Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Natural Law or No limits?

  1. #1
    LUSE Galant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Gibraltar
    Posts
    3,018
    Thanks
    431
    Thanked
    486 times in 293 posts

    Natural Law or No limits?

    Here's an extract from an article. It provides a summary of what the author argues are two opposed (by definition) positions - Natural Law vs. Liberalism. I found it an interesting breakdown with a lot of food for thought. I wanted to share it for a little bit of Hexus dissection.

    So here's the extract for your thoughts with a few questions afterwards:

    "Natural law in its Aristotelian-Thomistic form begins with a claim that man is by nature a political animal, that humans flourish under law that is according to nature. It argues for the existence of an ordered world with discernible laws governing human behavior that, when observed, lead to human flourishing, or the fulfillment of the human telos. It posits the existence of the good, and thus, a standard by which laws are crafted and a society is ordered. The “common good”—a phrase endemic in natural law thinking—is not simply an aggregate of preferences, but rather an objective condition in which the political and social spheres are ordered in accordance to the good. Individual (negative) liberty is not its main aim; instead, one is a truly free human insofar as the larger aim of the proper ordering of public and private spheres according to the good is achieved.

    Liberalism holds that men are by nature free and that politics is a man-made institution that limits our natural freedom. Human society arises through a contract among autonomous individuals in which its members retain certain rights. Government exists (to quote the Declaration) to secure those rights. Thus, there is no objective “good,” there is only “right,” and the proper arrangement of institutions and practices that secures rights and corresponding individual liberties.

    Law in this view is wholly positive, not a reflection of, or needing to be in conformity with, any external standard. As political society is not natural, but rather a utilitarian arrangement, there is no possibility of a common good, only the accumulation of individual preferences of members of the polity, the securing of which results in the advantage of all individuals—much as a growth economy, without assuming the existence of an objective common good, is assumed to benefit all of its members. In general, in liberal society, anything that increases the ability of individuals to achieve their individually defined ends is regarded as a desirable societal goal. Thus, there is a strong emphasis on increasing national and economic power, a basic desideratum of the founders.

    Under liberalism, liberty is widely regarded as the freedom to pursue one’s individual desires—short of compromising other people’s rights—though liberals disagree about whether and to what extent government should or must be a partner in assisting in that pursuit. In an extreme variant (much in evidence today), the government’s role needs to be extensive in making possible the varied pursuits of individuals. While this argument appears cloaked in the language of collectivism, its aim is government-sponsored and-supported pursuit of individual appetite."


    (Source - http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/12/7411/)

    I think generally people do like, and desire the truth of, the idea we can define ourselves entirely and yet clearly there are limits on the definitions we can make. We might not call them 'good' or 'bad' since those concepts are out of favour these days, but the fact remains that some things are just beyond us. For example, I might think it would be 'good' to be a human who can exist without needing to eat or breath but no matter my desire, the natural limit/definition exists that I am a biological entity dependent upon those functions and even more than that, an entity to flourishes when I follow an objectively good diet and get exercise. Again, I might desire to be like Superman and fly but naturally speaking that trait belongs to the birds, not humanity.

    On the other hand we see many examples where humans/humanity, driven by a desire to break all limits 'imposed' upon us and have total freedom to define ourselves, want to break down those natural limits/definitions. Cheating death is a classic - although I suppose one could argue that death isn't a natural life process but more a 'sickness' contrary to life that might be curable. Another one that comes to mind is wanting to break the natural limits/definitions of child birth so that men can do it and women could be free of it. Still one more that I know some would prefer to change is that humans 'do better' when in a 'green' environment, with trees and water and with exposure to sunshine, 'fresh air' etc. rather than the 'concrete jungle' locked up in darkness or with artificial light and even air or traffic fumes.

    Perhaps it can be summarised by saying that there are, naturally, some things which are good for us but we wish that we could be free of those impositions; that we could decide, each one of us, what is 'good' for ourselves. That being the case, to what extent might that pursuit be useful or when does it become pointless and even counter-productive or harmful? When should we fight, which fights should we choose, and/or when (and what) should we learn to accept and even enjoy the natural state, perhaps especially to get the most out of the natural life we 'find ourselves in (what a strange phrase that is!)? It has been said that it is the limiting banks of a river that allow it to flow and have strength rather than dissipate and or evaporate or stagnate - or should we just throw away any notions of what a river is, and let the water be whatever the water will be?

    Then the question follows, what role should the government play in defining those limits and encouraging (even enforcing?) the acceptance of them, especially if they can be truly discerned as being objectively good for everyone? Or can they be thus discerned? By whom? (There's no end of questions).

    So then - a few summary/starter questions -

    Do we live in "an ordered world with discernible laws governing human behavior that, when observed, lead to human flourishing?" If so, what are some of those laws/limits?

    What do you think of the idea that "one is a truly free human insofar as the larger aim of the proper ordering of public and private spheres according to the good is achieved?" Or instead how about the idea that "...anything that increases the ability of individuals to achieve their individually defined ends is regarded as a desirable societal goal?"

    How does the pursuit of individually defined goals balance with any existing natural definitions or laws about what is 'good'?

    "The government’s role needs to be extensive in making possible the varied pursuits of individuals... government-sponsored and-supported pursuit of individual appetite." Thoughts?


    TLDR: Perhaps it can be summarised by saying that there are, naturally, some things which are good for us but we wish that we could be free of any of those impositions; that we could decide, each one of us, what is 'good' for ourselves. That being the case, to what extent might that pursuit be useful or when does it become pointless and even counter-productive or harmful? When should we fight, which fights should we choose, and/or when (and what) should we learn to accept and even enjoy the natural state, perhaps especially to get the most out of the natural life we 'find ourselves in (what a strange phrase that is!)? It has been said that it is the limiting banks of a river that allow it to flow and have strength rather than dissipate and or evaporate or stagnate - or should we just throw away any notions of what a river is, and let the water be whatever the water will be?

    Then the question follows, what role should the government play in defining those limits and encouraging (even enforcing?) the acceptance of them, especially if they can be truly discerned as being objectively good for everyone? Or can they be thus discerned? By whom? (There's no end of questions).
    Last edited by Galant; 14-12-2012 at 02:12 PM.
    No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. However, many electrons were displaced and terribly inconvenienced.

  2. #2
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    2,129
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked
    189 times in 160 posts

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    Chance of anyone reading your entire post... 0.01%.

  3. #3
    LUSE Galant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Gibraltar
    Posts
    3,018
    Thanks
    431
    Thanked
    486 times in 293 posts

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    Thus the TLDR at the bottom. Maybe I should move it to the top?
    No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. However, many electrons were displaced and terribly inconvenienced.

  4. #4
    Gentoo Ricer
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Galway
    Posts
    11,041
    Thanks
    1,014
    Thanked
    944 times in 704 posts
    • aidanjt's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus Strix Z370-G
      • CPU:
      • Intel i7-8700K
      • Memory:
      • 2x8GB Corsiar LPX 3000C15
      • Storage:
      • 500GB Samsung 960 EVO
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
      • PSU:
      • EVGA G3 750W
      • Case:
      • Fractal Design Define C Mini
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • Asus MG279Q
      • Internet:
      • 240mbps Virgin Cable

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    A natural law is only natural when it's physically inviolable. Any physically violable law ceases to be considered as a natural law upon observed violation. While theologically/ideologically asserted 'natural law' is violated daily and often. Never refer to anything remotely social to be 'natural', because if it's social we can and do break it. Partially because asserted social 'laws' are often irrationally derived and fundamentally flawed, and partially because human behaviour is erratic due to the chemically altered nature of quantum cognition, and so make decisions which appear irrational to a dispassionate observer, which makes pinning down static, predictable, and inviolable laws a practical impossibility.

    So if you're looking for a 'natural' guide to societal governance, there is none what so ever. Natural and social are mutually exclusive branches of the sciences for good reason. All you have is your conscience, and a functional pipeline to hearing how the people feel you're treating them. If you ignore both/have neither they will overthrow you and your system of governance, and install something more suitable according to the inclinations of the time, whether it be anarchy, collectivism, democracy, monarchy, gerontocracy, theocracy, meritocracy, etc.. In the end, the system employed only matters as long as it serves the needs and will of the people. It's a lesson every tyrant has had to learn harshly throughout history. Since without popular support (irrespective of borders) aiding your efforts, you're destined to fail, and fail hard.

    As for matters such as water policy, whichever policy physically yields the most water we can use, most energy efficiently, with the least long term consequences is what we should go with. The same should be said for energy policy also. That's what we have the natural sciences for, to get answers for that, unfortunately politicians and businessmen are too busy personally and ideologically posturing to actually listen to any of the hard science. After all, you can ignore nature, but nature wont ignore you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    165
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked
    12 times in 12 posts

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    As I think aidanjt is saying, if you look at all the various countries and cultures around the world it's difficult to really pin much down which is truly universal (i.e. Natural) in how people conduct themselves. 'All men are created equal' could be an candidate for a Natural Law but if you say 'all men and women' you've got an immediate problem - and even the nation that made such a famous Declaration had a Civil War over just the 'men' bit! Even ignoring sexism or racism look at the Indian caste system for example.

    Perhaps Natural Law (if only at a national level) is most likely to become apparent through Liberalism - so the more free people are to make their own decisions the clearer it should become what is actually 'universally recognised'.

    However, by codifying something as Natural Law, it creates the issue of interpretation in that you're relying on one person or a group's interpretation of what everyone else wants (do they get it right, captured in sufficient detail, etc.). And as soon as you start saying 'this is what is best for the group' (i.e. I know better than you what is best for you) you are on a very slippery slope that democracies everyone (IMO) are sliding down not least by the ability of these systems to respond and adapt to changes in what is seen as 'normal' (e.g. patent law, copyright, 'fair use', etc.)

    Therefore, the less government is involved the freer people are to make their own individual decisions. I don't think many would argue it's not beneficial to have some framework (e.g. to legislate against and have a penal system for murder) but what constitutes murder (at least worth following up and prosecuting) is still a question from society to society so it becomes a question of how much government (and look at US vs UK vs France for example for how that differs between cultures). Certainly many in this country and many in the US (and a number of soon-to-be-very-high-rate-taxpayers in France!) would disagree strongly with the statement:

    "The government’s role needs to be extensive in making possible the varied pursuits of individuals... government-sponsored and-supported pursuit of individual appetite."

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked
    0 times in 0 posts

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    what are the limits of the law?
    Last edited by el-doctore23; 26-03-2013 at 01:32 AM.

  7. #7
    Hexus.Jet TeePee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Gallup, NM
    Posts
    5,014
    Thanks
    121
    Thanked
    631 times in 361 posts

    Re: Natural Law or No limits?

    Can I have a TL;DR for your TL;DR?

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •