Saint Thomas Aquinas And The Command Theory Of Law

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In 1945 and 1946 the Nuremberg Trials took place in Germany, in order to relieve the damages that the Nazis have done during World War Two and the Holocaust. Judges from all over the world came together to rule over twenty two court hearings and ruled twelve of the Nazis guilty. The Nazis were sentenced to death. The rulings made by the judges can be supported in many ways by Saint Thomas Aquinas and John Austin. Saint Thomas Aquinas’ decision is backed by the theory of Natural Law and John Austin utilized the Command Theory of Law. According to Study Guide # 1, “the theory of Natural Law is, among other things, an attempt to bridge the gap between law and morality”, therefore, the Natural Law is going to prescribe laws that morally …show more content…

For example, if I was trapped in a zombie shelter with three of my friends and we only had enough supplies to survive for three people, it would be wrong to kill anyone of us even if one of us was wounded and about to die. The Natural Law forbids killing anyone even for the sake of survival, thus it is a major infraction if the Nazis are killing innocent people because the government said so. That is how Aquinas’ Natural Law proves the Nazis guilty. Alike, John Austin’s Command Theory of Law also proves the Nazis guilty for the murder of many innocent lives. The Nazi law to kill can be backed by many of Austin’s ideas, but is ultimately shut down because it does not pass one point on the checklist. Austin was a legal positivist and always looked at two questions “what is the law?” and “what ought the law to be?”. In his mind he would answer those questions by breaking down the law. First, Austin would ask is the law a command, if the law was not a command one would not have to obey the law. Austin would identify what type of command the law could fall under, the command could have been a particular command or a general command. The command would fall under general commands because the command was passed down through a sovereign. Next, Austin would identify is there really a sovereign and who is the sovereign. It is evident that Nazi Germany holds the role as the sovereign in our situation. Finally, Austin would need to see sanctions taken

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