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Teleological Perspective

Aquino, Adrienne Mae

Garcia, Marvin
Santos, Christian Lloyd
I. Labels

Teleology, from the Greek words telos (“end”) and logos (“discourse”), is the study of
design or purpose. In philosophy, it is “the science or doctrine that attempts to explain the universe in
terms of ends or final causes”, believing that all things are designed for or are directed toward a final
result, and that that inherent purpose or final cause exists in nature. It is therefore grounded on the
argument that there is a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction in

II. Natural Law Basis

The teleological concept of law is based on the natural law philosophy, the natural law, as was
defined by Plato and Aristotle, “is a discipline to which human conduct and relations must conform in
order to realize both the individual and the common good.” Accordingly, it is also defined as “the
universal discipline of virtue in the exercise of their rights, in the performance of their obligations, in
the observance of rules, and the preservation of order and unity.” Thus, it is based on the idea that
“there is a very present bond or relationship existing between positive law and natural law, hence, for
the teleologists, the natural law provides for a magnanimous influence in shaping the concept of law
than any other idea. In addition, they consider the natural law as the most potent force in the
development of legal institutions and legal concepts, by which, it is said that, it is upon the precepts of
the natural law that the completeness of the legal order can be achieved. For that matter, the
teleological school of jurisprudence believes that a good legal order can be deduced from the natural
law, thus making the law universally valid for all people.” 2

Article found at:, December 7, 2008

Pascual, Carlito. Introduction to Legal Philosophy. 1994
III.The Greek Concept

The philosophers of ancient Greece, who were among the first thinkers to inquire into the
problem of the nature of the law, felt a need for an unassailable starting point in the study of the nature
of law. The Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) believed that the main condition of life
in society is good faith. This means that human beings have a basic concept of justice enabling them to
distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad.3

They found their unassailable starting point in the study of the nature of the law in the moral
nature and good faith of human beings. On this basis, human beings are able to live harmoniously with
one another.4

A. Socrates' Absolute Justice

He has two considerations which he inculcated in the minds of his students. The first is no
person is intentionally bad or evil because of the knowledge of justice. The second consideration that
he emphasized is that only the temperate person knows himself or herself and, thus, able to bring his or
her emotions under control.5

In the first consideration, Socrates drew a distinction between absolute knowledge of justice
(episteme) and mere opinion of justice ( doxa), prefering the former. In the second consideration he
explained that for him a temperate individual is a good, happy and sound person able to jude whether
his or her acts and their consequences would be just (virtuous) or unjust (vicious).6

He emphasized this two considerations exhibit the moral nature and good faith of a person,
guiding him or her even over the written statutes of the state.

Pascual, Carlito. Introduction to Legal Philosophy. 1994
B. Plato's Rational Justice

Plato taught his students that there is a hierarchy of reality and drew a sharp line beween ideal
reality and physical reality. He explained that apart from objects and entities that are observable to the
physical senses there exists another timeless dimension of reality. He gave the name “ideas” to this
other entities which have reality and distinctiveness in the mind or intellect. He assailed that the
physical reality is only a representation of the ideas by virtue of their relationship to them.7

In the same way, the idea of justice exists in the mind or intellect even though one does not see
rectitude in fact done or performed.. He posited the concept of justice yielding to the rational mind or
intellect of a person even though it may be contrary to his or her own judgement.

For Plato, human beings are capable of discerning justice from injustice. And, for him, rational
justice is sufficient to enable a person to attain his or her moral nature and good faith, and to keep his or
her self-respect by doing good and shunning evil.

In his de Repulblica, he posited justice as the central theme of his concept of the law. Rational
justice dictate that every individual in the state should attend to his or her own business in a certain
way. The individual has to keep his or her own role or position in order to preserve social peace and
harmony and prevent disturbance.

The virue of Plato's concept became its own defeat. It has been dicredited on the basis of the
ethical principle of meliorism, that is to say the inherent right of human beings to move on and better
the quality of their lives.

Pascual, Carlito. Introduction to Legal Philosophy. 1994
C. Aristotle's Practical Justice

Aristotle being a warm humanist differs to Socrates and Plato in many ways one of which is in
the concept of justice. He denied Socrate's concept of absolute justice as too exacting for it demanded
the kind of moral excellence which is the culmination of all virtues. He also did not agree with Plato's
concept of rational justice because it was still a subjective virue.8

For him, the concept of justice is nothing more that the virtue of “epiekeia”, justice which
grows out of the sense of fair equality. He said that justice is sound and sensible when, in light of
events and cricumstances, it is fair and equal. That a person cannot be unfairly or uneqqually treated
even with his or her consent because consent cannot justify an unfair or unequal treatment. Thus, for
Aristotle, the hallmark of a person's moral nature and good faith is fair equality.

He said that a person, after all, is curious of himself or herself as a human being, not as an angel
as Socrates and Plato had made a human being look like. A person is social in desposition that he needs
someone to do good as means of self expression and self-realization.

The author conculded that justice is a particular virtue not a universal ingredient in the
application of law in society.

D. Law as the Product of reason Related to Justice and Equity

To the greek philosophers, a thing is realized in its true nature when it is fully developed. In the
case of human beings' true nature , they do not only have nutritive soul( primitive state) but also a
rational soul (fulfilled reality). Thus man is a rational and free willing being. In the case of law, its
fulfilled reality is found in the realization of the precepts of the natural law in the legal order.

Pascual, Carlito. Introduction to Legal Philosophy. 1994
IV. The Roman Concept

The Roman jurisprudents subjected the nature of the law to technical annlysis and endorsed it
with their practical genius for colonization.

A. Cicero

Marius Tullius Cicero learned his law from Quintus Muscius Scaevola II who was a sincere
adherent of the Stoic school of philosophy. He brought the greek concept of the nature of the law into
contact with the Roman legal system at a time when there was a need for some means of controlling an
empire already extending arond and beyond the Medeterranean Bassin. He said that the law mus t be
based on the priciple of utility or the internst of the ruler and not for the interest of the governed
because humanking is governed naturally by utility. He intoduced compulsion as an element of law.
Thus law cannot be an effective means of control on the basis of rationality alone but must also be able
to compel obedience.9

B. Gaius

In his Institutes, Gaius advanced the view that the rules established by the citizens to govern
themselves fall under the jus civile, while the rules common to all other persons based on the natural
law are classified under the jus naturale. This view is evident in his work, the Institutes. For him, those
that are in derogation of the precepts of the natural law are not laws at all. If such laws exist it is
because the sanctions attached to them, not because they are laws. They do not contribute to the
maintenance and preservation of lawness. On the contrary, they are conducive to lawlessness.

In identifying this aberration in the legal order, Gaius advocated for a continuing process of
removing such unnatural laws. His idea was that law must be reexamined by the lawmaking body every
once in a while. This process would, then, provide the means for legal cleansing whereby any abnormality
or irregularity in the legal order could be adjusted to comply with the end and purpose of the law.

Pascual, Carlito. Introduction to Legal Philosophy. 1994