Is Natural Law Natural?

John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration he...

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The purpose of thinking things through, in a general sense, is to develop a coherent worldview. We all have a worldview, but our worldviews tend to be incoherent and self-contradictory – in other words, wrong. It seems self-evident that a consistent worldview (which is not contradicted by reality) would lead to a more satisfying life – thus I continue to think things through.

Several things recently crossed my path which may contribute to this goal. We all know that groups can accomplish more than individuals acting alone, but some socio-biologists believe that we have evolved in a way to improve our ability to operate in groups. It seems to me that much of what we call “morality” is simply behavioral rules that facilitate group effectiveness. Group effectiveness is dependent on trust. Unless you trust others in the group, you have to devote more  time and energy to watching your back and less toward supporting the group. Moral rules as “don’t murder” or “don’t steal”, if generally followed, allow us to pay more attention to the group and less to our backsides. That is a huge advantage.

The biological angle intrigues me. I agree with most of the tenets of John Locke, but he reaches his conclusion based on “Natural Law“. This is a vague concept loosely tied to theological trends, which strikes me as no more rigorous than the divine right of kings. This has long troubled me.  But Locke’s analysis takes on a whole new dimension when “natural law” can be attributed to our genetic evolution.  Maybe Natural Law really is “natural law”!?!

Clearly, I haven’t entirely thought this through. But I’m working on it and you’re sure to hear more about this from me.

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