Natural Moral Law

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  • Created by: Beth Lee
  • Created on: 19-03-15 08:59
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  • Natural Law.
    • Key Scholar
      • Aquinas
        • "Summa Theologica"
        • There is a moral code towards which human beings naturally incline, and this he calls Natural Moral Law.
        • Natural Law is...
          • Accessible through the natural order
          • Universal
          • Unchanging
          • For all time
          • Relevant to all circumstances given by God
          • Perceived by all human beings, although only believers in God acknowledge that it has implications for them beyond the grave.
        • Precepts
          • 1. Preservation of Life
            • -Do not murder - Do not abort - No euthanasia
          • 2. Reproduction
            • - No contraception - Do not abort
          • 3. Education
            • - Stay in school - Learn from mistakes - Gain skills
          • 4. Living in society
            • - Respect the law - Respect elders - Be sensitive to others
          • 5. Worshipping God
            • - Respect creation - Go to church
              • Eudaimonia
                • The supreme good
                  • Personal flourishing and flourishing of society.
                    • The ultimate end or telos is to be with God and like God.
                • Cannot be achieved without developing Virtues
                  • Prudence
                  • Justice
                  • Fortitude
                  • Temperance
                  • Vices (seven deadly sins)
                    • Pride
                    • Avarice
                    • Lust
                    • Envy
                    • Gluttony
                    • Wrath
                    • Sloth
                  • 4 Cardinal Virtues: the four humans qualities that reflect the moral life.
          • All things must operate in accordance with the primary precepts to which humans are naturally inclined
          • God gives humans the power of reason to accomplish these purposes, whether they believe in him or not
          • Everything is created to a particular design and for a particular purpose; fulfilling that purpose is the 'good' towards which everything aims.
            • Eudaimonia
              • The supreme good
                • Personal flourishing and flourishing of society.
                  • The ultimate end or telos is to be with God and like God.
              • Cannot be achieved without developing Virtues
                • Prudence
                • Justice
                • Fortitude
                • Temperance
                • Vices (seven deadly sins)
                  • Pride
                  • Avarice
                  • Lust
                  • Envy
                  • Gluttony
                  • Wrath
                  • Sloth
                • 4 Cardinal Virtues: the four humans qualities that reflect the moral life.
    • Deontological
      • Concerned solely with the intrinsic nature of the act itself.
    • Absolutist
      • Affirms the principle that there is only one correct answer to every problem, regardless of culture, time, situation, sentiment, etc.
    • Strengths
      • NML is a simple, universal guide for judging the moral value of human actions, because moral law is made accessible by our reason.
      • NML contrasts with the view of morality that states that it is just a matter of what people's personal preferences and inclinations.
      • NML operates without the need to consider possible consequences or outcomes prior to a moral decision being made. It is based on reason and is not dependent upon the feelings of the person concerned.
      • NML seems obvious and reasonable - it seems 'natural' for us to care about other people, animals and the environment and we often feel happier in ourselves for doing so.
      • NML is not just an opinion, it asserts that there is an absolute authoritative code of moral behaviour which all must follow. There is no need for indecisiveness.
    • Weaknesses
      • Atheists would challenge the religious assumptions underpinning Natural Law - all men seek to worship God and that God created the universe and the moral law within it.
      • Procreation - by giving pride of place to reproduction as one of the common, universal aims of humankind, Aquinas opens up thorny issue of homosexuals (what if homosexuality is genetically explained and therefore 'natural'?)
      • Functionalism - Aquinas thinks of every individual and every part of every individual as having a particular function to fulfil. This goes against the 'portfolio' thinking of modern times, by which we recognise the variety of functions that people can fulfil.
      • Antiquated and rigid - there is no room for situationism, relativism, consequentialism or individualism. Ideas about what is 'natural' differ between cultures and generations.
      • Creationist - Aquinas makes no room for evolutionary change, but suggests that human beings and human nature have remained the same since creation. Darwin's evolutionary theory suggests that living things are motivated by the selfish motive of survival.
        • not only have we evolved and therefore are not the deliberate will of God, but humans are fundamentally self-interested and not naturally inclined to the good.
      • Often considered too simplistic as humans do not have a fixed understanding of human nature.
      • Consequences can be morally questionable due to the slavish adherence to dogmatic beliefs9spread of AIDS due to not permitting contraception)
      • It is not easily used when considering complex issues (should more money be spent on schools or hospitals?)
    • Teleological
      • Something is good if it fulfils its natural end purpose.
        • NL is based on human reason rather than divine revelation, reason is paramount in defining the good.
    • Naturalistic
      • Based on the premise that we can observe rational people doing good and there is a basis for a natural view of goodness.
    • Antecedents
      • Plato
        • Countered the relativism of Sophists by arguing that goodness consists in living a life in accord with our rational nature and not in thoughtless conformity.
      • Aristotle
        • All things have a purpose, revealed in its design or natural "form".
          • That purpose can be understood through an examination of the natural and accepted that all things have an efficient, formal and final cause and there is therefore a purpose behind everything.
    • Double effect
      • NML is absolutist in that the primary precepts are objectively true for everyone.
        • To solve this problem the doctrine of double effect was devised.
      • Causistry is the name given to the process of applying NML principles to specific situations.
        • This is done in a logical way as some principles have logical consequences.
      • There are times when we have moral dilemmas in which we cannot do good without a bad consequence.
      • It is always wrong to do a bad act intentionally in order to bring about a good consequence.
      • However, it is sometimes right to do a good act despite knowing that it will bring about unintended bad consequences.
        • It is always wrong to do a bad act intentionally in order to bring about a good consequence.

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