Natural Law


St Thomas Aquinas developed the Natural law theory. Natural law is an absolutist and deontological theory. To believe in the natural law theory, one has to believe in god because natural law theory believes there was is only one law and that is natural law that is created by god and should be followed by all. This means what is wrong in one situation, is wrong in every situation and this is determined by looking at the action itself, not the purpose, intentions or consequences. Natural law is useful for issues where the bible is silent such as IVF. In order to use natural law efficiently, primary precepts must be understood first.

Primary precepts are the bases of the natural law theory and the five purposes of human life. They are, to worship god, live in an ordered society, reproduce, learn and defend the innocent. These precepts are unchangeable like god is unchanging. With primary precepts, secondary precepts are formed, these follow the primary precepts but are able to change as it is harder to determine right from wrong in the real world. Situations such as war, even though the bible says ‘thou shall not kill ‘but in the act of war or euthanasia, according to the secondary precept, it is suspended. This also leads to the principle of the double effect.

The doctrine of the double effect is the good and bad effect of an action. A situation where there is a cross over between what is good and what is bad due to the outcome. If a pregnant woman had a life threatening illness, she could abort the baby but by doing this she is ending a life, but if she were to have the baby she would be putting herself and the baby’s life at risk therefore there is


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