Anti-Semitic Laws Challenged by the approach of John Finnis.

The Nazi race theories in the fascist regime are unjust because this regime violates many rights that individuals deserve to have. Nazi race theories made Hitler to create prosecution policies, genocide, racial extermination and utilized the ‘final solution’ to exterminate the Jewish population. Certainly, this regime is unfair because everything has to benefit the state, and absolutely nothing must be against the state. It becomes intolerable because individuals are not important, and are utilized to obey order without choices.

The laws of this legal system can be challenged by using the work of Finnis. Finnis would concentrate on its “legitimacy and whether it gives the common good” (Pavlich 36) for society because these laws did not provide a common good for everyone. He would examine to what extent it allows subjects to pursue the basic goods. However, this regime does not allow subjects to pursue the basic goods because the policies are not providing the choices. The valuing and transmission of life are violated because this regime killed and exterminated the Jewish population. However, the valuing and transmission of life was respected for individuals that were part of the perfect race. This law does not facilitate with the interest of common good for society, it violates the requirements that law serve the common good of all people in society. It only facilitated the interest of the perfect race. This regime is intolerable because uses individuals to act in favour of the regime itself and demands active participation and passive approval from individuals.

Law was misused by the leader and did not equally serve the population. This anti-Semitic law clearly violated Finni’s basic aspects of well being and the value of sociability that requires ‘a unity of common action’ and the formation of shared objectives that serve the population (Pavlich 36). Objectives were not shared and unity was destroyed  because Hitler wanted to eliminate Jewish population. The law was unjust because it does not provide the common good in society. This law presented pain and problems to all people. It destroyed many forms of “human flourishing” especially “sociability and friendship, across a social body” (36).  Finnis sees law as species of “legitimate rules emanating from a rule-bond authority working in the common good” (37) because the function of law is to shape and order human interaction. If a ruler’s law offends against the common good, “it forfeits a moral right to govern its subjects and justice is always about securing and nurturing that common good” (35) because these principles come from the theory of universal human good and it is necessary to secure it.

Finnis argued that a healthy community requires a common code of conduct that “orders and coordinates interactions to achieve a common good” (35) but the laws destroyed human interaction. In addition, these laws can be challenged by religion because religion was one of the main causes for these anti-Semitic laws.  Jewish people were killed and prosecuted for their religion because it played a major role in this legal system. However, Finnis disagrees with the idea that unjust laws should not be obeyed because sometimes “when an unjust law should be obeyed so as not to weaken the legal system overall” (Pavlich 36).


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One response to “Anti-Semitic Laws Challenged by the approach of John Finnis.

  1. The legal regime of Nazi Germany are certainly an appropriate topic for exploration, given this week’s food for thought question. In fact, Fuller’s debate with H.L.A. Hart over the legitimacy of Nazi-era laws is regarded as essential reading for students of legal positivism (and we will learn about this next week!).

    Your post would benefit from greater specificity, though. Which laws are you referring to? What made them anti-Semitic? Could you provide some details? During the Second World War, the German Reich suspended the pre-war constitution and instituted a range of emergency laws that facilitated the ‘final solution’. Many of these laws had to do with the stripping of legal and political status from target populations. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws provided the legal foundations for the official policies of anti-Semitism, defining ‘Jewish’ as a legal category distinct from German citizens, prohibiting the marriage between Jews and ‘German citizens’ (note the parallels with the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act), forbidding Jews from employing female citizens as domestic laborers, and prohibiting sexual relations between Jews and German citizens.

    Were you referring to a particular law or set of laws?

    Good application of Finnis to this topic.

    If this is an area of particular interest for you, I would recommend looking at Pavlich’s chapter on sovereignty, which is based in part on the work of Giorgio Agamben. Agamben’s book Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life uses Nazi camps as a case study in states of exception.