Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Natural law school


Natural law is based on human reasoning. Augustine defines it as ‘eternal law’ in the divine order or will of God which requires the preservation of natural order and forbids the breach of it. It is inherent in the nature of man and it enables the man to distinguish the good from evil and right from wrong. Here in this article we can see about the stages of development in the Natural law school. 

Natural law in Ancient Greece: 

The Natural law began in Greece about 2,500 years ago. There was Homer’s theory in the 8th century BC. It said that the divinity of justice was with the King and there should be unquestionable obedience by the people. This did not satisfy the thinkers. It was Haraculitus who was first tuned to law of Nature to find a ‘standard justice’. The Greek concept of Natural Law explained that man unlike animals, is endowed with reasoning power. 

Natural Law in Rome (Jus Gentium): 

The Roman Natural law was known as ‘Jus Gentium’. As the Civil Law of Rome applied only to Roman citizens, the Natural law namely Jus Gentium was applied to all Non-Romans. The Jus Gentium was a code of natural laws commonly observed by many Roman people. Slowly, the jus Gentium was also applied to make the Roman law less rigid. The Roman’s Jus Gentium could not be equated to Natural law, because Romans practised slavery which was against Natural law. 

Natural law during Medieval days: 

During this period, Rome lost its supremacy and the Christian churches began to assert their religious dominance over the State. They considered that the Law of God was superior to King made law and so the church interfered and override the State laws. Slowly, both the State and church invoked the Natural law to support their assertions over each other.

Natural law during Middle ages: 

  1. Thirteenth century

Towards the middle of 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas by his Scholastic theory of Law said that divine law is revealed in the inherent reasoning of man and is called the Natural law. So long as the main laws were for common good of the society, they were in conformity with the Divine law. 

  1. Sixteenth century: 

During the 16th century, with the discovery of new continents, commerce expanded and the commercial class of people wanted protection of their increasing property interests. They all appealed to Natural Law in justification of their claims. Thus Natural law was no longer a Divine law, but became the Law of reason with the intellectual outlook. 

  1. Seventeenth century: 

In 17th century, Hugo Grotius, the Father of International Law framed a system of International law based on the Natural law. According to him, ‘the law of nations is the law of Nature applied to international level’. In this connection, Sir Henry Maine observes ‘the greatest function of Natural law was discharged by giving birth to International law’. 

Natural Law in modern period: 

  1. 18th century: 

The Natural law was also used against political tyranny in 18th century. In the American war of Independence 1776 and the French Revolution 1789, the Natural law curtailed the unlimited power of the Government over people. This gave rise to the Natural law principle that social contract must be respected (pacta sunt servanda). 

  1. 19th century: 

In the 19th Century, the Natural law theory began to recede to the back ground due to the concepts of neutralism, scientific reasoning, sociological approach to human problems etc.

  1. 20th Century: 

With the dawn of the 20th century, the Natural law one again got revied, since the legislative laws brough in stagnation in the legal system. The ‘Nazi Statutory Laws’ in Germany during II World War failed to secure even the elementary justice to people and hence it was revolted by the people as violative of Natural law.  

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