Natural Law, Human nature, duties to obey the law

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2 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    It seems to me that contemporary natural lawyers, and particularly John Finnis, spend an inordinate amount of time justifying the existence of a Duty to Obey the Law. Positivism is now more routinely identified with (and rightly) skepticism toward the existence of such a duty, and Natural law identified with the opposite: with the existence of a robust duty to obey the law.

    I think that fairness to Finnis requires noting that, on his account, it’s always a prima facie duty to obey the law, not one full-stop. I think he’s wrong on what this leads to in practice, and that his particular version leads to some potential problems, but that the general idea is a pretty reasonable one, when stripped of the non-necessary additions that Finnis includes. (An obligation may be both prima facie and robust, but usually only because of extra assumptions built in to the basic view. That’s what happens with Finnis, I think.) If I may self-promote for a minute, I tried to address this issue in a symposium on the work of Finnis (in relation to some very good comments by Michelle Dempsey) at villanova last year, that are available here:

  2. Heidi Li Feldman says:

    Robin, your final roundup of your reactions to our various contributions displays all the strengths of NJ Itself. With brevity and insightfulness, you highlight key issues and provoke new thought.