Is law something
that belongs to reason?
seems that law is not something that belongs to reason
(non sit aliquid rationis):
In Romans 7:23 the Apostle says, “I see another law
in my members ... .” But in those members there
is nothing that belongs to reason, since reason does
not use a corporeal organ. Therefore, law is not
something that belongs to reason.
Nothing exists in reason which is not either a power,
a habit, or an act. But law is not the very power
of reason itself. Likewise, law is not a habit
of reason, since the habits of reason are the intellectual
virtues that were discussed above (q. 57).
Nor, again, is law an act of reason, since if
it were, then law would cease to exist when reason ceased
to act, e.g., in those who are asleep. Therefore,
law is not something that belongs to reason.
Law moves those who are subject to the law to act in
an upright way (recte). But as is clear
from what was said above (q. 9, a. 1), it is properly
speaking the role of the will to move one to act.
Therefore, law has to do not with reason but rather
with the will, in keeping with what the Legal Expert
(iurisperitus) says [in Digestum Vetus
1]: “Whatever pleases the ruler (princeps)
has the force of law.”
contrary to this:
It is law’s function to command and forbid. But
as was established above (q. 17, a. 1), commanding belongs
to reason. Therefore, law is something that belongs
Law is a certain rule and measure of acts in accord
with which one is either induced to act or restrained
from acting. For ‘law’ (lex) is derived
from ‘to bind’ (ligare), since law obligates
(obligare) one to act. Now the rule and
measure of human acts is reason, which, as is clear
from what was said above (q. 1, a. 1), is
the first principle of human acts. For it belongs
to reason to order things to their endCwhere,
according to the Philosopher, the end is the first principle
in the case of things to be done (agenda).
But in every genus, that which is the principle is the
measure and rule of that genus. For instance,
one is the measure in the genus number,
and the first movement is the measure in the genus movement.
Hence, it follows that law is something that belongs
Reply to objection 1:
Since law is a rule and measure, there are two ways
in which it is said to exist in something.
First, law exists in that which measures and regulates.
And since this is proper to reason, law taken
in this sense exists in reason alone.
law exists in that which is regulated and measured.
And this is how law exists in all the things that are
inclined in any way by any kind of law. As a result,
any inclination that stems from any kind of law can
itself be called a law—not by its essence but, as it
were, by participation. And it is in this sense
that the very inclination of the members [of the body]
toward sensual desire is called ‘the law of the members’.
Reply to objection 2:
Just as in the case of exterior acts one must consider
both the operation (operatio) and the thing that
is done (operatum)— e.g., the act of building
and the thing built—so too in the works of reason one
must consider (a) the very acts of reason, i.e., the
act of understanding and the act of discursive reasoning,
and (b) what is constituted by acts of this sort.
In the case of speculative reason, the constituted things
are, first, the definition; second, the proposition
(enunciatio); and, third, the syllogism or argument.
Now, as was explained above (q. 76, a. 1) in keeping
with what the Philosopher teaches in Ethics 7,
practical reason likewise uses a certain type of syllogism
with respect to things that can be done (operabilia).
Hence, in the case of practical reason there is something
that is related to the actions (operationes)
in the same way that the proposition is related to the
conclusions in the case of speculative reason. These
universal propositions of practical reason, which are
ordered toward actions, have the character of law.
At certain times these propositions are actually being
considered, and at other times reason possesses them
to objection 3:
As was explained above (q. 17, a. 1), it is from the
will that reason has its power to move. For it
is because someone wills the end that his reason issues
commands regarding what is ordered toward the end.
However, for an act of will about what is commanded
to have the character of law, it must be regulated in
some way by reason (aliqua ratione regulata).
And this is how to understand the claim that the ruler’s
will has the force of law; otherwise, the ruler’s will
would constitute wickedness (iniquitas) rather