Natural law  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Natural law (ius naturale, lex naturalis) is law as seen as being independent of, and pre-existent to, the positive law of any given political order, society or nation-state. Such genesis is seen as determined by nature (whether that reflects creation, evolution, or random chance), and a notional law of nature treated as objective fact that is universally applicable; that is, it exists and is recognizable, without any dependence on human understanding, or on the positive law of any given state, political order, or legislature — and even of society at large.

Historically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature in deducing binding rules of moral behavior, via (dominant or insurgent) accounts of observed and/or posited aspects of reality and of “the human condition“.

The concept of natural law was documented in ancient Greek philosophy, including Aristotle, and was referred to in Roman philosophy by Cicero. References to it are also to be found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and were later expounded upon in the Middle Ages by Christian philosophers such as Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. The School of Salamanca made notable contributions during the Renaissance.

Modern natural law theories were greatly developed in the Age of Enlightenment, combining inspiration from Roman law with philosophies like social contract theory. It was used in challenging theory of the divine right of kings, and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, and government—and thus legal rights—in the form of classical republicanism. Conversely, the concept of natural rights is used by others to challenge the legitimacy of all such establishments.

In the early decades of the 21st century, the concept of natural law is closely related to the concept of natural rights. Indeed, many philosophers, jurists and scholars use natural law synonymously with natural rights (ius naturale), or natural justice,

Because of the intersection between natural law and natural rights, natural law has been claimed or attributed as a key component in the Declaration of Independence (1776) of the United States, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) of France, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) of the United Nations, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights (1953) of the Council of Europe.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Natural law" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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