Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The notion of “natural law” is a prime and enduring one in the Western philosophical and political tradition. In antiquity, the doctrine of natural law was based on a conception of nature as a primary ordering force in which every being was ascribed a place. In contemporary times, the doctrine has been reformulated under the guise of “natural rights,” meaning that laws should respect inherent human values. Such a multimillennium history could not but entail major variations over time in the meaning, the purpose, and the place of natural law. For this reason, any comprehensive approach to it must make room for the remarkable permanence of some traits of what is called natural law as well as for dramatic changes in its object and definition. For the Greeks and then the Romans, who crafted the notion of natural law in a doctrine sometimes referred to as jus naturalism (from jus ...