Natural Law And Legal Positivism

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The contrast between Natural Law and Legal Positivism is a necessary starting point for those who wish to understand the relationship between law and morality, and the most varied manners in which it influences society to this day. When it comes to analyzing which theory offers the most well-rounded idea of law, one can argue that Legal Positivism provides the best definition of what law is at its essence. However, because Legal Positivism came to exist as a critique to what was proposed by Natural Law theorists, it is significant that both are explored in depth as means to support such argument.
Natural law theory is based on human nature and its predisposition to do good. The determination of what’s good and evil, however, is often drawn
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In fact, it argues that at times, it is possible that for the law to be immoral.
The biggest difference between the writings of Austin and Hart might be that the former while setting the framework for a plausible theory, fails to elaborate on its most basic premises. Hart expanded on legal positivism by enhancing the theory suggested by Austin and making it more credible, all while debunking natural law theory. One example is the manner in which Austin argues that the concept of law is subject to the command of a higher authority backed by threats. Although this is a way in which law can be presented, it is also a simplistic definition. Hart argues that although Austin’s definition of the law might be applicable to criminal law, it fails to justify other variants of legal process such as contracts or marriage licenses. He argues that “Such laws do not impose duties or obli­gations. Instead, they provide individuals with facilities for realizing their wishes, by conferring legal powers upon them to create, by certain specified procedures and subject to certain (p. 27)” It is difficult to associate laws such as the ones concerning marriage to the idea of a command backed by threat. The differentiation between laws that grant liberties when compared to those that might take them away is something that is not taken into account by Austin or explored in depth by natural law theorists such as Aquinas.
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