The Theory Of Natural Law

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“Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all,” quoted the renowned Greek philosopher Aristotle , giving birth to the notions of natural law; the theory that without law we would be reduced to an anarchical society. Because of this, some would argue that the purpose of law would be to instill in the members of society a set of moral codes, which further illustrates the belief laws save us from ourselves, or more appropriately our “true selves”. Yet this theoretical principle leads to many criticisms and further questions; for one, what would dictate a universal moral code? Furthermore, who gets to define what is right and what is not, since morality is a fairly subjective concept? With these questions in mind, the goal of this paper is to critique the theory of natural law using Holmes rhetoric, analyze the distinction between pragmatism and natural law, and give my personal take on what “is” the law and what “ought to be” the law. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Supreme Court judge, critiques the natural law approach listing that the root of the theory is placed upon moral principle, which he argues has no constitutional basis. Instead, he believes that the only working approach to law that a judge or lawyer would take would be an analysis of similar past historical cases and with this analysis in mind forming a convincing and logical prediction of the future outcomes. Holmes wrote The Path of the Law,

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