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Modern Political Theory - Essay Example

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An essay "Modern Political Theory" reports that the historic notion of natural law contended that there were specific moral elements that were universal to all members of the human race. The understanding is that these moral elements existed despite extraneous arrangements the individual had made…
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Modern Political Theory
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Download file to see previous pages The understanding of natural law is that it necessarily distinguishes between laws of nature and those that have been artificially created by society, with the latter referring to the positive law. Locke understood that one of the main differentiating features between these is that natural law exists throughout all cultures, while a positive law is experienced only through specific social or governmental designations (Dunn). Another prominent consideration Locke made in regards to natural law was in relation to theological elements. Locke distinguished between religious law and natural law, as natural law is the law that emerges solely through the process of human reason and rationality. One recognizes that whereas natural law reveals itself to the individual through rationality, the religious law implies a divine revelation as the primary substantiation. For instance, while there are elements of the Ten Commandments that are recognized elements of the natural law, there are also elements that are not applicable to all humanity. In these regards, Locke’s understanding of natural law in relation to theology was the recognition that while there may be a divine entity that establishes laws that overlap with natural law, they are only considered natural law if they can be determined through human reason (Forde). Notably, Locke believed that when the Bible or religious principles went beyond or conflicted with the natural law they were improperly formulated; as such, Locke chose to interpret the Bible in accord with natural law. To a large extent, Locke’s perspective on natural law in relation to religious law is formulated within the voluntarism and intellectualism debate. While Locke highly emphasizes the importance of rational understanding to the establishment of natural law, he also makes a number of prominent statements that seemingly supports theological perspectives on social obligations. For instance, in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke argues that laws need have an individual lawgiver. In the Essays on the Law of Nature, Locke argues that individuals have an obligation to abide by their creator (Forde). It seems that for Locke the question of natural law then becomes a voluntarist in regards to the reasons humans should follow natural law, but remains highly rationalistic in the means by which a perspective establishes what constitutes natural law. One must also consider Locke’s understanding of natural law as to whether he believed the predominant elements were rights or duties the individual must follow. It seems to a great degree most theorists believe that Locke’s notion of natural law is that it generally refers to aspects of human rights. In these regards, Locke is believed to have adopted a view of human nature that as motivated by hedonistic impulses. As humans are predominantly motivated by such self-interest the natural need for human self-preservation supersedes any types of duties by which humans might be restricted. Still, other theorists believe that Locke was also concerned with natural law as prescribing moral duties to humanity. To a degree, such a different appear semantic. Consider that argued that some of the core elements of the natural law were life, liberty, and property. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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