Friday, September 17, 2021

In the Application of Natural Law

 “The confusion of natural law and politics proper has produced evil, and not unfrequently disastrous consequences.  On the one hand, men have seen that, without establishing firm and absolute principles, all would be confusion and insecurity.  On the other hand, they have been so far misled by principles drawn from natural law, as to judge every political question by theory alone, disavowing experience, expedience, and a due regard to the elements which were given wherewith to work....”

“Again, men felt that the abstract principles of natural law were insufficient to guide them in many practical cases, and they fell into the error of rejecting it altogether, relying only on power as the foundation of all right, on mere expediency as the sole guide of political action.

“Analogous to the term abstract law for natural law, we might call this branch applied law, which would include both political, civil and penal law, in as far as it remains general.  The existing law is called positive.”

-Francis Lieber, Manual of Political Ethics

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