Natural Law Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Natural Law, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Natural Law?

It refers to the law derived form the nature and which is unsaid or unwritten. Such laws still have a binding effect on the human and their deeds which comes under the ethics dealt with naturally. These are different from positive law which are written and governed by the government under specific rules and regulations.

History and Meaning of Natural Law

Natural Law is a concept that has been debated by scholars and philosophers for centuries. This theory suggests that the laws governing the universe are inherent in nature and can be discovered through human reason. The core principle of Natural Law is that certain rights and morals are inherent in human beings and their actions, regardless of the laws of a particular government or society.

The origins of Natural Law can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers like Plato and Aristotle theorized on the concepts of natural justice, moral virtue, and the existence of absolute truths. Later, the theory was developed further by Christian philosophers like St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, who saw Natural Law as a way to reconcile human reason with God’s divine plan.

Examples of Natural Law

  • The idea that all living beings have an inherent right to life, and that it is morally wrong to take that life without just cause, is an example of natural law.
  • The concept of certain human rights that exist inherently and should be protected regardless of the laws of any particular government or society is also an example of Natural Law.
  • The principle that actions that bring harm to oneself or others are inherently wrong is another example of concepts derived from Natural Law.

Legal Terms Similar to Natural Law

  • Positive Law: This refers to laws that are created by governments to regulate society.
  • Moral Law: Similar to Natural Law, this refers to the laws of morality that are inherent in human beings and are not necessarily governed by any particular laws or government.
  • Divine Law: This refers to the laws created by God or a religious deity, which sometimes overlap with Natural Law.