Natural Law: Autonomous or Heteronomous? The Thomistic Perspective

  • Diego PooleEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 22)


According to Aquinas, human creatures participate in the eternal law in two different ways: as a mere material inclination stamped in nature (the improper concept of law), and as a formal participation, as imperative towards an end, constituted by human reason (the proper sense of law, insofar as it only exists in rational creatures). According to this second sense, human reason is regulatory and prescriptive, the creative source of law, in an analogous way as divine wisdom is. Natural law consists properly in this participation of human reason in the divine reason; in that it manifests itself in such a way that, in a similar manner to divine reason and cooperating with it, human reason is able to contribute to the ordering of everything —of oneself first of all— towards its end. In this ordering task, man’s reason and appetitive power interact, being perfected by moral virtue.


Human Reason Formal Participation Rational Appetite Moral Precept Social Doctrine 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Filosofía del DerechoUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMadridSpain

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