Natural Moral Law

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  • Natural Moral Law
    • basis
      • there is an objectively ideal way to be human
        • if we reach the ideal we will be completely happy and will achieve our maximum physical, mental and spiritual health
          • applies to us both as individuals and as human communities
    • Thomas Aquinas
      • universe was created by God
        • everything has a design and a purpose
          • could be found in the natural world and a study of scriptures
            • humanity was given reason and freedom to choose to follow the good, which is God's purpose for them
              • this is Moral Natural Law
      • Summa Theologica
        • natural moral law is
          • universal, unchanging and for all time
          • relevant to all circumstance
          • given by God
          • visible to all human beings
          • inspired by the Bible
        • natural moral law guides humanity in 5 ways
          • live
          • reproduce
          • learn
          • worship God
          • ordered society
      • secondary precepts
        • guide people towards rightful actions and away from wrongful ones
          • based on two principles
            • dictates of reason should be self evident
              • e.g. worship God / do not murder
                • dictates must be observed by all humans under all circumstance if moral order is to be maintained
            • more complex dictates which come from human reason aided by God's law
              • reason alone cannot discover them from nature
                • e.g. marital faithfulness
      • claimed (in relation to purpose)
        • God gave humanity reason to accomplish these purposes
        • everything is created for a particular purpose
        • fulfilment is the 'good' towards which everyone aims
          • any action that takes a person closer to this goal is good
            • any action that takes a person further away is wrong
        • reason should always be the guide in time of conflict
          • natural moral law therefore depends upon reason as well as nature
        • it is made known to humans by God's revelation which guides reason
          • everyone has a purpose specific to them that can fulfil the skills and talents given to them by God
      • 4 cardinal values (fundamental qualities of a good moral life)
        • prudence
        • justice
        • fortitude
        • temperance
      • 7 vices (7 deadly sins which would lead people away from the natural moral law
        • pride
        • avarice
        • lust
        • envy
        • gluttony
        • anger
        • sloth
      • 4 kinds of law
        • eternal
          • God's will and wisdom and rational ordering of the universe
        • divine
          • given in scripture and guides humans to happiness
        • natural
          • source of fulfilment on earth
        • human
          • regulates human behaviour in society, and is exercised through the state
      • assumptions
        • all people seek to worship God
        • god created the universe and the moral law within it
        • every individual has a particular purpose
        • since moral laws come from God, all humans should obey it
        • human nature has remained the same since creation
      • weaknesses
        • assumes everyone seeks to worship God
        • assumes God created the universe and the moral law within it
        • thinks of every person having a particular function to fulfil
          • against modern view that a person may have a variety of functions
        • commits naturalistic fallacy
          • moral law comes from God (a matter of fact in his thinking) and therefore we ought to obey it (a value judgement)
    • Bernard Hoose
      • proportionalism
        • not every moral value is absolute, it can be linked to circumstance
        • supports compromise
          • the best human beings can strive to achieve is a moral compromise, not moral perfection
            • sense of proportion - to d the best we can but accept we will never truly be morally perfect
        • more compassionate than a strict application
          • allows individuals circumstance to be taken into account
        • argue allows too much freedom to decide what is good and permits rejection of established moral codes
    • strengths
      • simple, universal guide for judging moral value of human actions
      • made accessible by human reason
      • morality is more than a matter of preference and inclinations
    • weaknesses
      • depends on accepting the view that good is what is found in nature
        • is everything in nature 'good'? what about disease?
      • no room for
        • situationism
          • adapting ethical principles to the situation
        • relativism
          • right and wrong depends upon interpretated and social custom
        • consequentialism
          • determining right and wrong from consequence of actions
        • individualism
          • many different ideas of 'good' because there are so many different people

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