Natural Law Theory: with a focus on the views of Cicero and Locke.

Essay by MasterChiefCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 2006

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The term 'natural law' is ambiguous in meaning, but it can essentially be defined as the principles of human conduct. Natural law derives from the nature of man and the world, just as physical law derives from the nature of space, time, and matter. According to natural law ethical theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings. The idea of a natural right order to which all things, including human beings, should conform is one of the most ancient and universal notions. It has been a major principle in religious and philosophic systems since the classical era to modern day where it was endorsed by great theorists such as Marcus Tullius Cicero and John Locke.

According to philosophers such as Cicero, this theory of natural law is applicable to all things human and non-human. Atoms, weather, plants, etc.

all abide by nature's rules. Man, however, neglects to obey these laws, as if we were given immunity through some sort of intrinsic authority. We find the doctrine of the natural moral law mostly in western society. It is the source of moral standards, the basis of moral judgments, and the measure of justice in the man-made laws of the state. If the law of the state runs counter to the precepts of the natural law, it should be considered unjust. The first principle of natural law is to sustain the general goodness found in nature, as well as respecting the natural rights of all living things, especially your fellow man. However, what is regarded as promoting the general goodness and what is contrary varies from region to region, culture to culture, religion to religion and so on. Because morality is so objective, a concrete set of rules is not...