Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This essay appears in a book celebrating Lon Fuller's contributions to jurisprudence. I argue that Fuller's conception of secular natural law, designated as an "internal morality of law," lends welcome assistance to the effort to articulate a new direction in legal philosophy. I defend Fuller's natural-law approach from the common misinterpretations that it is either a hollow echo of the natural law tradition or an essentialist conception of law at odds with the legal-realist world that he helped to create with his doctrinal scholarship. By reading his famous, "The Case of the Speluncean Explorers," in a new light, I contend that Fuller's natural-law approach is best understood as an attempt to outline the social framework in which acquiring legal knowledge – defined not as the technical mastery of doctrine or the rationalistic apprehension of conceptual verities, but rather as a rhetorical-hermeneutical event that is a social achievement – is possible.

Publication Citation

Mootz III, Francis Joseph, Natural Law and the Cultivation of Legal Rhetoric (1999). REDISCOVERING FULLER: ESSAYS ON IMPLICIT LAW AN INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN, Willem J. Witteveen, Wibren van der Burg, eds., Amsterdam University Press, 1999.