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ALODIA EUNICIA O.

CASTILLO

PHL 5

Divine Law
Divine law, in its general sense, pertains to the entire system of faultlessness and perfection that
God has initiated to govern the whole of creation, both living and non- living. The laws of nature
and all other laws, therefore, would fall under divine law as it encompasses and governs not only
human actions but also the entire universe. The blowing of the wind in whichever direction,
violent strikes of lightning, the deafening roar of thunder, heavy rains and thunderstorms, the
heat of the sun, among others, are manifestations of divine law.
In its stricter sense, however, divine law encompasses the dogmas of religious faith that give
emphasis on the reparation of sins and salvation, life, death and life after death, heaven and hell,
soul, purgatory and eternity. The canons of divine law are usually embodied in religious doctrines
and writings of different sects and religious denominations. For Christians, the Holy Bible,
consisting of the old and new testaments, contains the divine law. Similarly, the divine law is
embodied in the Koran, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and other religious doctrines.
Unlike an ordinary rule of action, divine law is absolute. What is peculiar about it is that mere
intent or thought of violating it would be tantamount to transgressing it. Hence, even if you do
not translate your evil thought into action, there is a great probability that you are committing a
sin.

Natural Law
The traditional view developed by classical theorists regards natural law as the unwritten law
permeating and governing nature as rational harmony and orderly pattern of different things and
events without which the latter would be reduced to chaos and disarray. Note that this
conception disregards the existence of God as the Supreme Being who, according to divine law,
initiated the faultless sequencing of things and events. The notion of natural law in this sense,
therefore, is intertwined not with divine law but with the laws of nature.
Plato, the philosopher, distinguished natural law from the merely legal, which, according to him is
an imperfect representation of the law. What is legal is not inherently and naturally just,
according to Plato; it becomes thus the only because it was enacted and institutionalized by
society. On the other hand, natural law, like divine law, is absolute and cannot be abrogated by
human acts, unlike legal law.
Plato likewise regards natural law as a discipline that every human being must observe and
adhere to so that the individual and the common good may be realized or attained. The precepts
of natural law are righteousness, justice, equity and fairness. From these precepts, the principles
of law are derived. The laws that govern computing may very well be considered as being
derived from natural law. This is because computer abuse, piracy, plagiarism, and pornography
are human actions that violate righteousness, justice, equity and fairness.
Epictetus, another Greek philosopher, believed that natural law refers not only to the extrinsic or
outward order of things and events as physically observed, but also to the inner and inherent
nature of people as rational beings. The latter conception of natural law emphasizes that people,
by nature, have the capacity for goodness, righteousness, justice, equity.
If you are fond of cartoons and have watched Shaman King, you will recall that the main
character of the series, Master Yo, firmly believes that every person is good. Master Yos calm
and unruffled disposition always wins the respect and admiration of his friends and even his
opponents in Shaman fights, and he can transform and tame even the fiercest of his enemies.
We cite this example because in Epictetuss sense of natural law, goodness is considered as a
natural and inherent attribute of human beings. Following this notion, computer users or

ALODIA EUNICIA O. CASTILLO

PHL 5

computer professionals are presumed to have the integrity and discipline, the innate goodness
that is expected of human beings in general.

Moral Law
We sometimes confuse moral law with divine law and natural law. They are, however, different.
As already discussed in the earlier part of this module, divine law, in its strict sense, pertains to
the law of religious faith. On the other hand, though concerned with precepts of good and
virtuous conduct, moral law is definitely not religious. Relative to natural law, moral law has
ethics as its foundation, while the first is founded on metaphysics.
Moral law consists of moral norms that ascertain and dictate what sort of behavior or conduct
may or may not be expressed; or what sort of acts may or may not be performed within a
particular community. It is the realm of generally recognized and desirable ethical norms and
principles that control and rule human conduct. It is a system of unwritten ordering principles
based on good and virtuous conduct that governs human actions.
The following are examples of human actions in computing that are considered as complaint with
moral norms:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Respect for the rights of owners of intellectual property


Fidelity in the utilization of information
Compliance with computer norms and laws
Honesty in the sharing of information (specifically in chat rooms)
Integrity in creating computer programs
Condemnation of computer crimes and abuses

Physical Law
Physical law, or law of nature, is sometimes confused with natural law (which we discussed
earlier). The two are not the same. The apparent resemblance of natural law and laws of nature
(physical law) is grounded on their correlation with ordering sequences and uniformities of
distinct things and occurrences that are relied upon as being constant and regular.
Human beings and other living creatures observe the order of sequence and uniformities
involved in the operation of nature. Natural occurrences and phenomena are constant and
regular, and can thus be depended upon as physical law. The main characteristic of physical law
is regularity and imperativeness. It is regular because once it becomes operative, its efficacy
remains constant and unbreakable. It is imperative because it is permanent and unchangeable.
Now what does this have to do with laws governing computers? Well, you might say that physical
law works in a way that is analogous to what is described below:
If you click the file menu of your personal computer (PC), what would be displayed will be the
applications exclusively belonging to that particular command. If you click F1, or the help menu
?, a help feature will show up to answer your queries, and not any other application. In all
computer programs, F1 means help. Similarly, if you click the font color icon, a colors display will
appear and not anything else. Using the computer keyboard in writing, what will appear on the
screen will be the letter keys that you hit. Thus, if you hit caps lock a, or shift a, the capital letter

ALODIA EUNICIA O. CASTILLO

PHL 5

A will register on the computer monitor. The computers execution of any application follows the
users command. This is permanent and unchangeable.
Remember that without constancy, regularity, uniformity and imperativeness, an occurrence or
corporeal phenomena cannot be regarded as physical law, or a law of nature.