Angels, Demons, Us: Raz and Aquinas on Law’s Necessity

32 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2020 Last revised: 24 Dec 2020

Date Written: October 3, 2020


This article draws a parallel between Joseph Raz’s ‘society of angels’ thought experiment and St. Thomas Aquinas’s description of society under the state of innocence in Summa Theologica (Part I, Q95, A4). Both Raz and Aquinas highlight practical indispensability of law not just for control but coordination, however, only Aquinas connects the nature of law properly so called to its orientation towards the common good. This explains why a converse ‘society of demons’ would be treated differently by Raz and Aquinas, only the former recognizing law in such a society as indistinguishable from the law of angels. Still, differences notwithstanding, both perspectives help us explore the idea of legality in atypical settings, such as Utopian societies, wicked regimes, extraordinary measures, and international law. The article ends with a call for further exploration of commonalities and not just differences between legal positivism and natural law.

Keywords: Jurisprudence, Raz, Aquinas, Angelology

Suggested Citation

Lukina, Anna, Angels, Demons, Us: Raz and Aquinas on Law’s Necessity (October 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Anna Lukina (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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