Natural Law - Primary and Secondary Precepts

Aquinas' Primary and Secondary Precepts 

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Primary and Secondary Precepts
So people could live in a civilised society where everybody is free to survive and grow, Aquinas set
out five primary precepts:
1. Preservation of Life
2. Worshipping God
3. Living in a society
4. Reproduction
5. Educating the young
The five basic principles of Aquinas's natural law
Basically... 'Do good, avoid evil'
They can all be developed into secondary precepts, which are just practical human rules, which direct
our daily behaviour.
Primary Precepts Possible secondary precepts for society
Preservation of Life Not committing suicide
Do not murder
Not cutting off life support machines
Worshipping God Hold school assemblies
Set aside days where you can worship God
Follow his word
Living in Society Build more homes
Encourage community activities (youth clubs, bake sales ect.)
Reproduction Do not use contraception
Educating the Young Free education
Making school compulsory
Giving all children a chance
These are the rules ­ absolute deontological principles ­ that are copied from the Primary Precepts.
For example, the teleological principle ­ `Protect and preserve the innocent' leads to rules such as
`Do not abort', `Do not commit euthanasia' ect. These rules can't be broken, doesn't matter what the
consequence, because they are absolute laws.
Aquinas said that each precept, both primary and secondary, is part of a path towards the ultimate
purpose of life.
To get to the secondary precepts, you have to reason what would be an essential route to a primary


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