THE NATURE IN NATURAL LAW, ABSTRACT
Donald R. McConnell
Donald R. McConnell
In the Tolkien classic and recent motion picture epic The Lord of the Rings there is a compelling portrayal of the struggle between good and evil as it is manifested between empires, cultures, peoples, and in the hearts of individuals. It is a portrayal that resonates deeply in the human heart. It reveals something of what we know at a deep level. One could say it speaks indirectly of the Natural Law. Why do we call Natural Law “Natural”? If Natural Law is natural because it comes from the nature of human beings, as Finnis, and many other contemporary Natural Law advocates appear to say, then why are there not different rules for different natures? No one partaking of the mythic struggle for Middle Earth would say that murder, torture and oppression of others are right for Sauron and the orcs because they flow from their nature. Indeed, if as Francis Fukuyama fears human nature can be changed, just as the dark powers turned captive elves into orcs in Tolkien ‘spast of legend, why would there not be some other morality flowing from that new nature. The Natural Law must have something to do with a more fixed and transcendent nature. Looking at the ancient stoics we can see that at the dawning of systematic thought about Natural Law they had an insight into why they called this objective law above human law “natural. ” When the stoic’s aberrant pantheism is sorted out, we can see that the real nature of Natural Law is God’s nature. An examination of the other historical views of what is meant by nature in regard to Natural Law discloses that all of the theories borrow one or more of the strands unifying view of Natural Law held by the stoics. No one of the views, except perhaps Augustine of Hippo, directly links the nature of God with the use of nature in the descriptive phrase “Natural Law.” But many of the historic views are not far from, or incompatible with focusing on God’s nature and primary. There are some disadvantages to the historic natures used in various theories. There are practical and Biblical reasons why it makes sense to re-adopt the view that the relevant nature of Natural Law is the nature of God himself. Academic Dean of Trinity Law School and assistant professor of Law.