Hegel Essay Natural Law

" [6] It is true that Professor Bourke is primarily concerned with medieval versions of the theory of natural law and with the way in which so-called natural laws were held to be associated with the law of God.

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[4] Quite obviously, the doctrine is aimed at affirming that such things as human responsibilities and obligations, as well as human rights and "entitlements,"[5] are more than a mere affair of human convention or human agreement, and this no matter how enthusiastic or how widespread may be the acceptance of those conventions and agreements.

Thus whether it be Antigone in Sophocles' drama, Socrates in Plato's , or Shcharansky and Ginzburg of today's Soviet Union, the mere fact that a person has been convicted of a crime does not necessarily mean that hers or his was really a crime at all.

According to the one, natural law came to "name a code of moral precepts implanted in man's nature, or mind, and issuing from the legislative Will of God." From such a view, what is good or bad, right or wrong, for man clearly depends on divine fiat.

Accordingly, moral and political norms, so far from being in any proper sense "natural" or discoverable by reason in the very nature of things, would appear rather to be but so many "oughts" that are binding for no other reason than that God has decreed them to be so.

Then suddenly, in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was almost as if the bottom had dropped out, so far as natural law doctrines were concerned.

In academic circles, especially among philosophers and political scientists, no one talked about natural law or natural rights anymore; and if one did, one was promptly relegated to beyond the pale by scornful colleagues.

Or why does the football coach insist that a tackle be made in one way rather than another?

Is it just because he happens to like the one way rather than the other; or is it because there are reasons why one way of making the tackle is better than some other?

Still, it is one thing to say that in any natural law doctrine, ethical and political standards are objectively grounded, or that they literally have a status as laws of nature, and thus are knowable and rationally determinable.

It is yet another thing to understand just how such natural norms and standards may thus come to be known, to say nothing of how they can have an actual ontological status in reality.


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