Natural Theory of Law: merits and demerits

Natural Theory of Law

Natural law is a broad and often misapplied term.

It goes around various schools of thought in different disciplines like Philosophy, Science, Law, etc.

In the light of this fact, it is therefore crucial that a clear understanding about the subject-matter be gotten.

This includes the understanding of the keywords, ‘natural’ and ‘law’. So, this post is on the Natural theory of Law.

Meaning of ‘Natural’ in Natural Law

The first word ‘natural’ (adj.) comes from the root word nature (noun).

We may define Nature as the innate characteristics of a thing, among other various definitions.

However, the definition of the second word, ‘law’, is a question that has agitated the minds of scholars and intellectuals over the years.

This is because the word is all-embracing in scope and dimension.

To read my blog post on the definitions and explanation of Law, click the link.

From my own view, which I submit and propose to be generally accepted, “a law is an expression, indicator or imposer of a consistent reality; proven or hypothetical, sanctioned or unsanctioned, true or mythical, harmonious or antagonistic.”

See also: Positive Theory of Law (Legal Positivism)

As you should have noticed, this is a wide view approach. Nevertheless, as regards this subject matter, Law is taken as “an expression and indicator of a reality, sanctioned and enforced by a person, persons, body or institution.

From the foregoing, natural law theory is a legal theory that recognises law and morality with deep connections, if not one and the same.

Morality relates to what is right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, permissible or impermissible.

NATURAL THEORY OF LAW: SIMPLIFIED MEANING

Natural law is a school of thought asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature.

Endorsed by nature, traditionally by God or a transcendent source.

And that we can explain this universally through human reason.

Simply, Natural Law theorists, unlike promulgators of positive law, believe that we define human laws by morality, and not by an authority figure.

Therefore, their human nature guide humans to figure out what their laws should be, and to act in conformity with those laws.

See also: Differences between Natural and Positive Theory of Law

Reduced to its simplest form, natural law means what is ‘fair’, ‘right’, or ‘just’. The protagonists of this theory of law include Zeno, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Grotius, and others.

They hold the primary view that there are certain objective principles in everyman, no matter his colour, race or tribe, that tells him what action or any form of act is right, fair and just.

These principles motivate him to do what is good and abstain from what is evil.

Words of Prof. Okuniga: Natural Theory of Law.

Professor Okuniga said in his own illustration. “If ten men from different countries are put in separate rooms, and each of them is asked in the language that he understands, whether it is good tom steal, majority will say no.”

In a nut shell, Natural law refers to the principles inherent to man, which tells him what is fair, good, impartial, right and just.

These principles should serve as the bases for the making of real life laws and orders. Any law made by anybody that is not in accordance to these intrinsic principles is not valid.

I once held_ “The discovery of the positive law is not a shift from the use of the natural law, rather, it is a designed, regular, and enforced reproduction of it.

The reason for positive law is merely to justify the application of natural law.

Hence, when we convict a man, we say to ourselves, “we have done justice,” apparently to satisfy our innate principles, natural law.

See also: Meaning of Prayer and summon in Law: & Motion

Natural law, since its emergence, has bred some major advantages above other schools of thought. Some of these advantages include:

Advantages of the Natural Theory of Law

  1. The development of the concept of equity, human rights, and democracy across the globe.
  2. It is based on reasoning, and not revelation – this allows making it possible for everyone to follow the principles.
  3. It is universal and absolutist; so it is always relevant.
  4. It allows for a clear cut approach to morality and establishes common rules.
  5. The Americans invoked it in their war of independence, as well as the French, during the French revolution.

Disadvantages of the Natural Law Theory

However, Natural Theory of Law has its own undeniable disadvantages, and some of these are heighted below:

  1. It is not always a simple school of thought. The determination of what is right and what is sometimes as hard as anything.
  2. Natural law philosophy stresses ‘what ought to be done’ and not necessarily ‘what is done.’
  3. The theory is based solely on right reasoning, which is a criterion that cannot be verified through empirical scrutiny.
  4. There is what we call ‘the multiple-conscience problem.’ That is to say, different individuals have different explanations for, and determinations of, what is right and what is wrong. As regards this problem, we call the Natural Theory of Law ‘a harlot.’

REFRENCES

1. Introduction to Nigerian Legal Method, edited by Abiola Sanni.

2. WEB: Study.com, Wikipedia, allaboutphilosophy.org

3. English dictionaries, Synonym Antonym Learner {app}

4. Wikipedia

Law: Definition, Meaning, Legal Meaning of Law

What is Law? Definition of Law

“A law is an expression, indicator, or imposer of a consistent reality.” I’ll get to explain this definition in a while. Still on Law definition and meaning. (This is a general definition from me, however)

Definitions are essential. Law definition and meaning is not an exception.

And before we begin any subject, we love to give a definition of the subject.

This allows us to have a clue about the subject, and its scope. So, before we talk about law, let’s define it.

This post is on the definition of law, meaning, and more. Yes, definitions of law and meaning.

Complications in Defining Law?

Like some other subjects, the term ‘Law‘ is somewhat hard to define.

This is so because the scope of the word is not even easily understood. People talk about Law from different angles.

We have scientific laws, laws in Economics, human laws, eternal laws, divine laws, natural laws etc.

The large scope of the word ‘law’ has made it difficulty, and nearly impossible to define.

So many people across many field have tried and failed to give an absolute definition to law.

In this post, I would share with you some of the given definitions. And then I’ll tell you about my own definition. Stay tuned.

It should be of no astonishing effect to realise that the question of the definition for law is not a fascinating one to a practicing lawyer.

That is, a practising lawyer cares less about the definition of law. Well, this is not surprising.

What a lawyer would care about is what the law says about the particular situation of his client.

And possibly, how best to twist the wheel of justice to his side of the balance.

Lawyers care about ‘what does the law say about this’ and not really ‘what is law’.

Law: Meaning_Explanation

But even as insignificant as it may look, the quest for a rigid definition for law as followed us into our present age.

Like I said supra, so many people have tried to give a good to law.

The issue behind this quest is really a jigsaw because the word ‘Law’ is as all-embracing as it can get.

The word ‘Law’ may be as a general and loose term. And in another instance, a technical and professional terminology.

There is a saying, ‘Where there is no law, there is no crime.” Law is the bedrock of any society.

Families have laws, communities have laws, people have personal laws. The nation has a constitution – the foundation of all its laws, in most cases.

Laws are all around us, everywhere in different forms. So, a definition a person or group gives is often limited by many factors.

Law Definition and Meaning

How then do we fix this? The element of law is as old as man. I think the existence of man himself is an effect of a law-cause.

How can humans explain adequately through their senses a term that is in itself the root of their senses?

How can we define our definition?

If terms like economics, religion, philosophy etc., are difficult to define, what more can we say of law?

What really comes to our mind when we hear the word ‘Law’?

Some rules and regulations given by an authority, according to which our actions and inactions are determined?

Perhaps, some other terms like law of gravitation, identity, cosines, diminishing returns, double negation, excluded middle and energy, etc.

Whatever it is that comes to our mind, we can also give a definition to law, true and direct.

Defining law is a jigsaw, but jigsaws can be solved.

Some definitions of law

Let us consider some of these definitions.

According to The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary -9th edition.

“Law is the whole system of rules that everyone in a country or society must obey.”

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary.

“Law is a binding custom or practice of a community. A rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.

The whole body of such customs, practices, or rules, and the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law.”

According to Herman Max Gluckman (1911-1975). Law is, “The whole reservoir of rules on which judges draw for their decisions.”

Prof. John W. Salmond (1862-1924), defines law as: “The body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice.”

Let me go a step further in defining Law.

Law is a body of official rules and regulations, generally found in constitutions, legislation, judicial opinions, and the like, that is used to govern a society and to control the behaviour of its members. (Microsoft Encarta Premium 2009)

Also, according to Abiola Sanni, in ‘Introduction to Nigerian Legal Method’.

Law is, “a rule or body of rules made by institutions, bodies, and persons vested with the power to make such rules which are binding and enforced among the members of a given state or society.”

Meaning and Definitions of Law

These definitions, as far I can guess, should serve goodly for institutional purposes.

But to satisfy philosophical tendencies (if possible), let me explain to you my own definition of law.

After my Lecturer talked of the complications in defining law, as well as the failures, I began to think. And to God’s glory, I came up with this definition.

Pay close attention to this definition of law. It is not of the regular approaches at all.

“Law is an expression, indicator, or imposer of a consistent reality.”

This could be proven or hypothetical, sanctioned or unsanctioned, true or mythical, harmonious or antagonistic. In whatever way, it is still a Law.

Here, the word reality is anything that may be perceived by human senses, or subject to rational deliberation.

Let me explain.

A law may state that anything thrown up, unsuspended in space, must come down.

This is a law because it is an expression of a consistent reality. If you throw something up now, it comes down. If you throw it tomorrow, it would still fall. So, the result/reality is consistent, therefore it is a Law.

More on ‘what is Law?’ Law Definition and Meaning

Another example of law as an expression of a consistent reality is this. “When there is increase in price, there is decrease in quantity demanded, and vice versa.”

This is the law of demand. Many other laws of like pattern can be used to explain this aspect of the definition.

The law that says, “He that is guilty of murder must also be killed,” is an imposer of a consistent reality.

The reality here is the death or punishment of the person that is guilty of such thing defined as murder.

If this law is followed, it is obeyed. It this law is not obeyed, it is abridged. In either way, it remains a law (perhaps, of the state.)

If the enactment ceases to command a consistent reality, then ‘it is’ no longer a law, but ‘it was’.

“Every metal affected by fire must turn hot.” This could be law, an expression of a consistent reality.

It seems one of the main attributes of a law is that it initiates a consistent reality.

Whenever this reality seizes to be consistent, then the law seizes to be a law. We may use the verb ‘was’ in such situations, as stated supra.

Most laws made by superior beings, superior bodies, or the state, are indicators and imposer of consistent realities.

I hope my definition is clear to you now.

Conclusion: Meaning and Definition of Law

There is no reason whatsoever to assert that this definition may not be defective in some sense and situations. I do not affirm that its 100% yet.

But until one of these situations is brought to my realisation and justified adequately with sufficient rational evidences, I guess this definition satisfies all propensities to be regarded as a reasonable all-embracing definition of LAW.

According to Professor Okuniga, nobody including the lawyer has given. Nobody including the lawyer is giving. And Nobody including the lawyer will ever be able to give a definition of law to end all definitions.

But we do rest our hopes on these word? For what lies behind and before us, are tiny matters to what lies within us. If you get my gist.

So, there you have the definitions and meaning of law.

I hope I’ve been able to help your research in someway, or increase your knowledge.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment.

References:

Wikipedia

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary

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