What is meant by natural law ethics? Why should they be any different from commonly accepted ethical principles?
Central to those questions, who or what determines ethical principles, furthermore, should those principles be legislated? Let’s begin with nature.
“The state of nature has laws of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law teaches all of mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” —John Locke (1690)
Three hundred and twenty-seven years later, humanity has yet to grasp the profundity of what Locke wrote in one sentence.
Nature has law to govern it
We are all equal by nature, uniquely independent in being. Locke spoke of a law of nature as one singularity, namely that ‘no one ought to harm another.’ Locke’s statement is today referred to as the ‘Non-aggression Principle.’ (NAP) Often touted, it stands irrefutably correct, but does it go far enough?
No, I submit. The NAP is only a summary, hence does not teach any ethical foundations, nor their source. Natural law ethics are absent. My book, ‘Law from Within’ describes natural laws that Creator has modeled into the very fabric of our physical, mental and emotional processes. These laws, inherent in the law that Locke spoke of, will teach all of mankind who consult them. We may choose or refuse, of our free will.
Principle or the Foundations of Ethics?
The word ‘law’ inevitably conjures the idea of commandments backed by force. That is ‘aggression’ surely, the very opposite of natural law. How is it possible to enforce a law that forbids aggression? Natural laws are to be respected, not obeyed. Law is ‘order‘ or orderliness, not commands. To conclude that ‘no aggression’ is indeed a ‘commandment’ from Creator is to refute or misunderstand Creator’s endowment of free will.
Orderliness as Law
Creator has modeled ‘orderliness’ into the very fabric of Mans physical, mental and emotional processes. Witness orderly, co-operative functioning of heart and lungs. These laws testify order and patterns of order within our body and mental faculties, all necessary to uphold our life.
Look further as Law From Within’ describes. Investigation reveals natural laws of right reason, efficacy, sequence, integrity, allowance, commitment, responsibility, and more. Examine these laws or consult them as Locke puts it, and their immediate connection to life and maintenance of our lives is inescapable.
Natural law Ethics
‘Law from Within’ describes ’ life-values,’ which include primary virtues. These, together with natural laws encrypted within our nature, present a Code of Ethics, (natural law ethics). A morality of justice supportive of each human’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual life, logically develops from this.
Some may ask whether this ethical code is science, or just a rehash of what church, governments, psychologists, and grandparents have browbeaten us for millennia. That’s easy to answer. Is life science? Equally, as we cannot escape our nature, so we cannot escape the laws of our nature which found ethical and moral behaviour. Neither can we avoid the natural ‘Law of Just Consequence,’ (reap what we sow), which reprimands ethical and moral lack.
Natural law ethics – Natural law morality
A distinction is necessary. No one can harm another by their thoughts; only by their actions. Consequently, the subject of ‘ethics’ concerns thinking, also the contemplation of actions and possible outcomes. Natural law ethics exist for our guidance. We respect them, or chose to disrespect them and face those consequences.
Morality follows. Its concern is action(s), performing an action and consequences that arise. Said differently, ethical thinking precedes moral action, whereby morality manifests one’s ethics. Unethical thinking produces unjust, immoral actions. Lack of thinking results in _ _?
Natural law ethics manifest publicly as one’s moral stature, conducive to one’s own life, and others, whether for good or evil. Moral actions may summarise as the non-aggression principle, but there is still more. It includes what we might call ‘practice of living justice.’ We choose to be ‘just’ unto ourselves, out of self-respect, and all others reciprocally. Equally we choose to be unjust. Justice is restoration of the natural order, restoration of natural law.
From this healthy, integrated perspective, as described in ‘Law from Within,’ chosen life-values, being those that trigger conscience and emotions, are inseparable from our expressed morality. That sequential orderliness is as it properly should be. Natural laws cannot command. That would violate free will. Rather, Creator has invited us all to live with integrity and respect, from which justness follows.
So, on a broad scale, a just, convivial and peaceful society founded on Creator’s natural laws is in our hands completely.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” —R. Buckminster Fuller
Denial, violation, or cancellation of free will is ‘aggression’ itself. Assault, initiated by one against another serves nothing but evil.
We each, have a code of ethics encrypted in our nature, aka as natural laws. Consult them, learn and practice them consistently, and moral justness is determined. Multiply Creator’s endowments wide-scale, and a moral, just society is equally sure. All else is redundant.
We can make a free, moral and just society. It’s twenty natural laws are within, for each of us to manifest according to our choosing.
Back to Blog Index