The Metamorphoses of Natural Law: On the Social Function of the Pre-Bourgeois and Bourgeois Foundations of Law

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“De jure naturae multa fabulamur” — after 450 years, Luther's statement has lost none of its original validity. After a brief pseudo-renaissance following WWII, one now hears far less in legal theory about natural law, which appears finally to have fallen victim to what Weber early in the century characterized as “a progressive decomposition and relativization of all meta-legal axioms” — a destruction resulting partly “from legal rationalism itself,” and partly “from the skepticism which characterizes modern intellectual life generally.” Law today, wrote Weber, “is all too tangibly (in the great majority of its determinations, and especially in many which are particularly important in terms of principle) revealed to be both the product and the technical medium of a compromise of interests,”
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