Religion and Ethics

  • Created by: CatV
  • Created on: 15-05-19 17:00


Text Box: Summary God = Telos (Aristotle) 4 Tiers of law (Eternal, Divine, Natural, Human) Precepts, Real and Apparent Goods Cardinal Values Doctrine of Double Effect (RCC) Synderesis Principle  









Key Terms:
Natural Law 
Deontological theory based on behaviour in accord with given laws that exist within human societies
Deontological- ‘Duty’, ethics which focuses on intrinsic rights and wrong of actions

Eudaimonia– living well, ultimate telos of human life, truth, flourishing, and enlightenment.
Telos– The end or purpose of something
Synderesis  - Do good and avoid evil, all precepts follow this innate moral code.
Primary Precepts- Most important rules, protect, reproduce, education, society, worship.
Secondary Precepts– Laws found through reason derived from Primary Precepts. 


Key Points

·     Seen as Catholic but accepted by non-Catholics and non-Christians too.

·     Due to our rational nature we are able to perceive right and wrong.

·     Normative Ethical Theory.

·     For Aquinas, reaching God should be our Telos, our ultimate reason for existence. [Life after Death: seeing the face of God]

·     Use reason to discern Real from Apparent Goods. Real in accordance to PP and God’s wishes for us [Revealed knowledge of God]. Apparent are temptations of pleasure that don’t contribute to human flourishing

·     Is a Deontological theory arguing goodness lies within the action, regardless of consequences, matter of duty; as well as Teleological theory wherein the good ness of the action is determined by the goodness of the consequences/outcome, is purpose based.


Ancient Influences on Aquinas

·     Aquinas draws lots of ideas from Aristotle, who believed everything in the universe has telos as a result of his 4 causes argument.
For both happiness does not equate to pleasure as it does for a Utilitarian.

·     Stoicism views world as an ordered place, arranged in the best way possible, Stoics believed we had a divine spark within us that enables reason and understanding of universe. Rationality favoured over emotion. 


John Finnis: Modern Development.
More Aristotle, each aspect of self has rights. Flourishing activated by pursuit of Goods, plan of life and relevance of consequences. 
Have absolute duties/rights. e.g. not dying as means to end, not being lied to and no unjustly condemnation.


Aquinas’ 4 Tiers of Law  (Knowable through reason) [Knowledge of God]

1.    Eternal Law: the unchanging reason of God, absolute and highest form of law. Moral truths we are unable to fathom but through God given reason are able to imperfectly apply to human life.

2.    Divine Law: Commandments given by God, found in Bible and other revelations eg Sermon on the Mount, teaches how to live.  Although Aquinas believes laws are more rationalised rather than revealed, believes these laws reveled are reasonable therefore ‘true’.

3.    Natural Law: People use reason to find how to reach the Eternal Law. NL is God given to allow all to reach EL. Involves rational reflection of our human nature and considering how we may follow synderesis. [Revealed knowledge of God, Knowledge of God’s Existence, Pluralism, and Argument’s based on Reason. Calvin: God


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