Natural Law: Primary and Secondary Precepts

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  • Created on: 18-02-13 17:52
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Natural Law: Primary and Secondary precepts
So that 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. Ordered society
3. Worshipping God
4. Education
5. Reproduction
These primary precepts are absolute and never change. From these, we are able to deduce
secondary precepts ­ which are practical human rules applied to issues in our society. For example, if
the primary precept is Preservation of Life, then it follows that Natural Law would forbid abortion as
this halts a potential of life.
The secondary precepts are a bit more relative, as they can be interpreted differently by different
people, which makes this part of Natural Law slightly more flexible.
Primary Precepts Possible secondary precepts for society
Preservation of Don't commit suicide
Life Do not murder
Do not abort foetuses
Ordered society Treat people equally
Do not lie
Work together
Worshipping God Pray
Follow God's rules (e.g. Ten Commandments)
Follow teachings of the Bible
Education Free education
Make school compulsory
Give all children an equal chance
Reproduction Don't use contraception
Don't abort foetuses
Agrees with right to a child
Aquinas said that each precept, both primary and secondary, is part of a path towards the ultimate
purpose of life.


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