The Superiority or Integrity of Natural Law for Our Time

  •  Nico Swartz    
  •  Obonye Jonas    


The idea of the two laws, one resting solely on human authority and the other claiming divine or natural origin and therefore entitled to supremacy over mere human law, has a long and chequered history, and still possesses vitality in the 21st century. Human rights infringements by positive law, under the enactments of the Choice of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996 and the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996, have led to a revival of natural law thinking. The aim of this paper will be to explore briefly the significance of natural law thinking in the past, to establish the forms in which it manifests itself in the present day, and to attempt to evaluate the contribution it may be capable of making to the problems of law in the modern world. Primarily, a theory of natural law needs to be undertaken to assist the practical reflections of those concerned to act, whether as judges, statesmen, citizens. The principles of natural law are traced out not only in religion, moral philosophy, and/or ethics and “individual” conduct, but also in political philosophy and jurisprudence, in political action, adjudication, and the life of the citizen. They require that authority be exercised, in most circumstances, according to the manner conveniently labelled as the Constitution or the “rule of law” and with due respect for human rights which embody the requirements of justice.

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