What constitutes law and why do most people, today, unconsciously obey it? In this lecture, we will examine natural law theory with a view to understanding the relationship between law and morality.
Natural law theorists assert that humans possess an intuitive understanding of what is moral and what is immoral, what is right and what is wrong. From a natural law perspective, this understanding is embodied in a universal code of moral principles to which all humans must abide. Formal laws, the kind that you and I deal with everyday, are merely meant to formalize the moral principles we already recognize. If the law champions these morals, then it must be obeyed; if not, then it must be ignored.
But morality is subjective, meaning that people might disagree over what is right or wrong. Should marijuana be illegal? What about homosexuality? Prostitution? How do we determine which laws are moral and which are not? Which to obey and which to ignore?