It is appropriate to call Finnis' approach to life as an incommensurable basic human good a natural law approach. It suggests that there is more to life than just an accumulation of wealth, happiness, value, etc. There is something about life that we cannot value, that we cannot measure, that we cannot fathom, that is mysterious. While contract and even some tort law are readily adaptable to arguments of economic efficiency, there are areas where such arguments do not belong. Specifically, where the end result cannot be measured because the values at stake are incommensurable, there may be no best answer in a conflictive situation with differing alternatives. There can only be a best means to possibly several different end results. The death of another must be a side effect of the act seeking to save life, and, if a choice is made that results in the death of one, it must be made fairly. This approach makes sense when viewed from within the experience of the act itself. It is also the view adopted in Holmes and Dudley & Stevens in two of the very rare instances such cases have come before the courts. These cases affirm that lives should not be ascribed values that can be added or subtracted for a best end result. It is the means and not the end that determines the justification for human action.


Natural Law Symposium: Natural Law and Legal Reasoning