• Created by: emmalum
  • Created on: 06-02-19 10:17

Aqunas' primary and secondary precepts

The primary precepts are:

  • Preservation of life
  • Procreation
  • Advancement of knowledge
  • Living in a peaceful community
  • Worship of God

The secondary precepts are any rules derived from the primary precepts (for example, you shouldn't kill as it harrms the preservation of life principle)

Doctrine of the double effect is having to disobey one of the precepts in order to obey another (for example, a woman may have to have an abortion (harming procreating precept) so that she can recieve treatment for an illness (obeying the preservation of life precept)

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Real and apparent goods, interior and exterior act

Real and apparent goods- An action may seem good to someone but it isn't necessarily a good thing (for example, Hitler believed killing millions of Jews was a good thing to do but we know that it is very bad)

Interior and exterior acts- You can do a good act for the wrong reasons (help an old lady to cross the street to impress a girl) or a bad act for the right reasons (stealing food to survive).

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Cardinal virtues and four levels of law

The cardinal virtues:

  • Prudence- Wisdom in actions and knowing what to do with knowledge
  • Temperance- Self-control and moderation
  • Justice- Being fair
  • Fortitude- Perservering through hardships

The four levels of law:

  • Natural- primary precepts
  • Divine- from the Bible
  • Human- from the government
  • Eternal- from the universe/God
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Strengths, Weaknesses and application


  • Simple to follow
  • Gives humans a purpose
  • flexible


  • changes
  • It is out-dated
  • Not always right

Application to abortion and euthinasia

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Finnis and Aquinas


  • 13th Century
  • "evil shall be avoided"


  • 700 years after Aquinas
  • Australian
  • Went to oxford university
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Seven basic goods

Seven basic goods

1) Life

2) Knowledge

3) Play

4) Aesthetic experience

5) Sociability

6) Practical reasonableness

7) Religion

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Nine requirements of practical reason

Nine requirements

1) Live life as a whole

2) Have to prioritise certain goods over others

3) Should be slightly self-interested but still take others into account

4) Do not become obsessed with one idea

5) You should always strive to improve

6) Plan your actions

7) Never directly harm a basic good

8) Work with the community towards a common good

9) Act as your conscious and practical resoning tells you, not authority

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