John Mitchell Finnis: Natural Law And Human Rights

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INTRODUCTION

John Mitchell Finnis is an Australian legal scholar and philosopher specialized in philosophy of law. He was the professor of law at University College, Oxford. John Finnis has written Natural Law and Natural Rights in 1980, basically a restatement of Natural law theory. John Finnis’ work is an explication and application of Aquinas’ view, an application to ethical question, but with special attention to the problems of social theory in general.
Primary question in the legal theory of the Finnis was divided into ethical questions and meta-ethical questions. The ethical question is “How should one live?”, and the meta-ethical question is “How can we discover the answer to ethical questions?” Finnis’ response to these basic questions
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His common good oriented approach sees maintenance of human rights as a fundamental component of the common good. In his scheme most human rights are subject to or limited by each other and by other aspects of the common good. Though these aspects, he says, can probably be subsumed under a very broad conception of human rights, they are fittingly indicated by expressions such as public morality, public health, public order. While modern theories of human rights are constructed around the paramount value of human dignity and ignores or overlooks the concept of 'duty', Finnis's theory of human rights recognizes the centrality of duties in explaining the basis of such rights. This is more evident in his discussion of 'exception less human claim-rights'. He said, “It is unreasonable to choose directly against any basic value, whether in oneself or one’s fellow human…show more content…
His restatement of classical natural law and his own new theory of natural law not only remove doubts, raised and insinuations spread by positivists about natural law in a forceful and convincing manner but also challenge the so called objectivity in positivism and exposes its inadequacies in capturing all aspects of law. He neither rejects nor asks for the abolition of existing schools of jurisprudence but instead seeks to correct the historical imbalance that existed in conventional jurisprudence from the middle of the 19th century to the later part of the 20th century. According to Finnis taken together his nine ‘basic requirements of practical reasonableness’, and seven ‘basic goods’ constitute the universal and immutable ‘principles natural law’. Together, they are clear enough to prevent most forms of injustice. It is these basic goods and methodological requirements that give rise to several exceptions-less obligations with correlative exception-less natural (human) rights. For Finnis justice means common good. In his conception of justice both distributive and corrective justice are to be seen as two aspects of the same thing i.e. fostering of common good in a society. This in effect requires the participation of all individuals in the basic goods/basic values according to a coherent life plan and in conformity with other

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