Natural Law is true foundation for all laws, because humans everywhere seem to share similar ideas about ethics and right or wrong. For example, no society anywhere celebrates murder or theft among...

Natural Law is true foundation for all laws, because humans everywhere seem to share similar ideas about ethics and right or wrong. For example, no society anywhere celebrates murder or theft among its members.


Natural Law is the ultimate lie created by those in power. Leaders and lawmakers would like you to think that they have the support of God and/or nature for the rules that they make.

Which of the statements above is closer to your legal philosophy? Tell us what you think and what has formed your views.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there is truth in both of these statements.  However, the first of the two statements is closer to my beliefs than the second.

I do believe that the people who are in charge of societies often try to appeal to higher authorities such as God as a way of justifying their actions.  We can see this quite clearly in our history.  For example, we can see that kings justified their actions by invoking the idea that God had chosen them to rule.  As another example, we know that slaveowners in the American South argued that God had ordained that whites are superior to blacks and that slavery was justified on those grounds.  Of course, we can also argue that leaders do the same today.  America’s leaders tend to act on the idea that all countries should become democratic.  We can argue that they do this because they believe that democracy is naturally superior to all other forms of government.

Even so, I think the first statement is closer to my view of laws in general.  I do believe that human beings have some common ideas about right and wrong.  As you mention in your question, no society that I know of condones cold-blooded murder of a person who has done nothing to deserve death.  No one condones taking property by force.  No one condones unprovoked assaults.  We have a general idea that people should not have live in a society where they are liable to be killed or enslaved at any moment.  This is not, I think, an idea that is specific to Western culture.

Why do I think this?  It may be because I am the product of Western culture.  However, I did grow up in a place that, while affected by Western culture, is not Western.  People there clearly had the concept that one should not steal from people or attack and kill them.  I cannot imagine a society that would say that such actions are ethical.

All in all, I agree that rulers have often used the idea of natural law as a pretext for their own selfish actions.  However, I think that the idea of law comes from a basic human desire to be protected from physical harm and from the loss of one’s property and freedom.

CaitlynnReeves | Student

Since this is an opnion based question, I am going to fuse the two options to form my own opinion. 

Natural law is a lie. The only sentiment truly present across all societies and times is that of self interest. If you can count on anything you can count on the fact that people will do what serves them best. 

However, as a society we have created laws that put boundaries on the self interests of individuals so as not to impose on the ability of another to fufil their intrests. 

Man made laws are the necesary counter-balance to natural law. 

rachellopez | Student

I kind of agree with both statements. People do have similar morals when it comes to crime and murder; obviously you wouldn't celebrate it. However, politicians and leaders do use God as a support for their campaigns to gain more support.

When people hear about murders, shootings, theft, etc. they all look down upon it. We all know it isn't right, but the criminals who commit crimes do not feel that way. The morals of criminals are different and they will view things differently than the average person. There are a lot of criminals out there and you could say there are a large number of people who do not have the same morals. Even some people who are not criminals may have different morals than others depending on the way they were raised, their religion, or just the way they may think.

The second statement I also agree with. Leaders will use natural laws as a way to gain support and sometimes that may just be an act. I'm not saying it always is, but not everything is how we think it is. Really I agree with both and you could definitely argue for or against either side.