Natural Law and Ethics (3)

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  • Created by: oyinlola
  • Created on: 08-04-13 18:57

Explain Aristotle’s theory of the four causes.

  • The question expects an explanation of Aristotle’s concept of the material,formal, efficient and final causes, probably explained with reference to anexample (e.g. the bronze of a statue being its material cause; its shape theformal cause; the artisan and his tools as the efficient cause; and the aesthetic fact of the statue as its final cause.
  • In science, the scientific method aims at explaining natural changes in objects in terms of the four causes. An adequate explanation of a natural change may involve (but may not) all four causes.
  • The causes of some objects may involve identity of causes, e.g. for a human being, the efficient formal cause is the same as the final cause, since its end or purpose is to realize its form as perfectly as possible (i.e. to be as good a man as possible). For natural objects, the efficient cause is also the same as the formal and final causes, because animals and plants are normally caused by another individual of the same species.
  • We have knowledge of a thing only when we know its cause.

(30 marks)

‘Cause is not at the centre of life.’ Assess this claim.


Responses are likely to be very varied. For example candidates might discuss this with reference to Aristotle, or Aquinas, or


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