Laws of nature and natural laws

The relationship between conceptions of law and conceptions of nature is a complex one, and proceeds on what appear to be two distinct fronts. On the one hand, we frequently talk of nature as being lawlike or as obeying laws. On the other hand there are schools of philosophy that seek to justify ethics generally, or legal theory specifically, in conceptions of nature. Questions about the historical origins and development of claims that nature is lawlike are generally treated as entirely distinct from the development of ethical natural law theories. By looking at the many intersections of law and nature in antiquity, this paper shows that such a sharp distinction is overly simplistic, and often relies crucially on the imposition of an artificial and anachronistic suppression of the role of gods or divinity in the worlds of ancient natural philosophy. Furthermore, by tightening up the terms of the debate, we see that the common claim that a conception of [`]laws of nature' only emerges in the Scientific Revolution is built on a superficial reading of the ancient evidence
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Daniel Bennett (1969). Essential Properties. Journal of Philosophy 66 (15):487-499.

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