Summarise Finnis’ arguments in "Natural Law and Natural Rights"

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Brief summary of Finnis’s argument Finnis claims that a system of authoritative stipulations is required to co-ordinate the common good.[1] The first and most fundamental principle of practical reasonableness is that authority in a community is to be exercised by those who can in fact effectively settle co-ordination problems for that community.[2] In any large and complex community, there will be a need for rules providing for the cooperation and coordination of individuals for the community to act as a community, so that its members survive and flourish, and have a reasonable chance at realising the ‘basic goods’ of humans. To treat something as authoritative is to treat it as an ‘exclusionary reason’ for action.[3] This means acting accordingly to the stipulations of the person or institution for the reasons that he/she/it has so stipulated, regardless of the existence of at least some other reasons to (or not to) act in that way. To seek out the source of authority is to recognise the notion that all members of a community are entitled to concern and respect.Along these lines Cardinal Bellarmine formulated his transmission theory which states that natural reasonableness requires that there be government authority, but it at the same time doesn’t identify any particular person or class as the bearer of authority.Therefore, natural reasonableness requires that everybody (the whole community) be the bearer of authority (who then transmits its authority to representatives).[4] Finnis argues that this conclusion is implausible because we need authority to substitute for unanimity in determining the solution to co-ordination problems that involve everyone in the community.He further argues that this theory either means that there is no authority in the community or it tells us the location of authority in some communities.

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Finnis concludes that there is a need for authority in order to achieve the common good. In Finnis’s view the origin of authority is through the principles of practical reasonableness and the basic values of common good, generating practical conclusions from the fact of ability to co-ordinate action for the common good.[5] Rationale behind the conclusion The need for authority in a community where people are energetic and inventive in pursuit of their own or of common goods is apparent. The fact that a person or body has authority over others in a community has normative consequences for practical reasonableness; it affects the responsibilities of both rulers and ruled, by creating certain exclusionary reasons for action. These normative consequences derive from the normative principle that authority is good (because it is required for the realization of the common good) when that principle is taken in conjunction with the fact that a particular person, body or configuration of persons do what authority is to do (i.e.

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