Ethics

These cards describe the AO1 needed to know for Natural Moral Law.

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Natural Moral Law

Goodness

·        All creatures belong to a natural kind

·        The kind of creature you are defines the abilities you have

o   Human beings:

§  Think

§  Sense things

§  Raise children

§  They live together in a community

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Natural Moral Law

·        To be a good X is to do well those things that make you an X

o   Human beings:

§  Think well

§  Sense things wells

§  Raise children well

§  Will well with others

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Natural Moral Law

Ethics

·        Ethics (Greek) / morality (Latin) mean: ‘To do with character’

·        For Aquinas, the basic ethical question is:

o   What character does a person need to fulfil their potential?

o   What kind of personality leads to happiness?

·        We need ethical rules to help us become people with personalities that will make us happy

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Natural Moral Law

Natural Law

·        Natural Law is the law defined by human nature

o   There are things we must do to be happy

o   There are things we must not do to be happy

o   These things are defined by human nature

·        However, human nature is defined by God

 

GOD à Defines Human Nature à What Happiness Is à What we must (not) do

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Natural Moral Law

Primary Precepts

·        Good is to be done, and evil is to be avoided

·        All human beings know this by nature (we all presuppose this)

- Preserve Life

- Educate

- Live in an ordered society

- Reproduce

- Worship God


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Natural Moral Law

How do we get to more specific moral rules?

·        We use reason to reflect on our experience, and the experience handed down in our moral traditions

·        All human beings can do this: natural reason can arrive at the truths of morality

·        This process of reasoning isn’t easy!

o   Young people aren’t old enough to fully understand what human flourishing is!

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Natural Moral Law

  Human beings naturally live in relationship with other humans.

·        We see that human beings have a natural tendency to preserve themselves in existence

o   Therefore suicide is unnatural, and so forbidden

·        We see that human beings have a natural tendency to care for their children

o   Child abuse is forbidden

·        We see that human beings have a natural tendency to worship God

o   Worship is mandatory

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Natural Moral Law

How we apply the natural law

·        For Aquinas, the rules are always a means to knowing how to be happy.

·        In any particular situation, we need to know which rules are relevant

·        Two questions we have to ask when we act:

o   What does the moral law require?

o   What kind of person do I want to be?

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