The Relation Between Positive and Natural Law in Aquinas*
This chapter explores the theory of Thomas Aquinas on the relationship between natural and positive law, which is still of great importance in the discussion. It shows how Aquinas' distinction between derivation and determination of positive from natural law resolves some of the conflicts between positive and natural law created by later scholastic distortions. The chapter aims to approach the topic from the side of positive law and thereby indirectly contribute to the rehabilitation of natural law theory. It proposes a framework which may be applied to some contemporary issues to test the implications of the Thomistic view of law. In modem western society, natural law theory will be applied largely indirectly, in the function of understanding, improving, and interpreting existing law. The positivist approach claims that there is a division, at a fundamental level, between personal morality and the force of civil law.