Natural Law

Natural Law

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Natural Law
Natural Law is deontological ­ concerned with the means to the end
Natural Law is absolute ­ it does not allow any exceptions to its rule and can
be applied universally
Natural Law is rooted in the philosophy of Aristotle. He believed that everything in life
serves a purpose and has an efficient and final cause. Efficient causes are the
things/processes (the tools used to create a wooden figure) by which things are
achieved, and the final cause is the end product (the wooden figure). For Aristotle,
everything has a telos or end purpose, and this determines it's `good.' If we can
understand the final cause of an organism we can understand the necessary
processes to reach this.
Thomas Aquinas took Aristotelian Philosophy and applied it to Christian Theology. He
argued that the telos of the world can be found in God (Beatitude). The world is the
creation of God and thus can reveal his purpose through reason and intellect. For
Aquinas, faith and reason together provide the best tools for living.
There are absolute laws, which govern the way the world works for example the law
of gravity. In the same way, Aquinas postulated that right and wrong, good and evil
follow a natural law, which we can discover through our reason and observation. For
Aquinas We are all driven to this by the SYNDERESIS RULE within us ­ do good and
avoid evil
Aristotle said everything has a state of potentiality and an actuality turning potentiality
into actuality is fulfilling a purpose and thus the essence of goodness.
Our potential is to reach the ultimate good, Aristotle's idea of Eudaimonia ­ our
ultimate aim. For Aquinas our Eudaimonia is Beatitude ­ oneness with God
The whole idea of law works on four levels:
1. Eternal Law ­ The order in the mind of God
2. Divine Law ­ The law given to people from God through the bible and the
teaching of the church
3. Natural Law ­ Intuitive sense of right and wrong discovered through conscience
4. Human Law ­ Rules made by Human societies in order for them to work
Each level of law depends on the levels above it, whilst eternal law does not depend
on anything because God exists necessarily
The Roman Catholic Church adopted the whole of Aquinas's thinking and today still
takes the same approach to religious questions.

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Primary Precepts = fundamental principles revealed by God
W orship God
O rdered society
R eproduce
L earn
D on't Die ­ Protect & preserve the self
, he starts from the belief that God exists.
Secondary precepts rules that will fulfil the requirements of the primary precepts.
e.g. Do not have an abortion
Do not commit suicide
Real and apparent goods ­ everyone tries to do good.…read more

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What happens when there is conflict between divine law and the reason? For
example, Jesus said turn the other cheek but natural law commands that you should
attempt to preserve your life.…read more


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