“The Rule of Law as the Rule of Reason”
Law, as Aquinas defines it, is "a rule and measure of acts, whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting. " Through the examination of the writings by Aquinas and Aristotle, it is evident that both philosophers strongly believe that law is derived from reason, and only through reason, can laws be just. When comparing the two Creon characters to one another (in Sophocles’s Antigone and in Anouilh’s Antigone), it is apparent that both rule with a lack of reason and therefore would be considered tyrants in the eyes of both Aristotle and Aquinas.
In order to explain what is meant by reason as its role in law each philosopher takes a different approach. Aristotle doesn’t explicitly go into his explanation of reason, but rather uses the revealed preferences of ones actions to show what he meant by reason. More specifically, Aristotle refers to the “telos” as the reason behind each action one takes. This is where Aquinas takes it one step further and uses religion and the love of God to explain reason. Law is derived from, as Aquinas points out in his writings, the word ligare meaning "to bind." Laws are rules meant to bind individuals to certain actions. The idea that reason is the rule of human actions comes from Aristotle, as he argues that all actions are "thought to aim at some good." Aquinas furthers this idea to explain human actions. Essentially, actions are taken for some purpose or end. That end is expected to be good, because if it was not, the action would not have been taken. Therefore, since actions are taken according to reason, that which guides actions also must be taken according to reason. This idea is presented by Aquinas when he states,
"Now the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts, as is evident from what has been stated above. For it belongs to the reason to direct to the end, which is the first principle in all matters of action,...