Human Rights and Natural Law


  • Janne Haaland Matlary Pontificial Academy of Social Sciences; University of Oslo, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science


Natural law, Political philosophy, Human rights, Human nature


Europe has seen a staggering change in its overall political climate in recent history. Relativism is the winning philosophy of the day, even on a global scale, and the notion of human nature, of a common standard for all mankind as an objective reality has virtually evaporated. Within political spheres everything is handled through a paradigm of personal rights, dressed up as political correctness: rights that are the personal property of the individual who holds neither obligation nor common interest with the rest of society. Rights are just personal choices, desires that trump the notion of a cohesive societal whole with assigned responsibilities and a sense of the welfare of all. The author maintains that the total subjectivist and nihilist view of rights, dressed up as political correctness, currently in vogue is a dangerous precursor to totalitarianism that has plagued the European continent before. The author argues against this corroding view of objective rights in current European politics in favor of a specific anthropology, one with underlying immutable human rights that cannot be whimsically changed by political climate or society. Thus, the author proposes a revival of Natural Law and an approach that engages these problems in a broader, more cohesive whole by utilizing a rationality that embraces an ethic rooted in this objective notion of Natural Law.




How to Cite

Matlary, Janne Haaland. “Human Rights and Natural Law”. Acta Philosophica 22, no. 1 (March 1, 2013): 135–150. Accessed March 4, 2024.