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Government Based Upon Natural Law - (Part 1) - Philosophy of Government



This is the first part of a series of posts dealing with government based upon Natural Law.

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated.  Neither may a government determine the aesthetic values of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression.  Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious or philosophical doctrines.  Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain their freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.”


Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Prize winning physicist

Introduction

The purpose of this series of documents is to present how I believe a government should function so that it is consistent with what is called Natural Law, sometimes called Universal or Divine Law. Natural Law is here defined as those laws determined by our Creator, that when followed in universally consistent ways, facilitate the spiritual and moral evolution of mankind.

The policies advocated here are consistent with my core beliefs, which can be found here. I then state my philosophy of government, which I believe to be consistent with these core beliefs. This is followed by a list of the particular topics that will be covered in the series on good government. 

My intention is to present a philosophy of government that, if adopted, will lead to peace and prosperity for all people of good will as well as to provide an environment conducive to spiritual growth, for those who so desire. If done properly, a government following these principles could be the first sustainable government.

Philosophy of Government 

A philosophy of government concerns the role of government in the affairs of its citizens. One’s governmental philosophy must be consistent with one’s core philosophical beliefs.

As freedom and peace are so important to our material, physical and spiritual growth, the core tenant of my philosophy of government is that the main purpose of government is to help to protect each individual’s right to live and grow in peace.

Because the philosophy of government presented here contends that the primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, many atheists and agnostics will find that they substantially agree with this governmental philosophy, even though they might disagree with some of my core philosophical beliefs. 

In a country such as the United States, which properly operates by the rule of law, the manner in which government protects our rights is through our laws. Hence, our laws should be centered upon the protection of the people’s right to live life as they see fit, as long as this is done in peace.

Thus a good law is one which says that if a person is convicted of violating the life, liberty, or property of another, then a penalty may be imposed, which penalty itself will remove either the life, liberty or property of the violator.

The most common such laws prohibit murder, rape, child abuse, theft, assault, fraud, and coercion. In addition, since pollution can have a detrimental effect on a person’s life or property, laws that regulate harmful pollution in a rational way are also good laws.

Conversely, bad laws are those that prohibit a belief, or that prohibit any action or behavior that does not interfere with the right of others to their life, liberty or property. For example, the world’s great religions and great civilizations all have prohibitions against such acts as adultery, homosexual sex, greed, and even gluttony. However, legislation making these illegal would be inappropriate, because these acts do not interfere with the rights of others.  Similarly, laws against adults privately using the various forms of drugs would not be appropriate laws.

Another way to look at this is to realize that if a person is convicted of violating a law, the penalty always entails the loss of life, liberty and/or property of that person. Hence, the only good laws are those that penalize only persons who violate the life, liberty and/or property of another.

Christ said that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, and even to love our enemies. If each of us did this, the world would be immediately transformed. Yet, it is not the place of government to require us to obey these commandments; the government ought not to legislate what beliefs we should follow, or even how we are to lead our lives, as long as our actions do not cause harm to another.

This governmental platform therefore contains only legislation that I believe is in alignment with these criteria; it is not a list of all good things that we should do, nor is it list of prohibitions of all the bad things we ought not to do. Rather, it only deals with legislation that prohibits a person or group of persons from causing harm to another.

Additionally, because the natural resources belong to the people as a whole, legislation with respect to our natural resources is also a responsibility of government.

Jefferson said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Therefore, I believe it important to limit the role of government so as to protect our liberties. In this vein, the US Constitution specifically enumerates what may be legislated by Congress (called the ‘enumerated powers’). Furthermore, the 10th Amendment stipulates that the powers not delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution be reserved to the States or to the people. Accordingly, another criterion for being a good federal law is that the law can be justified under one of its Constitutionally-enumerated powers. Furthermore, any current federal laws or programs or expenditures that cannot be justified under one of the enumerated powers should be phased out, or, alternatively, the Constitution could be amended to add such a program to one of its enumerated powers.

The intention therefore, is to provide a governmental platform that protects each person’s right to live in peace, as well as to prevent the encroachment of government on those rights. To say this in a different way, we believe that government serves us best when it protects all free markets – meaning those interactions that are voluntary and informed - free markets to trade goods and services; free markets of ideas, science, art, and music; free markets of religion, education, association, and friendship. Good government ought to protect all of these freedoms, and more.


The type of government described in the following series is the only one that is sustainable - one the could last indefinitely.  And that is because it not only allows its citizens to lead their lives as they see fit, but protects the right to do so.

Government Based on Natural Law Topics

For the convenience of the reader, below is an alphabetical list of the government-related items discussed in detail in the remaining parts of this series.

Appointment of Justices
Abortion
Businesses and Prosperity
Border and Port Security
Children
Defense and Military Policy
Drug Policy
Economic Policy
Educational Benefit Subsidy
Energy Policy and Nuclear Power
English as the official language of the United States
Environmental Policy
Foreign Aid
Foreign Trade
Global Warming
Government Control of Private Organizations
Government Sponsored Gambling
Hate-Crime Laws
Immigration Policy
Marriage and Society
Medical Benefit Subsidy
Monetary Policy
Natural Resource Tax Subsidy
Protection from Criminals
Social Security and Retirement
Taxes and Spending
The Right to Own and Bear Arms
Women in Combat
Voting System Reform

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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author.  You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

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Comments

Anonymous said…
Hey TF,

If I paraphrase correctly, I believe this article states that a "good law" removes the life, liberty, and/or property of a person who impinges on the life, liberty, and/or property of another. This sounds a little bit like "an eye for an eye" to me, so I am wondering what your response to the following question I happened upon recently (in a jury summons):
Do you believe the primary purpose of the Criminal Justice System is to
1) Punish people who have committed crimes.
2) Prevent the crime from recurring, or
3) Rehabilitate people who have committed crimes.
--cp
Tim Farage said…
I'd say the primary purpose of the criminal justice system is to keep criminals away from those who live in peace.

(I would repeal laws that prohibit the private use of drugs by adults, because they do not directly violate others rights.)

And criminals who commit serious felonies such as murder, rape, child abuse, theft, robbery, and aggravated assault, need to be kept in prison so that they can no longer hurt others. Most criminals come from poor communities. If they are released, they go back and wreck more havoc on those communities.

I would also require prisoners to work for their keep.

Note that this also prevents crimes, since most crimes are committed by repeat offenders.

Rehabilitation is fine for those prisoners who wish it.

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