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
The Relationship of Natural Law and Natural Rights: Organic, Contingent, or Logically Contradictory?
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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