Natural Law Theories

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Abstract

This article considers natural law perspectives on the nature of law. Natural law theories are united by what Mark Murphy calls the natural law thesis: law is necessarily a rational standard for conduct. The natural law position comes in strong and weak versions: the strong view holds that a rational defect in a norm renders it legally invalid, while the weak view holds that a rational defect in a legal norm renders it legally defective. The article explores the motivations for the natural law position, before considering three lines of natural law argument found in the literature. I conclude by examining the arguments offered by John Finnis and Murphy in support of the weak natural law view. I suggest that these arguments fail to impugn the strong natural law thesis. Indeed, the functional argument outlined by Murphy provides a plausible route to a hybrid natural law view that incorporates both weak and strong claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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Crowe, Jonathan. / Natural Law Theories. In: Philosophy Compass. 2016 ; Vol. 11, No. 2. pp. 91-101.
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Natural Law Theories. / Crowe, Jonathan.

In: Philosophy Compass, Vol. 11, No. 2, 01.02.2016, p. 91-101.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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