Strengths and Weaknesses of Aquinas' Natural Law

  • Created by: CG24601
  • Created on: 12-05-19 09:41
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  • Strengths of Natural Law
    • based on what it means to be human - acting in line with our natural inclinations
      • when applied, this assumes the special status of human beings
    • reveals a universal law and so it is not culturally relative - the primary precepts are common to all
      • application to a moral issue is the same regardless of who or where you are
    • appeals to common sense and does not always rely on religion
      • provides a clear basis for morality - there is an authority and a clear justification for actions allowed and it is clear how Natural Law is applied
    • judges the intrinsic value of actions regardless of outcomes - its the action itself that determines whether an act is moral
      • avoids the problem of apparent goods with evil intentions - the theory does not here identify this act as good
    • application seems clear even when there appears to be a conflict
      • application of the primary precepts is easy, and the doctrine of double effects allows for possible conflicts
    • encourages virtuous behaviour i.e. love, wisdom, justice and temperance
      • valuable in any society
  • Weaknesses of Natural Law
    • naturalistic fallacy
      • unreasonable to expect someone who doesn't believe in a moral God to accept that human nature has moral authority
      • there seems to be a mistake in reasoning in identifying morality with another concept
    • does an action being 'natural' simply mean an action common to a particular group
    • is there really a common human nature
      • different cultures have different ideas
        • the gays, women, slavery etc.
          • if there is a universal, unchanging human nature and a Natural Law that stems from it, how come we have gotten so much wrong in the past
    • if there is a universal, unchanging human nature and a Natural Law that stems from it, how come we have gotten so much wrong in the past
    • does the doctrine of double effect work?
      • if the outcome can be foreseen, then surely the result is intended

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