The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Natural Law
In Natural Law and Natural Rights, John Finnis delves into the past, attempting to revitalise the Thomist natural law tradition cut short by opposing philosophers such as David Hume. In this article, Finnis’s efforts at revival are assessed by way of comparison with—and, indeed, contrast to—the life and art of musician David Bowie. In spite of their extravagant differences, there exist significant points of connection that allow Bowie to be used in interpreting Finnis’s natural law. Bowie’s work—for all its appeals to a Nietzschean ground zero for normative values—shares Finnis’s concern with ordering affairs in a way that will realise humanity’s great potential. In presenting enchanted worlds and evolved characters as an antidote to all that is drab and pointless, Bowie has something to tell his audience about how human beings can thrive. Likewise, natural law holds that a legal system should include certain content that guides people towards a life of “flourishing”. Bowie and Finnis look to the past, plundering it for inspiration and using it as fuel to boost humankind forward. The analogy of Natural Law and Natural Rights and Bowie’s magpie-like relationship to various popular music traditions ultimately reveals that natural law theory is not merely an objective and unchanging edict to be followed without question, but a legacy that is to be recreated by those who carry it into the future. Law’s instruments of critique must not forget these transformative qualities.
International Journal for the Semiotics of Law
This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.
Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation