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Evaluating Supernatural Law: An Inquiry into the Health of Nations (The Restatement of the Obvious, Part II)


Thomas Folsom


Regent University School of Law


Regent Law Review, Vol. 21, No. 105, 2008

Abstract:     
This Article provides a working definition of supernatural law and describes a pressing problem with it: some say morality is essential to good government and that supernatural law is essential to morality, while others deny one or both of these propositions. As used herein, supernatural law refers to any rule or command given to subjects (believers) by an incorporeal sovereign and which includes at least one precept, rule, or command that is not necessarily determinable by reason. The term supernatural law is intended to be sufficiently general to apply to any such law whether proposed according to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, or any other religion; it also applies to nonreligious supernatural rules. Supernatural law is, has been, and probably will remain intertwined with conventional legal systems not only in the United States but globally and transnationally. This Article proposes that the claims of supernatural law be subjected to rational evaluation against specified criteria. Those criteria relate to: (1) the rule of law; (2) the nonimposition principle; and (3) the ability of any system of supernatural law to provide adequate assurances of performance. Adequate assurances signify some reason to believe that their undertakings to observe the rule of law and the nonimposition principle will be honestly and faithfully performed if and when the adherents of a supernatural law become politically dominant and powerful enough to make legally binding rules for the rest of the polity. If, in fact, morality is important to the health of nations, and if supernatural law is important to morality, then the state of supernatural law is a leading indicator of the health of any nation. Surprisingly little systematic thought has been given to the general question how to evaluate the claims of any given system of supernatural law (a supernatural jurisprudence) against any specified criteria for rational judgment about those claims. This Article does just that. It asserts that if and to the extent any supernatural law positively supports the rule of law and respects the nonimposition principle, it is a great good which can contribute to the health of any nation. It also asserts the converse. Any system of supernatural law that cannot be trusted to be consistent with the rule of law and the nonimposition principle can be toxic to the health of a nation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 76

Keywords: Supernatural law, Natural law, Modern moral realism, Normative jurisprudence, Law & Morality, Rule of law, Non-imposition, Assurances of performance

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Date posted: March 1, 2009 ; Last revised: March 20, 2009

Suggested Citation

Folsom, Thomas, Evaluating Supernatural Law: An Inquiry into the Health of Nations (The Restatement of the Obvious, Part II). Regent Law Review, Vol. 21, No. 105, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1351003

Contact Information

Thomas C. Folsom (Contact Author)
Regent University School of Law ( email )
1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States
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