Publication Date

Spring 2014


Helms School of Government


Government: Pre-Law


Nuremberg Trials, Natural Law, Legal Positivism


International Law | Jurisprudence | Natural Law



The purpose of this thesis is to explore how a natural law based jurisprudential philosophy would have proved superior to the Austinian legal positivist prepositions that the Allies worked from in the Nuremberg Trials. This is achieved through defining natural law as it was classically understood by its historical advocates such as Thomas Aquinas and Sir William Blackstone. Natural law’s applicability to the Trials builds off the principles articulated by those writers. In the process of making this determination, as to why natural law represents a viable jurisprudential idea, this paper addresses the fundamental conflict between natural law and legal positivism as articulated by John Austin, and positivism’s subsequent influences upon the defense and the Allies in their attempts to prosecute the Nazi leaders at Nuremberg.