Law (3)

An incomplete account

Fuller, in his rejection of God as the basis of natural law, gives an incomplete account of the goodness of law (Summers, 1984, 64). Arguments for the existence of God and apologetics concerning the identity of God are beyond the scope of this essay. However, the author asserts that goodness itself must be properly understood and described, if a theorist is to claim that a concept, attitude, object, or act is good.

Goodness is a facet of ultimate, objective reality. Furthermore, goodness is part of the definition of God: God cannot be God without being good (Swinburne, 1979, 8). If there is no objective goodness, then reality and logic are incoherent. Although, owing to the transcendental quality of ultimate reality, it may be impossible to grasp goodness fully, a priori reasoning shows that goodness must be an attribute of a person. Therefore, if ultimate goodness exists, then God exists.

A natural law theory must anchor law in objective, ultimate, goodness; otherwise, law is not meaningful, ethically binding, or desirable. Therefore, such a theory must trace law back to God. Fuller’s account of law fails to do so; consequently, it is incomplete.   


This essay has argued that Fuller was right to reject legal positivism. Human laws and morality cannot be separated analytically or in practice. Legal systems, owing to the transactional nature of human psychology and the link between value judgments and objective standards, are fundamentally moral systems. The fact that human actions and laws fail to meet an ideal standard does not entail that morality is not part of legal systems. Fuller’s account of the goodness of law is incomplete, since it fails to relate law to God, the ultimate reality. For a purpose or object to be good, it must relate in some way to God’s goodness.


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