JOHN FINNIS NATURAL LAW

?
  • Created by: moranm
  • Created on: 02-12-19 18:10

JOHN FINNIS - WHO IS HE?

 

Background To Finnis

·        John Finnis ( 1940 - ) is an Australian philosopher specialising in the philosophy of law.

·        Finnis is author of 'Natural Law and Natural Rights' (1980), 

His work is a a restatement of Natura Law theory.

1 of 18

BACKGROUND TO FINNIS' NATURAL LAW

·        Aristotle (384-322 BCE)  there was a natural justice, which was valid to everyone. However, Natural Law theory was fundamentally developed by Aquinas (1225-1274 AD). 

  • Aquinas  Natural Law = an aspect of God's eternal law, accessed through human reason.  The purpose of life is to re-establish a right relationship with God. 

·     Finnis accepts the idea that there is a natural justice, that is applicable to all humanity.

  • However, unlike Aquinas, he argues that Natural Law's purpose is to ensure a person is able to live a worthwhile live and to 'flourish' i.e. to establish what is really 'good' for humankind.
2 of 18

THE BASIC GOODS what are they

LITTLE KATHERINE FOUND PHILOSOPHY ALWAYS REQUIRED REASONL

  •  Life
  • Knowledge  for its own sake
  • Friendship
  • Play - just for enjoyment and fun
  • Aesthetic experience - beauty and art
  • Practical Reasonableness - using intelligence to solve moral problems
  • Religion - a connection with the divine (not necessarily institutional religious practices
3 of 18

The BASIC GOODS - HOW THEY WORK

1. F rejects Aquinas' PP and argues for 7 basics goods that help humans flourish

2. They are self evidence and apply equally to all people at all times

3. Distingush between theoretical reason - what is true with practical reason - how to act

4. Theoretical reason - either one or other statement is true; pRactical reason - can have 2 acts which are equally good.

5.  There is no hierarcy of basic goods - all are equal, but people have to prioritse when one is to be followed over another using practical reasonableness.

6.  Since they are self evident - they are not derived from God's law - they just obviously exist

7.They are the basic needs of all human beings

4 of 18

9 PRINCIPLES OF PRACTICAL REASONABLENESS

·        The nine principles are:

1.      You should view your life as a whole, and not live moment to moment, based on achieving the basic goods.

2.      You naturally have to prioritise certain goods over others, but you should always do so with good reason. You should never arbitrarily discount one of the basic goods.3.   Basic goods apply equally to all people. You can be self-interested , but you should always take into account the good of others i.e. you must not neglect others.

4.      You should make sure that you do not become obsessed with a particular project i.e. if is not helping you flourish then find another project that fulfils a basic good.5.      You should actually do projects and make an effort to flourish i.e.  don’t just sit around or repeat old habits6.      Aim to do good and avoid evil, by actions that fulfil the basic goods.

7.     You should never commit an act that directly harms a basic good, even if it will indirectly benefit a different basic good.8. You should foster the common good of the community,  9.   You should act according to your conscience and practical reason, not the authority of someone else.

WHOLE HARM COMMUNITY CONSCIENCE EQUAL AVOID PRIORITISE OBSESS PROJECTS 

 WHEN HAPPY CLAPPY CHRISTIANS EVANGELISE AND PRAY OVER PEOPLE

5 of 18

MAKING DECISIONS USING THE 7 BG'S AND 9PR'S

1. To make specific decisions in your life, you think reasonably, in accordance with the nine requirements, and then decide how you will pursue the basic goods.

2.   There is plenty of scope for choice and preferenc.ethere are many equally correct choices.  However, some choices are wrong, e.g. murdering someone, or spending all day in an empty room doing nothing, 

3 . The seven goods do not exist in a hierarchy.  there is no single correct act.

4. This is an important distinction between theoretical and practical reason: in theoretical reason, if two statements contradict then at least one of them must be false. In practical reason, there can be two contradictory acts that are both morally correct choices. It is up to a human’s free will to choose which act they will adopt.

5.  the seven goods and the nine requirements specify the structure and goals, but do not determine all the little details of decision making.  They offer an overall structure

6 of 18

COMMON GOOD

1. Humans need to live in groups - in community

2. we are more productive working together

3. one of the 9 principles of practical reasonableness is to 'foster the common good'

4. The common good means that each member of the community is able to pursue the basic goods for themselves and that all others are able to do this to

5. We never achieve 'the common good' we only take part (participate) in it.

7 of 18

JOHN FINNIS - AUTHORITY AND THE NEED FOR LAWS

1. Laws are need to achieve the common good; the whole community needs to follow the rules

2. Therefore, we need authority to ensure people follow the rules

3. Law is the most effective source of authority

4. Some laws directly uphold 7 basic goods - e.g. no murder =  basic good -life

5. Others are less direct - but they create a stable society to allow for the pursuing of the 7 basic goods

6.  The authors of the law need to create a legal system that supports the basic goods in accordance with the 9 principles of practical reason.

7. It is only a morally good legal system if it does this

8 of 18

FINNIS AND OBEYING THE LAW

Finnis finally argues that if you accept a legal system, then you have a legal obligation to obey every law.  The argument runs like this:

1.      I ought to pursue the basic goods

2.      Society needs to coordinate in order to best achieve the basic goods

3.      The law is an effective way of coordinating society this way

4.      Therefore, I ought to obey the law.herefore you have both a legal and moral obligation to respect and obey the law. 

5. The law is therefore justified to put in place sanctions for those that disobey the law.

9 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO IMMIGRATION - IN FAVOUR USIN

The basic goods  that support immigration:

Basic Goods

·        Friendship and Sociability: the basic good friendship can be seen to support immigration because we should extend the hand of friendship to all – including immigrants

·        Aesthetic Experience –  immigration supports this basic good because immigration opens up a society to a wider variety of cultural aesthetic influences, such as art or poetry.

·        Religion –immigration opens up different avenues to answer  the ultimate questions that transcend humanity. As immigrates may bring with them different answers to such questions e.g. a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu perspective etc.

  • Knowledge - immgration opens up a chance to learn more about different cultures and peoples history, adding to our overall knowledge of the world.  Reasons why people immgrate - social, political and economic broared our understanding of the world
10 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO IMMIGRATION - IN FAVOUR USIN

Requirements of Practical Reason  Basic goods apply equally to all people. You can be self-interested to the extent that you are in the best position to look after yourself, but you should always take into account the good of others i.e. you must not neglect others. Therefore, we should not neglect the needs of immigrants

·        Aim to do good and avoid evil, by actions that fulfil the basic goods. It could be argued that helping immigrants, particularly from war torn areas, is doing 'good' and to neglect them is evil.

·        You should foster the common good of the community, not just for you as an individual. If we consider the world of a community then we must help others by allowing immigration.You should act according to your conscience and practical reason, not the authority of someone else.  It could be argued that helping people by allowing immigration is the right thing to do and our consciences  would support that.

11 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO IMMIGRATION - AGAINST USING

·        Friendship and Sociability –

on a basic level it means at least been sociable, but ultimately acting in the interests of one's friends.  This point could limit friendship to a close knit group of friends.  Therefore, this basic good does not include people we do not know – like immigratnts.

·        Aesthetic Experience – means an appreciation of beauty and art.  Allowing immigration could erode a cultural identity and thus a cultures idea on aesthetics (such as art could be lost.

12 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO IMMIGRATION - AGAINST USING

Requirements of Practical Reason  You should foster the common good of the community, not just for you as an individual. It could be argued that mass immigration disrupts a particular society. Therefore, the only way to foster the common good for a community is to reject immigration all together or opt for controlled immigration.

Other:  if a law in society is to reject immigration (a little like with the Trump administration in the USA) then we should accept that because following the law is the best way to achieve the common basic goods.

 FINNIS ON IMMIGRATION  .  He argues that controlled immigration is a good thing because the benefits to a community outweigh the problems e.g. it helps people within that community achieve the basic goods.  However, mass immigration would have the opposite effect because of the disruption to a community this would cause e.g. a break down in local services such as health care, education and welfare and/or law and order.  This would stop a community been able to achieve the basic goods.

13 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - IN FAVO

·        Friendship and Sociability – on a basic level it means at least been sociable, but ultimately acting in the interests of one's friends.

If one of our friends is either directly affected by a killing or is a potential target of killer; then it could be argued that it is in the interests of our friend to support capital punishment for the killer.

·        Practical Reasonableness – using one's intelligence to solve moral problems. 

Is it not an obvious external fact that a murderer, by taking someone else life, forfeits their own? Therefore, supporting capital punishment.

  • LIFE:  Surely supporting capital punishment protects the basic good of life- since it rids society of its most dangerous offenders who threaten others well being and right to life
14 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - IN FAVO

Requirements of Practical Reason

·        Basic goods apply equally to all people. You can be self-interested to the extent that you are in the best position to look after yourself, but you should always take into account the good of others. 

Therefore, for the good of others, on the whole, should not a community support capital punishment – thus removing the continued threat posed, by say, a murderer. 

  • You should foster the common good of the community, not just for you as an individual. Is not the common good of a community fostered by removing those members of a society that do not, in an extreme way, support the basic goods e.g. capital punishment for murderers and rapists etc
15 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - AGAINST

·        Life – covers various aspects of life from bodily health.  This basic good supports  to the concept and importance of life.  For obvious reasons capital punishment would go against this basic good. 

·        Practical Reasonableness – using one's intelligence to solve moral problems.  Does our practical reasonableness point us in the direction that capital punishment is wrong.  Is it not obvious from observation that killing, in any form, is wrong.  Is it reasonable to argue that a killing someone else is a legitimate way to uphold the principle that killing is wrong

16 of 18

FINNIS APPLICATION TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - AGAINST

·       You should never commit an act that directly harms a basic good, even if it will indirectly benefit a different basic good. For example, you should not kill even if it will indirectly save more lives later.  Therefore, capital punishment should never be carried out because capital punishment would harm the basic good of 'life'.

You should act according to your conscience. It could be argued that our conscience tells us that killing is always wrong and therefore capital punishment is never acceptable.

  • You should act for the common good.  Is it really in the interests of society to argue in favour of capital punishment.  Data shows that states where CP is legal have higher rates of violent crime. Does this not show that once killing is legitimised by the government it becasue more, not less acceotable in the society - therefore against the common good
17 of 18

FINNIS ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

·     Perhaps the best way to understand Finnis' Natural Law theories view on capital punishment is to consider Finnis' view on the law.  Finnis argues that if you accept a legal system, then you have a legal obligation to obey every law.  The argument runs like this:

1.            I ought to pursue the basic goods

2.            Society needs to coordinate in order to best achieve the basic goods

3.            The law is an effective way of coordinating society this way

4.            Therefore, I ought to obey the law.

·        Therefore you have both a legal and moral obligation to respect and obey the law. The law is therefore justified to put in place sanctions for those that disobey the law. If that includes capital punishment, then we should accept it.

18 of 18

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »