The Essential Natural Law

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The Essential Natural Law includes a new book, website and animated videos.

Published by the Fraser Institute, the book (edited by Aeon J. Skoble, professor of philosophy at Bridgewater State University and senior fellow with the Fraser Institute) examines the work of natural law scholars including Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century philosopher and priest, who wrote the Summa Theologiae, which explored the relationship between manmade laws and natural law.

For Aquinas and other natural law scholars, the idea that all humans share an inherent morality provides a moral restriction on the power of the state and creates a rationale for people to disobey manmade laws that contradict natural law.

Indeed, according to natural law, when government enacts laws that contradict what people know to be “right”—say, a law that discriminates against certain people because of their gender, ethnicity or religion—people will rightly disobey the law because it’s viewed as unjust.

This view helped spawn many of history’s most important movements and moments including the United States Declaration of Independence, which cites the “unalienable rights” of man, the underground railroad that helped enslaved African Americans escape to free U.S. states and Canada, and many other rights movements worldwide including women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and North America.

Throughout history, natural law scholars significantly contributed to the ideas that encourage free society and helped create the tenets of modern Western democracy—individual rights, justice and limited government—we enjoy today.

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