Introduction to Traditional and Modern Natural Law Theories

9 Pages Posted: 6 May 2016 Last revised: 17 Sep 2018

Date Written: September 07, 2018


The ‘Law’ like language and culture is a changing variable and it is shaped by social, associational, economic and political contexts. Due to its vividness and variable content, ‘Law’ has remained as one of the difficult concepts to define, yet there is no end to an unrelenting endeavour to provide the most fitting and acceptable definition of the law. In search of a comprehensive answer to the questions relating to meaning, source, subject, aspect and force of law, many jurists, since time immemorial, invested their energies and expertise in foregrounding various dimensions of law; it has led to many theories and schools of thoughts. Such theories may be classified into (i) Natural, (ii) Analytical, (iii) Historical, (iv) Philosophical (v) Sociological, and (vi) American realism. In this Module, our focus will be on Natural Law Theories. This paper is set out to serve three purposes–(i) to familiarize the reader with various interpretation of natural law; (ii) to study (briefly) various theories on natural law starting from ancient Greek, so that the reader can appreciate the shift of natural law from ‘dictate of God’ to dictate of ‘right reason’; and (iii) to appraise the revival of natural law in the 19th and 20th century along with infusion of new dimensions by Brian Bix in the study of both natural law and legal positivism. The first part of the module will deal with the meaning of the natural law, the second deals with various theories and the last segments start with a revival of natural law and conclude with Brian Bix’s views on natural law.

Keywords: Natural Law,Divine Law, Social Contract, Justice etc.

Suggested Citation

Huchhanavar, Shivaraj, Introduction to Traditional and Modern Natural Law Theories (September 07, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Shivaraj Huchhanavar (Contact Author)

Durham University, Law School ( email )

50 North Bailey
Palatine Centre
Durham, County Durham
United Kingdom

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