Puritan Board Graduate
Natural law theory offers numerous benefits as a source of ethical and legal norms. Father Joseph Koterski says that universality, objectivity, and intelligibility are three ideals for natural law theory.1 Universality means that it is applicable to all persons at all times, in contrast to positive law which is location and time relative. It also implies, especially when combined with the ideal of intelligibility, that the natural law is knowable by all and that therefore all are responsible for keeping the natural law. A person is exempt from this responsibility only if she or he is not able to understand the natural law. This is not true of positive law, in that a person may be capable of knowing the positive law but not in the right location or time period to have access to that law. Natural law is very appealing because of its universality: such a law would provide universal human rights and values that in turn would provide the foundation for interaction between cultures. It would also provide a standard for determining if a given positive law is just. Without natural law it seems that law would become the rule of the powerful, or the majority, or some similarly arbitrary system. There is much to be said in favor of the idea of a natural law that makes such a study profitable.