Strengths and weaknessess of Natural Law

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  • Strengths and weaknesses of Natural Law
    • Strengths
      • 1) Absolutist and deontological
        • Clear instructions that are easy to follow without confusion or 'grey areas'
          • This clear guidance allows a clear view of what is morally right and wrong, allowing uniformity in morality in communities.
        • For example, the secondary  precept 'do not abort' provides a straight answer for anyone seeking moral guidance
        • 'It enables people to establish common rules in order to structure communities' - Robert Bowie
      • 2) Based on rationality
        • As Aquinas' Natural Law is based on rationality, it is easily accessible to all people.
        • It encourages the removal of human emotion and encourages the use of reason to determine what is right and wrong.
        • Universally Applicable
        • 'Feelings can change but the issue of right and wrong remains fixed' - Mel Thompson
      • 3) Directs people to God and their purpose
        • By following Natural Law, the person has clear guidance as to what their purpose is and how to reach it.
        • Natural Law is based on God's divine will, not human law. For religious believers this makes Natural Law the perfect basis for morality, without dispute.
        • 'Natural Law directs people to their final destiny'- Robert Bowie
        • Through Natural Law, some religious believers can fulfil God's will and gain eternal life
    • Weaknessess
      • 1) Legalistic
        • The legalistic approach of Natural Law fails to consider the situation and the consequences of each action in terms of the situation
        • For example, abortion under the circumstances of rape is still wrong however the victim may not be capable to raise a child as it was not their choice.
        • Therefore, if Natural Law is followed a rigidly as Aquinas wanted, bad consequences could occur.
        • To add to this, the legalistic nature of Natural Law removes any self governance. As according to Aquinas, humans are obliged to follow rules, stripping them of any free choice.
      • 2) Not all rational people agree with Natural Law
        • For some people, the emotion of the person and those effected is the best way to determine morality, not reason
        • Reason seems like a uncompassionate method
        • For example, moral actions especially regarding children are sensitive issues that need to be approached with caution and compassion, not cold hearted reason.
      • 3) Unappealing and nonsensical to non religious belivers
        • As Natural law is based on God's law, a non believer will feel no need to follow Natural Law
        • Natural Law states that our purpose is to gain a 'right relationship' with God, however this would seem utterly wrong, therefore they would have no desire to follow Natural Law
        • If there is no religious destiny, Patrick J Clarke says NL 'ultimatley makes no sense'
  • Deontological: Morality is based on a human's duty to abide by rules
  • Legalistic: One must obey religious law to gain eternal life


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