Friday, July 17, 2009

Natural Law and Indeterminacy

The modern American liberal feels a sensation of resentment well up in his esophagus whenever he is told that there are natural laws of morality which are written in human nature and cannot be successfully overridden by conventional morality. He consigns any such notion to antiquated religious zealotry, theocracy, and so forth, waving away any mention of the fact that this country was founded on "the laws of nature" and "inalienable rights." He sees admirable thinkers such as Clarence Thomas as religious zealots and theocrats. He changes the subject when the Founding Fathers are brought up in this connection.

Yet, of course there are natural laws. The Founding Fathers had thrice your intellect and learning. Think twice before you blithely contradict them. Just think for a moment about the real thrust of the leftist's distaste for natural law. Reflect for a moment what might be in your breast with regard to these matters.

You are deeply dissatisfied with traditional American values and ways of life and want the government to create a new social structure in which freedom is vastly curtailed in favor of wealth redistribution. You want rich, white, conservative Christians to have less wealth and power, and you want their wealth and power to be handed over to poor, non-whites who are not conservative Christians. Everyone who subscribes to the existence of natural laws says this is a very bad idea. So, you hate natural law and those who espouse it. This is the attitude which cost 100 million lives for your cause in the 20th Century and ruined the black American family. It's an attitude which kills by having the government of England and Canada deny health care to people who have earned enough money to pay for it and then gotten sick. But you persist. Your moral aspirations are based upon resentment. Think for a moment about what it is that you resent. It's not pretty that you resent it. I won't mention what it is. You know. It's a very dark place to be. Yet, there you are.

There is a way out of your detestable little conundrum. Think a minute. Take a breath.

Natural law does not entail the existence of God or the authority of religion. There is no divine command theory in natural law, which is a good thing, because divine command theory was refuted by Socrates in the Euthyphro 2500 years ago. So, relax. You can continue to hate mainstream American Christianity while accepting natural law.

Also, natural law is not fully deterministic of right and wrong. It sets up a large array of fundamental values which are inalienable from human nature. These have to do with the nature of justice, fair play, family ties, liberty, charity, and so forth. They allow for a considerable degree of flexibility and may be adhered to with equal fidelity by societies of vary different conventional moralities. There is a game with certain rules and structures and avenues of success, but there are many ways to play the games, many styles which take the game in differing directions with acceptable results. This means that a society can decide how it would like to live. In other words, it may maintain loyalty to its cherished values without violating natural law while other societies with different values maintain their values without violating natural law. All this is so, provided that the two societies in question are lucky enough and wise enough to have values consistent with natural law, of course.

So, relax, you can have your atheistic relativism, provided of course you see that the relativism is constrained in scope by natural law. You'll have to scrap the leftism, though.