Natural Law Internalism

T. Brooks (ed.), Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 167-79

Posted: 10 Dec 2010 Last revised: 11 Apr 2013

See all articles by Thom Brooks

Thom Brooks

Durham University - Law School

Date Written: December 10, 2010


G.W.F. Hegel developed a new understanding of natural law that departs from both traditional and more contemporary accounts. Natural lawyers defend standards that are external to the law in order to survey the merits of law. Call these accounts theories of natural law externalism. Hegel offers a very different account where we survey the merits of law through a standard that is internal to law. This essay will explain Hegel’s natural law internalism and whether it marks an advance on existing natural law accounts. I will argue that Hegel offers us a novel understanding of natural law that is compelling, but ultimately unstable and problematic.

Keywords: Natural Law, Natural Reason, Jurisprudence, Cicero, Fuller, Finnis, Hart, Hegel, Brooks, Dworkin, Murphy, Externalism, Internalism, Law, Nature of Law, Legal System, Justice

JEL Classification: K00, B31, K10, K20, K30, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Thom, Natural Law Internalism (December 10, 2010). T. Brooks (ed.), Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 167-79, Available at SSRN: or

Thom Brooks (Contact Author)

Durham University - Law School ( email )

Durham Law School
Durham University
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom
+441913344365 (Phone)


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