Natural law as a unifying ethic

Marie T. Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Natural law asserts that there is an objective moral order that human intelligence can understand and that societies are bound in conscience to follow. In 1772, George Mason appealed to natural law in denouncing a slavery statute in Virginia. This same ethic was called on to convict Nazi war criminals of crimes against humanity in 1948. In the last decade, natural law has enjoyed a resurgence in the medical biomedical ethics literature. It has appeared less frequently in the nursing literature and has been summarily dismissed when it has appeared. Only one nurse ethicist used natural law in discussing ethical issues (organ transplantation). Although further development of this philosophy is required, this ethic shows great promise as a guide to decision making in nursing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-361
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Deontology
  • Ethics
  • Natural law
  • Teleology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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