Christian Ethos as an Axiological Basis of European Law
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European law, European values, Christian ethos, European Union

How to Cite

Nesprava, M. (2019). Christian Ethos as an Axiological Basis of European Law. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, (1-2), 141-158.


The purpose of the paper is to reveal the role of Christian values in the creating of European law system. The author relied on the opinion that, in a broad general sense, European law is a complex of legal systems, united by the common cultural and civilization tradition of Europe. In a narrower concrete sense, European law means, in the first, as the supranational legal basis of the European Union, and as the acts of the Council of Europe too. European law is based on humanistic European values such as human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; they are based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. European values have their own sources in the biblical commandments. Christian ethos as a special spiritual and ethical system, which determines humanistic world perceptions and active orientations of individuals and social groups, designed the basis of these values. Love and charity are the fundamental principles of the Christian ethos, and nonviolence and forgiveness of sins are its specific features. The role of moral norms in the formation of law system was considered by many philosophers, but the most grounded arguments in favor of the priority of Christian ethos are contained in the concepts of Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant. Aquinas proved this through the category of cardinal virtue - justice, and through the invented phenomenon of natural law. Kant, proceeding from the categorical imperative formulated by him, logically argued the need for the existence of Rechtsstaat as a guarantor of the balance of human rights and freedoms with responsibility and duty as higher Christian virtues. The author shows that every historical stage of Christian ethos development has contributed some innovations into the formation of European law: through philosophical and theological conceptions, through canonical norms, through the Protestant principles of individual freedom, but the gospel commandments, which have a pronounced humanistic character, have always remained the main. The Christian spirit lies in the constituent documents and the main legal acts of the EU and the Council of Europe, even if they declare freedom of religion. Thus, it can be considered proven that the Christian ethos constitutes the axiological basis of European law. But in recent years, the basic values inherent in the Christian etos in Europe have begun to erupt. It means that the soil leaves the underlying foundation of the European law system. Losing support, the entire building of the European Union began to shake. In order to relieve tension in society and revive the attractive energy of the legal system, first of all, the Lisbon Treaty as a small constitution of the EU, it is necessary to return the axiological basis - the Christian ethos - to its legal area. The definition of the axiological basis of European law have fundamental importance for the scientific substantiation of its moral content and for the decision about the prospects of its further development in the new socio-political conditions, as well as the practical improvement of the basic provisions of EU law. Understanding the moral basis of European law will also help to direct law-making activity in Ukraine towards approximation of Ukrainian law with the standards of the European Union more efficiently.
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