Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Natural Law

In a Facebook group I belong to, someone became frustrated at the desire of some to legislate morality.  With all the back and forth, I became frustrated at how we rip each other to shreds when we agree with each other 80% of the time.

As I thought about what common ground I could find, I thought of Natural Law.  I asked the group.

Do you all believe in natural law? A natural law is authoritative over all human beings. To reject it is to be evil.
Here is the shortest summary I could find about it. It details the other fundamentals of natural law.  Here is a video that describes it well.
The question, "What is natural law?" kept coming to my mind.  I like the way James A. Donald said it.
Natural law is a method, not a code. One does not reason from words but from facts. The nearest thing to a written code of natural law is the vast body of natural law precedent. But a precedent only applies to similar cases, and is thus rooted in the particular time and circumstances of the particular case, whereas natural law is universal, applying to all free men at all times and all places.
I also like how he disconnects it from questions about God.
“Ius Naturale” is the law applicable to men in a state of nature. It precedes religions and kings both in time and in authority. “Ius Naturale” does not derive directly from the will of God. As Hugo Grotius pointed out in the early seventeenth century, even if there was no God, or if God was unreasonable or evil, natural law would still have moral force, and men would still spontaneously back it with physical force.
For the purpose of government and public policy, I think that it is better to describe the higher authority we appeal to as Natural Law rather than God.  There is no need to polarize people who do not believe in God from those that do not.