Evaluation of Natural Law

  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 23-03-14 16:35
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  • Evaluating Natural Law
    • Enables people to establish common rules to structure communities
    • Aquinas' view of reason as a tool for moral understanding and idea of common nature and morality for all
      • Gives Natural Law a universiality beyond religion and culture
        • Attractive in a world with many religions and cultures, suffering from intercultural disharmony
        • Different cultures have same basic principles of primary precepts
    • Gives reason to be moral and absolute
    • Considerable proportion of human population still believes in God
    • Justification and support for core ideas popular in modern times, such as human rights and equality
    • Not just a set of rules but a way of life - links questions of how to live to fundamental principles of life
      • Complete system of moral living
    • Is there a single, common and apparent natural law?
    • Can day to day rules be deduced from his primary precepts?
    • Kai Neilson
      • 'from the point of view of science, there is no such thing as an essential human nature...'
        • Is there a single, common and apparent natural law?
      • Eskimos used to kill family members in winter and newborn girls without husbands
        • Differing moral standards challenge idea of common natural law in all societies
          • 'from the point of view of science, there is no such thing as an essential human nature...'
      • Humans have different or changeable natures - variety of sexual orientations
        • Aquinas would say their acts are unnatural as they can't lead to new life
      • Peter Vardy and Paul Grosch 'the puzzle of ethics'
        • Question way in which Aquinas works from general principles to lesser purposes
        • Sexual acts could be justified due to benefits to a couple's relationship
        • Aquinas' deductions could be wrong as they may be based on an incorrect view of human life
        • Consider Aquinas' moral view of human nature to be unholistic - sexual activity is not only found in genitalia
      • It's a Christian ethic but Jesus opposes legalistic morality in the New Testament
        • Debated sharply with moral legalists of the time, the Pharisees yet Natural Law appears similar to Pharisaic law
          • Joseph Fletcher said Jesus rejected this approach
      • Kevin T Kelly
        • Two traditions in Christian morality - one centred on acts and the other on dignity of the human person
          • Roman Catholic Church 'the moral asoect of any procedure is influenced by intentions and motives but also objective standards, based on the nature of the human person and his acts'
          • Kelly argues for a morality based on the human as author and director of actions - away from intrinsic value of actions
            • More extreme form of personalism is found in Situation Ethics where situation and results determine goodness or badness
      • Given these Criticisms:
        • Natural Law may not be as rigid as it first appears - secondary precepts may change in some aspects or in special cases
        • Roman Catholic Church's prohibition of artificial contraception and homosexual acts may be challengeable in some special cases


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