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Natural Law

From the perspective of modern social science the term “Natural Law” takes on a more nuanced, and at the same time a more practical, modern day, meaning.

The concept of natural law:

According to natural law moral theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings and the nature of the world. “

Haidt’s definition of morality:

Moral systems are interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate self-interest and make cooperative societies possible.

I’m near certain that it is impossible to completely and objectively separate “is” from “ought.”  But based on the idea of natural law described above and Haidt’s definition of morality, for the sake of argument, what if we could?  Or, if we were to try, how close could we get?

As objectively as possible, what “values, virtue, norms, practices, identities, institutions, and technologies” that “make cooperative societies possible” follow naturally from our current state of the art understanding of “the nature of human beings and the nature of the world,” including the nature of the “evolved psychological mechanisms” of the human psyche?

In other words, if we were asked try to put natural law into words based on our current understanding of human nature, what would it look like?

I submit, that the answer to that question is “Natural law is described and enshrined in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist Papers, and The Pamphlets of the American Revolution.”

Here’s Forefare Davis on this topic, from Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and the Perils of Unexamined Political Rage, August 20, 2015

The irony is that it has taken a century for sociologists like Haidt, et al, to only begin to understand what the Founders already knew and applied so well in their statecraft. The Founders were haunted by the long history of brittle Republics of the past as chronicled by the likes of Livy and Tacitus. Indeed, if you were to read Haidt’s text then venture to read Madison’s Federalist 10 you would realize there is very little that Haidt learned in his extensive sociological studies that the Founders didn’t already divine from their deep reading of history.


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