JSI Seminar: Natural Law to Natural Rights to Human Rights – Law School: Events JSI Seminar: Natural Law to Natural Rights to Human Rights – Law School: Events

JSI Seminar: Natural Law to Natural Rights to Human Rights

JSI Seminar: Natural Law to Natural Rights to Human Rights

In-person event

**Please note this event date has been moved to one day earlier than originally advertised.**

Natural law and natural rights are frequently discussed as if they are tightly connected, and human rights are presented as natural rights in a new label. But the relationship between all three is complicated and in tension. Natural law consists of objective legal principles and rules dictating the right course of action: do good and avoid evil, do not murder or steal, honor contracts, and other binding proscriptions and prescriptions. Natural rights, in contrast, are innate subjective rights individuals hold against government and others. This is about individual powers, entitlements, and areas of protection from infringement by others: a right to possess property, to defend one’s life, to exercise free speech, to choose one’s religion, to choose employment and spouses, and so forth.

Thomas Hobbes drew a clear distinction between the two: “RIGHT consisteth in liberty to do, or to forbear: whereas LAW, determineth, and bindeth to one of them: so that law, and right, differ as much, as obligation and liberty.” Or as John Locke put it, “for right [jus] consists in the fact that we have a free use of something, but law [lex] is that which either commands or forbids some action.” A tension arises because natural rights promote freedom while natural law compels conformity. Natural rights and human rights appear obviously connected, since both espouse rights that attach to humans universally. Yet tension exists because natural rights had expired over a century before “human rights” obtained recognition, those who recognized human rights did not identify them with natural rights, and the content of the human rights extend far beyond previously recognized natural rights. Natural law, natural rights, and human rights are linked yet distinct.

About the speaker

Brian Tamanaha is the John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University School of Law. A scholar of jurisprudence and law and society, he has written eleven books, which have collectively received 6 book awards, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages.

Wednesday 24 July 2024, 6-7.30pm AEST – NEW DATE

Venue: Level 4, Boardroom, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown campus

CPD Points: 1.5

This event is proudly presented by the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence at The University of Sydney Law School.

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Jul 24 2024


6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

More Info



Board Room, Level 4
Sydney Law School


Professional Learning & Community Engagement
02 9351 0248

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