De essentia legis
Of the Essence of Law
Consequenter considerandum est de principiis exterioribus actuum. Principium autem exterius ad malum inclinans est Diabolus, de cuius tentatione in primo dictum est. Principium autem exterius movens ad bonum est Deus, qui et nos instruit per legem, et iuvat per gratiam. Unde primo, de lege; secundo, de gratia dicendum est.
We have now to consider the extrinsic principles of acts. Now the extrinsic principle inclining to evil is the devil, of whose temptations we have spoken in the FP, Q114. But the extrinsic principle moving to good is God, Who both instructs us by means of His Law, and assists us by His Grace: wherefore in the first place we must speak of law; in the second place, of grace.
Circa legem autem, primo oportet considerare de ipsa lege in communi; secundo, de partibus eius. Circa legem autem in communi tria occurrunt consideranda, primo quidem, de essentia ipsius; secundo, de differentia legum; tertio, de effectibus legis.
Concerning law, we must consider: (1) Law itself in general; (2) its parts. Concerning law in general three points offer themselves for our consideration: (1) Its essence; (2) The different kinds of law; (3) The effects of law.
Circa primum quaeruntur quatuor.
Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum lex sit aliquid rationis.
(1) Whether law is something pertaining to reason?
Secundo, de fine legis.
(2) Concerning the end of law;
Tertio, de causa eius.
(3) Its cause;
Quarto, de promulgatione ipsius.
(4) The promulgation of law.
Utrum lex sit aliquid rationis
Whether law is something of reason?
Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod lex non sit aliquid rationis. Dicit enim apostolus, ad Rom. VII, video aliam legem in membris meis, et cetera. Sed nihil quod est rationis, est in membris, quia ratio non utitur organo corporali. Ergo lex non est aliquid rationis.
Objection 1: It would seem that law is not something pertaining to reason. For the Apostle says (Rom 7:23): I see another law in my members, etc. But nothing pertaining to reason is in the members; since the reason does not make use of a bodily organ. Therefore law is not something pertaining to reason.
Praeterea, in ratione non est nisi potentia, habitus et actus. Sed lex non est ipsa potentia rationis. Similiter etiam non est aliquis habitus rationis, quia habitus rationis sunt virtutes intellectuales, de quibus supra dictum est. Nec etiam est actus rationis, quia cessante rationis actu, lex cessaret, puta in dormientibus. Ergo lex non est aliquid rationis.
Obj. 2: Further, in the reason there is nothing else but power, habit, and act. But law is not the power itself of reason. In like manner, neither is it a habit of reason: because the habits of reason are the intellectual virtues of which we have spoken above (Q57). Nor again is it an act of reason: because then law would cease, when the act of reason ceases, for instance, while we are asleep. Therefore law is nothing pertaining to reason.
Praeterea, lex movet eos qui subiiciuntur legi, ad recte agendum. Sed movere ad agendum proprie pertinet ad voluntatem, ut patet ex praemissis. Ergo lex non pertinet ad rationem, sed magis ad voluntatem, secundum quod etiam iurisperitus dicit, quod placuit principi, legis habet vigorem.
Obj. 3: Further, the law moves those who are subject to it to act aright. But it belongs properly to the will to move to act, as is evident from what has been said above (Q9, A1). Therefore law pertains, not to the reason, but to the will; according to the words of the Jurist (Lib. i, ff., De Const. Prin. leg. i): Whatsoever pleaseth the sovereign, has force of law.
Sed contra est quod ad legem pertinet praecipere et prohibere. Sed imperare est rationis, ut supra habitum est. Ergo lex est aliquid rationis.
On the contrary, It belongs to the law to command and to forbid. But it belongs to reason to command, as stated above (Q17, A1). Therefore law is something pertaining to reason.
Respondeo dicendum quod lex quaedam regula est et mensura actuum, secundum quam inducitur aliquis ad agendum, vel ab agendo retrahitur, dicitur enim lex a ligando, quia obligat ad agendum. Regula autem et mensura humanorum actuum est ratio, quae est primum principium actuum humanorum, ut ex praedictis patet, rationis enim est ordinare ad finem, qui est primum principium in agendis, secundum philosophum. In unoquoque autem genere id quod est principium, est mensura et regula illius generis, sicut unitas in genere numeri, et motus primus in genere motuum. Unde relinquitur quod lex sit aliquid pertinens ad rationem.
I answer that, Law is a rule and measure of acts, whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting: for lex is derived from ligare, because it binds one to act. Now the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts, as is evident from what has been stated above (Q1, A1, ad 3); since it belongs to the reason to direct to the end, which is the first principle in all matters of action, according to the Philosopher (Phys. ii). Now that which is the principle in any genus, is the rule and measure of that genus: for instance, unity in the genus of numbers, and the first movement in the genus of movements. Consequently it follows that law is something pertaining to reason.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod, cum lex sit regula quaedam et mensura, dicitur dupliciter esse in aliquo. Uno modo, sicut in mensurante et regulante. Et quia hoc est proprium rationis, ideo per hunc modum lex est in ratione sola. Alio modo, sicut in regulato et mensurato. Et sic lex est in omnibus quae inclinantur in aliquid ex aliqua lege, ita quod quaelibet inclinatio proveniens ex aliqua lege, potest dici lex, non essentialiter, sed quasi participative. Et hoc modo inclinatio ipsa membrorum ad concupiscendum lex membrorum vocatur.
Reply Obj. 1: Since law is a kind of rule and measure, it may be in something in two ways. First, as in that which measures and rules: and since this is proper to reason, it follows that, in this way, law is in the reason alone. Second, as in that which is measured and ruled. In this way, law is in all those things that are inclined to something from some law: so that any inclination arising from a law, may be called a law, not essentially but by participation as it were. And thus the inclination of the members to concupiscence is called the law of the members.
Ad secundum dicendum quod, sicut in actibus exterioribus est considerare operationem et operatum, puta aedificationem et aedificatum; ita in operibus rationis est considerare ipsum actum rationis, qui est intelligere et ratiocinari, et aliquid per huiusmodi actum constitutum. Quod quidem in speculativa ratione primo quidem est definitio; secundo, enunciatio; tertio vero, syllogismus vel argumentatio. Et quia ratio etiam practica utitur quodam syllogismo in operabilibus, ut supra habitum est, secundum quod philosophus docet in VII Ethic.; ideo est invenire aliquid in ratione practica quod ita se habeat ad operationes, sicut se habet propositio in ratione speculativa ad conclusiones. Et huiusmodi propositiones universales rationis practicae ordinatae ad actiones, habent rationem legis. Quae quidem propositiones aliquando actualiter considerantur, aliquando vero habitualiter a ratione tenentur.
Reply Obj. 2: Just as, in external action, we may consider the work and the work done, for instance the work of building and the house built; so in the acts of reason, we may consider the act itself of reason, i.e., to understand and to reason, and something produced by this act. With regard to the speculative reason, this is first of all the definition; second, the proposition; third, the syllogism or argument. And since also the practical reason makes use of a syllogism in respect of the work to be done, as stated above (Q13, A3; Q76, A1) and since as the Philosopher teaches (Ethic. vii, 3); hence we find in the practical reason something that holds the same position in regard to operations, as, in the speculative intellect, the proposition holds in regard to conclusions. Such like universal propositions of the practical intellect that are directed to actions have the nature of law. And these propositions are sometimes under our actual consideration, while sometimes they are retained in the reason by means of a habit.
Ad tertium dicendum quod ratio habet vim movendi a voluntate, ut supra dictum est, ex hoc enim quod aliquis vult finem, ratio imperat de his quae sunt ad finem. Sed voluntas de his quae imperantur, ad hoc quod legis rationem habeat, oportet quod sit aliqua ratione regulata. Et hoc modo intelligitur quod voluntas principis habet vigorem legis, alioquin voluntas principis magis esset iniquitas quam lex.
Reply Obj. 3: Reason has its power of moving from the will, as stated above (Q17, A1): for it is due to the fact that one wills the end, that the reason issues its commands as regards things ordained to the end. But in order that the volition of what is commanded may have the nature of law, it needs to be in accord with some rule of reason. And in this sense is to be understood the saying that the will of the sovereign has the force of law; otherwise the sovereign’s will would savor of lawlessness rather than of law.
Utrum lex ordinetur semper ad bonum commune sicut ad finem
Whether the law is always something directed to the common good?
Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod lex non ordinetur semper ad bonum commune sicut ad finem. Ad legem enim pertinet praecipere et prohibere. Sed praecepta ordinantur ad quaedam singularia bona. Non ergo semper finis legis est bonum commune.
Objection 1: It would seem that the law is not always directed to the common good as to its end. For it belongs to law to command and to forbid. But commands are directed to certain individual goods. Therefore the end of the law is not always the common good.
Praeterea, lex dirigit hominem ad agendum. Sed actus humani sunt in particularibus. Ergo et lex ad aliquod particulare bonum ordinatur.
Obj. 2: Further, the law directs man in his actions. But human actions are concerned with particular matters. Therefore the law is directed to some particular good.
Praeterea, Isidorus dicit, in libro Etymol., si ratione lex constat, lex erit omne quod ratione constiterit. Sed ratione consistit non solum quod ordinatur ad bonum commune, sed etiam quod ordinatur ad bonum privatum. Ergo lex non ordinatur solum ad bonum commune, sed etiam ad bonum privatum unius.
Obj. 3: Further, Isidore says (Etym. v, 3): If the law is based on reason, whatever is based on reason will be a law. But reason is the foundation not only of what is ordained to the common good, but also of that which is directed to the private good. Therefore the law is not only directed to the good of all, but also to the private good of an individual.
Sed contra est quod Isidorus dicit, in V Etymol., quod lex est nullo privato commodo, sed pro communi utilitate civium conscripta.
On the contrary, Isidore says (Etym. v, 21) that laws are enacted for no private profit, but for the common benefit of the citizens.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, lex pertinet ad id quod est principium humanorum actuum, ex eo quod est regula et mensura. Sicut autem ratio est principium humanorum actuum, ita etiam in ipsa ratione est aliquid quod est principium respectu omnium aliorum. Unde ad hoc oportet quod principaliter et maxime pertineat lex. Primum autem principium in operativis, quorum est ratio practica, est finis ultimus. Est autem ultimus finis humanae vitae felicitas vel beatitudo, ut supra habitum est. Unde oportet quod lex maxime respiciat ordinem qui est in beatitudinem. Rursus, cum omnis pars ordinetur ad totum sicut imperfectum ad perfectum; unus autem homo est pars communitatis perfectae, necesse est quod lex proprie respiciat ordinem ad felicitatem communem. Unde et philosophus, in praemissa definitione legalium, mentionem facit et de felicitate et communione politica. Dicit enim, in V Ethic., quod legalia iusta dicimus factiva et conservativa felicitatis et particularum ipsius, politica communicatione, perfecta enim communitas civitas est, ut dicitur in I Polit.
I answer that, As stated above (A1), the law belongs to that which is a principle of human acts, because it is their rule and measure. Now as reason is a principle of human acts, so in reason itself there is something which is the principle in respect of all the rest: wherefore to this principle chiefly and mainly law must needs be referred. Now the first principle in practical matters, which are the object of the practical reason, is the last end: and the last end of human life is bliss or happiness, as stated above (Q2, A7; Q3, A1). Consequently the law must needs regard principally the relationship to happiness. Moreover, since every part is ordained to the whole, as imperfect to perfect; and since one man is a part of the perfect community, the law must needs regard properly the relationship to common happiness. Wherefore the Philosopher, in the above definition of legal matters mentions both happiness and the body politic: for he says (Ethic. v, 1) that we call those legal matters just, which are adapted to produce and preserve happiness and its parts for the body politic: since the state is a perfect community, as he says in Polit. i, 1.
In quolibet autem genere id quod maxime dicitur, est principium aliorum, et alia dicuntur secundum ordinem ad ipsum, sicut ignis, qui est maxime calidus, est causa caliditatis in corporibus mixtis, quae intantum dicuntur calida, inquantum participant de igne. Unde oportet quod, cum lex maxime dicatur secundum ordinem ad bonum commune, quodcumque aliud praeceptum de particulari opere non habeat rationem legis nisi secundum ordinem ad bonum commune. Et ideo omnis lex ad bonum commune ordinatur.
Now in every genus, that which is said to be greatest is the principle of the others, and the others belong to that genus according to this order to that thing: thus fire, which is chief among hot things, is the cause of heat in mixed bodies, and these are said to be hot insofar as they have a share of fire. Consequently, since the law is chiefly ordained to the common good, any other precept in regard to some individual work, must needs be devoid of the nature of a law, save insofar as it regards the common good. Therefore every law is ordained to the common good.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod praeceptum importat applicationem legis ad ea quae ex lege regulantur. Ordo autem ad bonum commune, qui pertinet ad legem, est applicabilis ad singulares fines. Et secundum hoc, etiam de particularibus quibusdam praecepta dantur.
Reply Obj. 1: A command denotes an application of a law to matters regulated by the law. Now the order to the common good, at which the law aims, is applicable to particular ends. And in this way commands are given even concerning particular matters.
Ad secundum dicendum quod operationes quidem sunt in particularibus, sed illa particularia referri possunt ad bonum commune, non quidem communitate generis vel speciei, sed communitate causae finalis, secundum quod bonum commune dicitur finis communis.
Reply Obj. 2: Actions are indeed concerned with particular matters: but those particular matters are referable to the common good, not as to a common genus or species, but as to a common final cause, according as the common good is said to be the common end.
Ad tertium dicendum quod, sicut nihil constat firmiter secundum rationem speculativam nisi per resolutionem ad prima principia indemonstrabilia, ita firmiter nihil constat per rationem practicam nisi per ordinationem ad ultimum finem, qui est bonum commune. Quod autem hoc modo ratione constat, legis rationem habet.
Reply Obj. 3: Just as nothing stands firm with regard to the speculative reason except that which is traced back to the first indemonstrable principles, so nothing stands firm with regard to the practical reason, unless it be directed to the last end which is the common good: and whatever stands to reason in this sense, has the nature of a law.
Utrum cuiuslibet ratio sit factiva legis
Whether the reason of any man is competent to make laws?
Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod cuiuslibet ratio sit factiva legis. Dicit enim apostolus, ad Rom. II, quod cum gentes, quae legem non habent, naturaliter ea quae legis sunt faciunt, ipsi sibi sunt lex. Hoc autem communiter de omnibus dicit. Ergo quilibet potest facere sibi legem.
Objection 1: It would seem that the reason of any man is competent to make laws. For the Apostle says (Rom 2:14) that when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law . . . they are a law to themselves. Now he says this of all in general. Therefore anyone can make a law for himself.
Praeterea, sicut philosophus dicit, in libro II Ethic., intentio legislatoris est ut inducat hominem ad virtutem. Sed quilibet homo potest alium inducere ad virtutem. Ergo cuiuslibet hominis ratio est factiva legis.
Obj. 2: Further, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 1), the intention of the lawgiver is to lead men to virtue. But every man can lead another to virtue. Therefore the reason of any man is competent to make laws.
Praeterea, sicut princeps civitatis est civitatis gubernator, ita quilibet paterfamilias est gubernator domus. Sed princeps civitatis potest legem in civitate facere. Ergo quilibet paterfamilias potest in sua domo facere legem.
Obj. 3: Further, just as the sovereign of a state governs the state, so every father of a family governs his household. But the sovereign of a state can make laws for the state. Therefore every father of a family can make laws for his household.
Sed contra est quod Isidorus dicit, in libro Etymol., et habetur in decretis, dist. II, lex est constitutio populi, secundum quam maiores natu simul cum plebibus aliquid sanxerunt. Non est ergo cuiuslibet facere legem.
On the contrary, Isidore says (Etym. v, 10): A law is an ordinance of the people, whereby something is sanctioned by the Elders together with the Commonalty.