Aquinas' Notion Of The Law Maker

936 words - 4 pages

Adrienne Blonski

Aquinas' Notion of the Law Maker

The focus of this argument is derived from Aquinas' four defining characteristics of law. The following considerations provide a convincing argument against Aquinas' notion stating that "all laws must be issued by the one responsible for the common good". Based on the suggested definition of law, as well as the concept of past precedent and case law developed by many sources through collective human experience, suggests that this provision of Aquinas' definition of law is not necessary.

Law is a product of social relations and may be defined in many ways; however the origin of modern Canadian law came from early case law or common law which was largely based on precedent determined by several travelling court systems. With the notion of a universal application of law, these precedents set from previous cases were codified or, as Aquinas would state, promulgated to ensure similar cases were treated alike. As Aquinas further notes, law in itself is essentially rules and regulations directed at the common good. Generally speaking, laws are rules directed at all aspects of social life from civil obedience to economics and through several separate disciplines, serves as a function to resolve social disputes based upon collective human experience.

According to Aquinas any law, for it to be defined as law, has four necessary components including one which states that "all laws must be issued by the one responsible for the common good". This provision of Aquinas' definition of law is largely based upon two premises to support the conclusion that the responsibility for making laws is held by either the whole community, or the person in charge with the good of the whole community. To clarify this concept Aquinas suggests the general principle that the responsibility for creating the common good for the whole community through laws is the responsibility of the person to whom the end belongs with the underlying notion that the relation between the ruler and the ruled is an element of natural law and ordained by God. He notes that bringing about the common good of the whole community requires coercion, a power had by only the whole community or the sovereign. Therefore, because Aquinas believes that people cannot be trusted to pursue that which is truly good voluntarily, ensuring that laws are legitimate requires the implementation of negative sanctions and punishment, coercive...

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