natural law. 1. A physical law of nature <gravitation is a natural law>.2. A philosophical system of legal and moral principles purportedly deriving from a universalized conception of

human nature or divine justice rather than from legislative or judicial action; moral law embodied in principles of right and wrong <many ethical teachings are based on natural law>. — Also termed law of nature; natural justice; lex aeterna; eternal law; lex naturae; lex naturalae; divine law; jus divinum; jus naturale; jus naturae; normative jurisprudence; jure naturae. Cf. FUNDAMENTAL LAW; POSITIVE LAW.

“Natural law, as it is revived today, seeks to organize the ideal element in law, to furnish a critique of old received ideals and give a basis for formulating new ones, and to yield a reasoned canon of values and a technique of applying it. I should prefer to call it philosophical jurisprudence. But one can well sympathize with those who would salvage the good will of the old name as an asset of the science of law.” Roscoe Pound, The Formative Era of American Law 29 (1938).

“It is true that when medieval writers spoke of natural law as being discoverable by reason, they meant that the best human reasoning could discover it, and not, of course, that the results to which any and every individual’s reasoning led him was natural law. The foolish criticism of Jeremy Bentham: ‘a great multitude of people are continually talking of the law of nature; and then they go on giving you their sentiments about what is right and what is wrong; and these sentiments, you are to understand, are so many chapters and sections of the law of nature,’ merely showed a contempt for a great conception which Bentham had not taken the trouble to understand.” J.L. Brierly, The Law of Nations 20–21 (5th ed. 1955).

“[N]atural law is often an idealization of the opposite to that which prevails. Where inequality or privilege exists, natural law demands its abolition.” Morris R. Cohen, Reason and Law 96 (1961).

[Blacks Law 8th]