Aquinas for whom the natural law was ‘the participation of the eternal law in the rational creature’, to today’s natural lawyers such as John Finnis who view law from the perspective of its ultimate moral function which is taken to be the ability of law to co-ordinate human activity for the common good. Natural law is often contrasted with the ‘positive law’, namely, the legal rules promulgated in formal fashion by the state and enforced through defined sanctions. A problem for students is to decide which ‘type’ of natural law is being referred to, since the term has been used in so many different senses. It is essential, therefore, to check the precise historical and juristic context of the term, particularly when answering questions on this topic.