Strengths and Weaknesses of natural law

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  • Created on: 12-04-14 18:18
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Natural Law
Strengths Weaknesses
Rational ­ Natural Law uses practical reason, it is a Too simplistic - Humans do not have a single `fixed'
common-sense approach. human nature.
God - Doesn't require belief in God, as it is based on God - Requires belief in God, as it relies on a God-
empirical observations of our nature. given purpose
Objective ­ Natural Law gives us rules that are true Outcomes - Leads to immoral outcomes e.g. not
independently of our individual thoughts and allowing contraception led to spread of AIDS and
desires. overpopulation in Africa
Purpose - The world has meaning, purpose and Purpose - The idea of `purpose' in nature can be
values. explained by science (evolution and natural
Flexible - allows for secondary precepts to vary Cultural Relativism - Neilsen questions the
according to culture, as they are the practical unchanging nature of Primary Precepts in Natural
working out of the universal primary precepts. Law, using Cultural Relativism. Gareth Moore
argues our nature is a product of culture and
Double Effect - gets around problems of conflicting Double Effect - brings in consequentialism through
secondary precepts. the back door. You are allowed to do some terrible
things because of double effect, and at other times
you can't do really helpful things.
Instinctive - Natural Law's rules are in line with our Agape - Jesus was opposed to legalism, and broke
instincts and intuitions. rules in order to do the most loving thing.
Virtues - Focuses on human virtues and excellence ­ Too optimistic - It has a too optimistic view of
the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, human nature. Augustine disagrees (original sin), as
temperance, fortitude, and theological virtues of does Calvin (total depravity).
faith, hope and charity
Thriving - Helps humans achieve health, happiness, Unholistic - Vardy/Grosh ­ Aquinas' view of human
friendship etc. nature is unholistic and over-simplified
All-encompassing - There are issues not covered in Unreliable - Scripture is more reliable than reason,
the Bible such as Genetics. as reason leads to corruption.
Human dignity - Values human life highly. Consequences - Doesn't consider consequences.
(Bernard Hoose and Proportionalism).
Human Rights - Protects the absolute nature of Conflicting rules - As with any absolutist theory,
Human Rights. what if two universal rules come into conflict with
each other?
Reliable - Predicting consequences is not reliable. Impractical - Predicting consequences works, and is
Natural Law gives us rules that we see in societies the best way of deciding what will do the most
throughout the whole world e.g. Do not kill. good.
Absolute - Our `post-modern', secular society has Out-dated - Natural Law is stuck in the past,
lost all sense of objective values and truth. Pope enforcing traditional views that are out of touch
Benedict calls this the `dictatorship of relativism'. with 21st century society. This leads to homophobia,
intolerance of other cultures etc.
Autonomy - Natural Law allows the individual, using Naturalistic Fallacy - how we are is not the same as
reason, to work out for themselves what is how we ought to be. Just because sex produces
objectively right and true, not relying on religious babies, this doesn't mean that every act of sex ought
authority, scripture or tradition. to be open to procreation.


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