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Natural law

Natural law

Natural law is a philosophical and legal concept that supports the existence of rights and laws intrinsic to human nature and the natural order of the world. These rights and laws do not depend on written laws or human institutions, but are instead universal, immutable, and understandable through reason.
– Characteristics of natural law
The characteristics of natural law are based on some key principles: universality, immutability, rational foundation and intrinsic morality.
Universality: The principles of natural law apply to all human beings, regardless of their culture, religion, or nationality.
Immutability: These principles do not change over time or with circumstances.
Rationale: Natural law is understandable through the use of human reason and does not require divine revelation or specific cultural traditions to be known.
Intrinsic Morality: The principles of natural law are morally right and represent what is intrinsically correct and good.
– Historical origins
The concept of natural law has ancient roots and can be traced in various philosophical traditions.
Ancient Greek Philosophy: Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle discussed ideas that can be considered as precursors to natural law. Aristotle, for example, spoke of a “natural law” as part of his ethics and politics.
Stoicism: The Stoics, a school of Hellenistic philosophy, held that there is a rational order in the universe and that humans can understand this order through reason.
Roman Law: Roman jurists developed the concept of natural jus, distinguishing it from civil jus (the law of individual cities or states) and from jus gentium (the law of nations).
– Medieval and Modern Developments
During the Middle Ages, natural law was integrated into Christian philosophy. St. Thomas Aquinas was a key exponent, arguing that natural law is part of divine law and can be known through reason and revelation.
In the modern period, natural law has profoundly influenced political and legal thought. Philosophers such as John Locke, Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau used the concept of natural law to develop theories of government and society based on fundamental, inalienable rights.
– Contemporary Influence
Today, the concept of natural law continues to influence legal and political thinking, albeit with different interpretations. Some see it as a basis for universal human rights, while others criticize its rigid application, emphasizing the importance of cultural and historical context.
– Criticisms
The main criticisms of natural law include related to Cultural Relativism, Indeterminacy, Distrust in Reason.
Cultural Relativism: Opponents argue that natural law principles cannot be truly universal, since notions of justice and morality vary significantly between different cultures.
Vagueness: Some philosophers and jurists criticize natural law for its vagueness and the difficulty of applying it in a concrete and practical way in written laws.
Distrust in Reason: With the emergence of philosophies that question the ability of human reason to understand universal truths, such as postmodernism, natural law has lost some of its hold on some segments of contemporary thought.
In summary, natural law is a complex and fascinating concept that has played a fundamental role in the history of legal and philosophical thought, and continues to be relevant in the debate on universal rights and laws.
However, the acquisition of an ever greater knowledge of the reality in which we are immersed and of which we are made, is bringing together the principles of civil law (i.e. the one applied in the individual territorial realities of the world) with natural law.

Guido Bissanti

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