LAW AND MORALS
THE relation between law and morals is the crux of all natural law theory. The theory not only requires an extension of the notion of law. It also implies a definite view about its compass. The problem is no longer one of form or of structure. It is a problem of content. The content of law is a moral one. Law is not only a measure of action. It is a pronouncement on its value. Law is an indication of what is good and evil. In turn, good and evil are the conditions of legal obligation.
The problem of the content of law is far from being ignored by present-day legal positivists. They frankly admit that every system of laws corresponds to a particular "ideology". They refer to the "sociological background" as a necessary part of legal experience. They recognize that law is not only a command, but also the embodiment of certain values. The difference lies in the manner of conceiving those values. Natural law theorists would never have admitted that law is merely the expression of the standards of a particular group or society. They believed in absolute values, and they conceived of law as a means to achieve them. "Law is the furtherance of what is good and equitable.""There is no law unless it be just." "The end of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man." I have chosen my quotations at random. We are no longer concerned with what divided their authors. We are concerned with what they had in common.
The close association of morals and law is the distinguishing mark of natural law theory throughout its long history.1 The very enunciation of natural law is a moral proposition. The first precept of natural law, says Thomas Aquinas, is "to do____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Natural Law:An Introduction to Legal Philosophy. Contributors: A. P. d'entrèves - Author. Publisher: Hutchinson University Library. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1951. Page number: 80.