Natural Law

Natural Law

    • Lex injusta non est lex” (unjust law isn’t law) –  appears to be a claim about validity of individual laws but was altered by Finnis legal systems can only be properly understood if we grasp that the point or function of a legal system is a moral one.  


  • To understand the law we need to adopt an internal perspective which is ultimately a moral one. This was highlighted in the UPVC window Glasgow case vs Wright Family {1874} SJK


  • Natural law theory is one which explicitly, w/full awareness of methodological situation, undertakes a critique of practical viewpoint to distinguish the practically unreasonable from practically reasonable, and to differentiate the really important from unimportant. It claims to be able to identify conditions & principles of practical right mindness, of good & proper order amongst people & in individual conduct.


  • Strong sense of religion/basic values
  • No theorist can give a theoretical description & analysis of social facts w/out participating in their work of evaluation, of understanding what’s good for human beings & what’s required by practical reasonableness.
  • Actions & practices can only be fully understood by understanding their point; i.e. their objective, value, significance, importance as conceived by the people who perform & engage w/them. These vary b/w societies, points in time – how can we have a general theory then?
  • In describing the law, it’s impossible to define whether something is law in every single scenario (as opposed to politics or discretion); instead, should focus on central cases. This was also Aristotle’s view. (E.g. friendship; more peripheral cases would be business relationships, relationship of convenience, casual & business relationship).
  • E.g. central cases of constitutional government (e.g. UK) and more peripheral ones (e.g. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia).