Key Difference – Natural Law vs Legal Positivism
Natural law and legal positivism are two schools of thought that have opposing views on the connection between law and morals. Natural law holds the view that law should reflect moral reasoning and should be based on moral order, whereas legal positivism holds that there is no connection between law and moral order. These contradictory views regarding law and morals are the key difference between natural law and legal positivism.
What is Natural Law?
Natural laws derive their validity from moral order and reason, and are based on what is believed to serve the best interests of the common good. It is also important to note that the moral standards that govern human behavior are derived to some extent from the inherent nature of the human beings and the nature of the world. In the perspective of natural law, good law is a law that reflects natural moral order through reason and experience. It is also important to understand the word moral here is not used in a religious sense, but it refers to the process of determining what is good and what is right based on reasoning and experience.
The history of natural law philosophy can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, Gentili, Suárez, etc. have used this natural law concept in their philosophies.
What is Legal Positivism?
Legal positivism is an analytical jurisprudence developed by legal thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. The theoretical foundation of this concept can be traced to empiricism and logical positivism. This is considered historically as the opposing theory of natural law.
Legal positivism holds the view that source of a law should be the establishment of that law by some socially recognized legal authority. It is also of the view that there is no connection between law and morals since moral judgments cannot be defended or established by rational arguments or evidence. Legal positivists consider good law as the law that is enacted by proper legal authorities, following the rules, procedures, and constraints of the legal system.
What is the difference between Natural Law and Legal Positivism?
Natural Law can be traced to Ancient Greece.
Legal Positivism was largely developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Natural Law holds that law should reflect moral order.
Legal Positivism holds that there is no connection between law and moral order.
Natural Law considers good law as the law that reflects natural moral order through reason and experience.
Legal Positivism considers good law as the law that is enacted by proper legal authorities, following the rules, procedures, and constraints of the legal system.
“Benozzo Gozzoli 004a” By Benozzo Gozzoli – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia