Natural Law

Joel Feinberg

in Problems at the Roots of Law

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155266
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833177 | DOI:
Natural Law

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This chapter addresses the ‘Nuremberg Problem’, which questions whether the punishment of Nazi war criminals represented a departure from law or the use of a norm implicit in the law of every nation. In analyzing the debate between H. L. A. Hart (who argued that the laws of the Nazi regime were valid, but too evil to obey) and Lon Fuller (who held that the Nazi regime was not a valid legal system, so there was no obligation to obey), we see the extent to which these thinkers would have been political allies. The famous differences between the legal positivist and the natural law theorist on the question of private citizens' moral obligation to obey the law do not amount to much. It does not follow from this, however, that no substantive differences exist between legal positivism and natural law theory as general accounts of the relation between law and morality.

Keywords: Fuller; Hart; legal positivism; natural law; norm; Nuremberg; punishment

Chapter.  17638 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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