Natural Law

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  • Natural Law
    • first put forward by ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC)
      • teleological view of the world
      • everything has a telos (end/purpose)
      • the supreme/ highest good for all things, including humans, is to fullfil this telos, e.g. a kife's telos is to cut
      • the task of ethics is to answer the question- how should we live?
        • The purpose of human beings according to Aristotle? To FLOURISH
          • he called this 'eudaimonia'
            • not just about personal pleasure
              • about a whole life, well lived, not just for your own benefit but also that of others
      • humans are rational creatures, so by using reason we can work out the right way to behave
        • "the law is reason in agreement with nature" - Cicero
    • championed by ST THOMAS AQUINAS (1224-1274)
      • a monk-turned scholar
      • absolute deontological view
      • believes in God
      • "do good and avoid evil"
      • his beliefs
        • God- creator of the world
        • humans are made 'imago dei'
        • God knew what humans would be like before he created them; "essence before existance"
        • humans are rational- they have the ability to reason
        • humans are created out of nothing - 'ex nihilo'
      • how do humans know what God intends?
        • 1. Eternal Law
          • The principles by which God made and controls the universe which are only fully known by God.
            • We only know these as 'reflections'; in other words, we have only a partial and approximate understanding of the laws which govern the universe
        • 2. Divine Law
          • this is the Bible, which Aquinas believes 'reflects' the Eternal Law of God
        • 3. Natural Law
          • the theory that an eternal, absolute moral law can be discovered by reason
        • 4. Human Law
          • the laws set by humans, e.g. it's illegal to have multiple wives or incite racial hatre
        • Preserve Life
          • abortions are wrong
          • murder is wrong
        • Ordered Society
          • having laws and rules (e.g. fraud is illegal)
          • having a punishment system to enforce the rules
        • Worship God
          • go to Church regularly
          • pray God regularly
        • Education
          • free education
          • scholarships
        • Reproduction
          • contraception is wrong
          • abortion is wrong
        • Primary Precepst are absolute; they never change. If we live following these precepts, we will flourish (eudaimonia) as we have lived as God intended
      • The Secondary Precepts change and adapt


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