Is natural law timeless?

Jonathan Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceProfessional


Natural law theories maintain that there are certain goods and principles that are uniquely conducive to human flourishing. Historically, the content of natural law has often been depicted as timeless and unchanging. This makes natural law seem like (in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes) a ‘brooding omnipresence in the sky’—a set of austere and unwavering rules imposed on humans from above.

In Natural Law and the Nature of Law, I take a different view. I argue that natural law, rather than simply being posited from above, is shaped over time by both our intrinsic natures and our external environments. Principles of natural law do not arise out of nowhere, but reflect the ongoing human quest to work out how best to live flourishing, fulfilling lives given the nature we have and the social worlds we inhabit.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019


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