Plato's Theory Of Natural Law

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Natural Law. The theory that there exists superior principles of that which is considered right and just, or higher laws to which the ordinary civil rules made by man must conform and which necessarily place limits on the operation of such rules, is one of the most persistent ideas in the evolution of legal thought. This evolution has, at times, had its appeal via perceived connections to religious beliefs and superstitions but in modern times has become an important weapon in political and legal ideology. There have been times when the import of higher law concepts has been discredited or their directive force in legal growth has been concealed by a different terminology. However it is argued that this notion of its revival and decline is…show more content…
Indeed in Plato’s ideal republic the state’ laws are replaced by the “philosopher king’s” law. These philosopher kings were to be trained and would do so through rationally perceived dictates of ultimate virtue. They would cease to be encumbered by the various legal forms but instead become characterised by wisdom and be accepted through its very excellence. The closest Plato nears to the concept of natural law theory is in the Republic whereby he analogises health, as the natural order of the body, and justice as the natural order of things within the state, and in his discussion of the formal idea of justice as “just by nature” and finally in Laws, in which the Athenian Stranger, discussing how one would establish a state in which laws have a greater power than the rulers, proposes to speak about divine law which would supply the need for a governing higher…show more content…
Kainz points out that the passages in Aristotle commonly used to indicate support of natural law, come from the Rhetoric
"Universal law is the law of nature. For there really is, as everyone to some extent divines, a natural justice and injustice that is binding on all men, even on those who have no association or covenant with each other"
These are embedded in a section giving advice to lawyers on how to argue cases. But though Aristotle may not be as clearly a natural lawyer as some have thought, he does bequeath three important ideas that get taken up by natural law later on. First Aristotle speaks at length concerning teleology and the notion that all natural objects have an end they are internally driven to fulfil and that to understand a thing we must understand the end toward which it aims. Second, in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle applies this principle to discover the end of human beings, arguing that humans, as natural, aim at some specific highest good for humans, which he defines as happiness—virtuous, rational, satisfactory activity (1097a15–1098a15). The teleology of natural objects and a complex virtuous happiness as the end of human beings will figure prominently in later natural law formulations, particularly those of Aquinas. Third, in the Politics, Aristotle argues that living in a political organization is entirely natural for humans. In fact, nature implants in us a social instinct and we can tell by the fact that humans are not individually
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