Natural Law and Ethics (5)

  • Created by: oyinlola
  • Created on: 08-04-13 19:15

Explain Finnis’ Natural Law theory.

 Finnis’ main writing on his Natural Law system is: Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980), although candidates may well quote from articles and internet material.

 Finnis proposes seven basic goods by which the good life can be lived: life, knowledge, play, aesthetics, sociability, sociability, practical reasonableness, and religion.

 According to Finnis, such goods are self-evidently good, and need no further rationale; they are the motivation behind, and the goal of, action.

 Finnis ‘First Moral Principle’ is that “In voluntarily acting from human goods and avoiding what is opposed to them, one ought to choose and will only those possibilities whose willing is compatible with integral human fulfilment.” ‘Integral human fulfilment’ refers to the good of all persons and of the community, so it therefore opposes abortion, euthanasia, nuclear weapons, and so on.

 Finnis also proposes nine ‘principles of practical reasonableness’, which guide us in fulfilling the basic goods. These include: having a coherent life-plan, not showing arbitrary preferences among people, being detached yet committed when working out the good life, fostering the common good of one’s community, and so on.

(30 marks)

Assess the view that Finnis’ Natural Law theory has more strengths than  weaknesses.

In favour of this view

 Any system of Natural Law has an undeniable strength in appealing to our…


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