John Finnis's Natural Law Theory

788 Words4 Pages
Every society that has law also has people who perform the role of a judge. They are officials who settle disputes by applying pre-existing standards and exercising judicial discretion when needed. Judges have a moral as well as a legal obligation to apply the law. A judge who believed in the truth of John Finnis’s natural law theory could not legitimately and consistently decide cases by applying Ronald Dworkin’s interpretive theory of law.

Finnis provides a set of seven equally valuable basic goods: life; knowledge; play; friendship; aesthetical experience; religion and practical reasonableness. These basic goods are not illogically inferred from nature. They are self-evident, as they have grasped their fundamental goodness by intelligent reflection. Finnis is trying to provide an account of where Natural Law comes from. He is defending a strong view of moral objectivity.
Finnis broadly endorses Lon Fuller’s eight requirements of ‘the inner morality of law’ through his conceptualisation of the ‘rule of law’. Laws should be prospective and not retroactive; possible to comply with; promulgated; clear; coherent; stable enough that people can use the law as a guide; the making of new laws should be guided effectively within the
…show more content…
The law is a remedy against the two social evils of anarchy and tyranny. A governmental system governed by a ‘rule of men’ is a system where man directs the course of the country. A ‘rule of law’ system is quite the opposite. The country is governed by the constitution, which sets out the terms for governing. All laws that are promulgated must be measured up against the constitution. According to Finnis, we must understand human ideas and institutions in terms of their value and purpose, which necessarily requires evaluation and normative judgment. Therefore, we must evaluate the constitution first, before we measure laws against
Open Document