Co-dependence in natural and positive law

-Positive law needs natural law in order to be law at all, in the sense that an unjust law is not a sort of law; but natural law needs positive law in order to be law at all, in the sense that law has to be applied in concrete circumstances. Positive right might be just an extension of natural right, but natural right needs to be extended  since the latter comes to us as undetermined to an indefinite number of historical circumstances, different regimes, various ways that hearts are hardened, etc.



  1. thenyssan said,

    December 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    1. Can we streamline this to something like “participation by concretization” or does that gloss over things too much?

    2. Is positive (law/right) the actualization of the potency that is natural (law/right)?

    3. Is this another instance of man as co-creator with God?

    • December 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      I’m closest to agreeing outright with the largest one, though there are senses of the first two that are certainly true. There is an analogue here to the nature/nurture debate or the free-will/ actions are caused debate. In each case, both elements are distinguishable enough in the abstract (and perhaps at the extremes), but in the concrete it is not at all easy to tease apart the different strands of causality.

  2. Doug said,

    December 22, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Hi James,

    I apologize for this being off-topic, but I’d like to invite you to submit a paper to the newly formed Thomas Aquinas Society Quarterly (TASQ). You can check out our website if you’d like, and then read the criteria for submitting an article for publication. 🙂 I’m one of the journal’s co-founders and editors and I think we would benefit greatly from one of your contributions.

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