Natural Law in Modern Period

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It has been rightly pointed by Dr Allen that the new natural law is believed to be value oriented, value loaded, and value conscious and that it is relativistic and not absolute, changeable and variable and not permanent and never-ending in character. It illustrates a revolution against the historical school’s determination on one side and the analytical school’s artificial finality on other side. The main exponents of the new revived natural law were: –

Kohler (1849 -1919)

Kohler defined the law as “the standard of conduct which, as a result of the interior impulse which pushes men towards a reasonable form of life, emanates from the whole and is imposed on the individual. He says there is no eternal law and the laws are created on its own as society progresses morally and culturally during evolution. He tried to free the natural law of the nineteenth century from the rigid and a priori approach and tried to make it relativistic, adapting to the changing norms of society.

Rodolf Stammler (1856-1938)

Stammler defined law as the species of the will. According to him, a just law is the highest expression of human social life having an objective of preserving the liberty of people. According to him, two fundamental principles that are essential for a just law are the principle of respect and the principle of community participation. In order to distinguish the new revised natural law from the old one, he named the first natural law with variable content. According to him, the law of nature means a just law that harmonizes the goals of society. Thus, a goal of the law is not to protect the will of one, but to unify the goals of all. An individual’s expectations are aligned with the society’s goal of peaceful continuity by adjusting the alternations of time and the necessities it develops.

Professor Rawls (1921-2002)

Professor Rawls made a very remarkable contribution to the revival of natural law in the 20th century. The two fundamental principles of justice propounded by him are as follows: –

  • social and economic inequalities should be arranged in such a manner that it ensures optimum gains to the community as a whole.
  • equal rights to meet generalized needs, including the power, opportunities, fundamental freedoms, and minimum livelihoods.