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The Rule of Law and the Challenges to Jurisprudence

Selected Papers Presented at the Fourth Central and Eastern European Forum for Legal, Political and Social Theorists, Celje, 23–24 March 2012


Edited By Péter Cserne, Miklós Könczöl and Marta Soniewicka

Over the last two decades scholars and citizens in Central and Eastern Europe had more than enough opportunity to realise that neither democracy nor the rule of law can be taken for granted. Such a realisation also means that if they want to think and speak clearly about or take a stand for their political and legal ideals, they need to reflect on them constantly, and conceptualise them in novel ways, by questioning entrenched lines of argument and problematising established patterns of thought. The contributors of this volume discuss a wide range of subjects from jurisprudential methodology and legal reasoning through democracy and constitutional courts to rights and criminal justice, raising questions and suggesting new ideas on «The Rule of Law and the Challenges to Jurisprudence» in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.
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The Relationship of Natural Law and Natural Rights: Organic, Contingent, or Logically Contradictory?


Szilárd Tattay

Introduction: two fundamental questions

Few would doubt the widespread commonplace in the history of ideas that natural rights were conceived from natural law. Nevertheless, the nature of the relationship between natural law and natural rights is far from being unambiguous. Although several competitive theories arose to explain this relationship, the debate around it has not come to an end.

It seems that the two most fundamental and most difficult questions in this regard are

(1) whether the ‘encounter’ between the concepts of natural law and natural rights in a certain period of the history of Western political and legal thought was necessary or merely accidental, and

(2) whether there is an organic, contingent, or logically contradictory relationship between these two concepts.

The relation between natural law and natural rights raises further issues as well. Is natural law or are natural rights entitled to logical primacy and is it possible to derive natural rights from natural law or vice versa? If above all obligations originate from natural law, what and how could establish a relationship between the norms of natural law and natural rights? Do natural rights only serve to fulfil obligations arising from natural law, or is their scope wider than this, and so and so forth?

In this paper I will try to answer only the two ‘fundamental questions’. As it seems to me, these two questions are interrelated, and...

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