3 Nat. L.F. 68 (1958)
Human Purpose and Natural Law

handle is hein.journals/ajj3 and id is 72 raw text is: HUMAN PURPOSE AND
Lon L. Fuller
IT IS DIFFICULT to achieve effective communication in any discussion of a
term that bears as many meanings as does natural law. An adequate
semantic analysis of this term would not only have to discriminate among
such distinct meanings as can be discerned, but would also have to under-
take something much more difficult, that is, to trace the complicated over-
lappings among these meanings that make them appear to have some sort
of family resemblance. Such an analysis would not advance the purposes of
this paper, for the problem I wish to present relates to a fundamental insight
of ontology of the sort that may indeed be presupposed in the process of
definition, but can scarcely be advanced by it.
It may help to avoid misunderstanding if I state briefly what I am not
attempting to do in this paper. I am not, in any usual sense, advancing a
theory of natural law. I do not bring with me any code of nature. I do
not hold myself open to deal with problems of casuistry, to say how my
concept of natural law would solve this or that case. My concern is pri-
marily to present a problem, and only incidentally and imperfectly to sug-
gest a solution for it. The problem to which I address myself is one with
which most theories of natural law attempt to deal, however clumsily. It is
a problem that positivism commonly treats as simply nonexistent.
The problem I have in mind is that which arises when we attempt to
reconcile the now generally accepted dichotomy of fact and value with a
purposive interpretation of human behavior. For it is my thesis that when
we accept the full consequences that flow from a view which treats human
action as goal-directed, the relation between fact and value assumes an
aspect entirely different from that implied in the alleged truism that from
what is nothing whatever follows as to what ought to be. Let me illustrate.
I see at a distance a boy who holds in his hand a small, gray, roundish
object. He seems to be contemplating this object intently. After a period
of hesitation, he places the object carefully between his palms and repeatedly
presses on it. He then relaxes his grip, holds the object loosely in his left
hand, and begins to look about him on the ground. He apparently finds
*Professor Fuller's article originally appeared at 53 JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 697
(1956). It is reprinted here by permission of the editors.

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