Virginia Lawyer

VaLawyer_Apr 2014

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30 An Underlying Order From ancient conjurers to modern scien- tists, those claim ing to understand the nature of matter and energy of ten refer to their conclusions as "laws." Why would they do that? Newton's Law of Gravity, for example, could just as easily be called the gravity principle or Newton's axiom. Even so, scientists instinctively use the argot of lawyers and judges. I think they do so be cause law represents order, and order law. Physi cist Stephen Hawking reminds us that "ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an under- standing of the underlying order in the world." 2 It is for this reason we lawyers can say that "the Sparks of all [the] Sciences in the world are raked up in the ashes of the Law." 3 For similar reasons, I wonder whether raking through the ashes of science (as well as some of its white hot coals) might reveal symmetries that reinforce our understanding of law. The parallels between sci- ence and law reveal the interwoven nature of the created order. Although neither, standing alone, claims to have produced a unified explanation of every thing, viewed together they provide allegor- ical parallels between what we think we know about nature (science) and what we think we know about man (law). The early common-law ju rists thought this way. Even before the admixture of Reformation and Enlightenment influences, the common-law tradition we inherited assumed the laws of science naturally led to an understanding of the laws of men. 4 In Judge Henry Bracton's thirteenth-cen- tury treatise, the first true attempt to synthe size English common law, he defined jurisprudence as simply "the science of the just and un just." 5 Explaining the point further, Sir William Blackstone argued in his famous Commentaries that the elemental laws of physics provide the starting point in our effort to under stand the laws of men: Law, in its most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action, and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or in animate, rational or irrational. Thus we say, the laws of mo tion, of gravitation, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of nature and of nations. And it is that rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and which the infe rior is bound to obey. 6 Finding the same sense of order underlying the laws of men, Blackstone recognized free will as one of the intrinsic design features of the "noblest of all sublunary beings." 7 This, then, is the general signi fication of law; a rule of action dictated by some superior be - ing, and, in those creatures that have neither the power to think, nor to will, such laws must be invariably obeyed . . . . But laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, de - VIRGINIA LAWYER | April 2014 | Vol. 62 | GENERAL INTEREST FEATURES The Laws of Physics and the Physics of Laws by D. Arthur Kelsey 1 April2014VL_vl0414 4/2/14 5:28 PM Page 30

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