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What are the differences between natural law and positive law?

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gebaues | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 24, 2012 at 3:05 AM via web

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What are the differences between natural law and positive law?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 24, 2012 at 3:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Positive law is made by people.  Natural law comes from sources that are universal.  To many people (for example, to Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence) the source of natural law is God.  Natural law is universal; it applies to everyone.  Positive law only applies to those people who are the subjects or citizens of the government that creates the law.  Positive law must be written down.  Natural laws are unwritten laws.  In short, then, positive law must be made by a given government and it relies on the government for its power.  Natural law is not made by people and has moral power regardless of whether a government recognizes it and makes it into positive law.

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