Natural Law: An Essay in Ethics

Natural Law: An Essay in Ethics

by Edith Jemima Simcox


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Edith Simcox (1844-1901) was a prominent British feminist, social critic and prolific writer. She published widely, advocating support for women's right to education, improved working conditions and suffrage. Her scholarly works in philosophy and economic history sought to demonstrate that contemporary capitalism was not the only route to a prosperous society. Her articles appeared in many periodicals and among her books are Episodes in the Lives of Men, Women, and Lovers (1882) and the two-volume Primitive Civilizations (1894), both also reissued in this series. First published in 1877, this book analyses the laws that govern human relations with society and with the natural world. Its chief concern is to establish whether human actions and feelings are subject to the same natural laws as inanimate objects, and whether such laws are 'of supernatural imposition'.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108040822
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 01/14/2012
Series: Cambridge Library Collection - Philosophy Series
Pages: 375
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

conception of how the will of a person can cause anything to come into existence out of nothing. We are supposed to know by moral and intellectual assurance that God is, and the name by which He is acknowledged bears with it the association of a great What unknowable by finite faculties. And it is no harder to imagine a will creating the properties of acts and relations than it is to imagine the same will creating real substances. The theological faith and feeling in its entirety commands so much respect and sympathy that we may consider ourselves fortunate in not having to take sacred names in Tain in discussing this conception of law, which postulates a personal first causeoutside the law and its subjectof the obligatoriness of the law. Hobbes, who regards the Sovereign as a miniature Deity, and Austin, who regards the Deity as a magnified legislator, both apply to purely human relations a similar theory of personal will as the source of legal compulsion, and it will be sufficient if we can show its inadequacy to explain even the superficial uniformities of conduct enforced by the rods and axes of political authority. Any one can " call spirits from the vasty deep," but to constitute an act of sovereignty over the spirits, they must be prepared to come " when you do call for them." The intention of a ruler, his mere will that such an act be done or forborne, does not of itself control, or even materially influence, the will of the person to whom the command is addressed. The will of another person may be accepted as a rule of conduct either from affection, or because it is deliberately judged to be wiser and better than the subject will, or because it is conceived to possess anirresistible strength, the thought of which paralyses, so to speak, the power or the will to d...

Table of Contents

1. Natural law; 2. Customary and positive law; 3. Morality; 4. Religion; 5. The natural history of altruism; 6. The natural sanctions of morality; 7. Social and individual perfection; Conclusions.

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