Aquinas' Natural Moral Law

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Where did Aquinas believe we could gain understanding of our purpose?
From Scripture (the Bible) and from observing the world around us and applying our recta ratio
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What is recta ratio?
Our God given gift of right reasoning
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What did Aquinas think of the Bible
That it came directly from God and therefore it is inerrant (completely without flaws)
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What ethical theories does Natural Moral Law adopt?
Absolutist, Deontological and Legalist
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What is the definition of Absolutism?
The idea that there are universal norms and values which are universalisable (apply in all times, situations and place) which mean that actions are always right or wrong
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What is the definition of Deontological?
The idea that some actions are in and of themselves either right or wrong regardless of the consequences; you have a duty to act in the right or wrong way regardless of consequences
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What is the definition of Legalism?
The idea that their are religious laws made by a God that if we follow the we are rewarded with an eternal fellowship with God in heaven
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What is empiricism?
Working from evidence and then applying reasoning
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What did St Paul say that Aquinas used to explain how we can learn the difference between good and bad?
"there is a law written on the hearts of men" - St Paul
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What does the word 'telos' mean?
Purpose, end or goal
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What did Aristotle believe that brought everything into being?
The material cause, efficient cause, formal cause and the final cause
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What is the material cause?
What the thing is made of
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What is the efficient cause?
The force that brings it into being
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What is the formal cause?
The idea of the thing
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Which two of Aristotle's causes did Aquinas christianise?
Efficient cause and final cause
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What did Aquinas believe was our efficient cause?
God
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What did Aquinas believe was our final cause?
To do good, avoid evil and glorify God in order to achieve eternal fellowship with Him in heaven
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What two kinds of final causes are there, according to Aristotle?
Subordinate aims and superior aims
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What is the definition of a subordinate aim, and what did Aquinas believe it was?
A purpose we try to achieve in order to achieve something bigger in the future. Aquinas thought mankind should make their subordinate aim 'to do good, avoid evil and glorify God'
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What is the definition of a superior aim, and what did Aquinas believe it was?
A purpose that is an end in itself, and this should be the highest good. Aquinas thought every persons superior aim should 'achieve eternal fellowship with God'
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Why did Aquinas think that faith and reason should go together?
Because we were given our reasoning by God to understand the truth about our purpose, and therefore to enhance our faith in God
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According to Aquinas, what is the purpose of human beings?
To exercise our God given gift of reasoning and become rational human beings
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For Aquinas, true happiness for humans lies in what?
Serving God
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What is our telos?
To do good, avoid evil and glorify God in order to achieve eternal fellowship with Him in heaven
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What are the the 4 laws which describe the way in which the universe functions, in hierarchy order?
Eternal law, divine law, natural law and human law
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Explain eternal law
We cannot understand all that exists until God reveals them to use upon our death. Such as gravity and the cosmos
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Explain divine law
God's revelation through scripture and church teachings. This cannot contradict anything that is held in eternal law
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Explain natural law
Our ability to apply recta ratio / right reasoning to the world around us in oder to gain an idea of our purpose. Natural law cannot contradict divine or eternal law
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Explain human law
Societies legal systems, attitudes and norms. Aquinas said we should not follow these if they contradict natural, divine or eternal law
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Why does Aquinas put such a strong emphasis on reasoning?
Because it is God's gift to mankind, and mankind only, making us different from anything in the created order.
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What are the 5 Primary Precepts?
Preservation of self and the innocent, Order society, Worship God, Educate children, Reproduction/procreation
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What biblical quote supports the primary precept of 'preservation of self and of the innocent'?
Exodus 20:13 = "thou shall not murder"
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What biblical quote supports the primary precept of 'order in society'?
Leviticus 19:3 = "each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths"
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What biblical quote supports the primary precept of 'educate children'?
Exodus 18:20 = "teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave"
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What biblical quote supports the primary precept of 'procreation/reproduction'?
Genesis 1:26 = "be fruitful and multiply'
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What is the definition of Secondary Precepts?
Orders that uphold or fail to uphold the primary precepts
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How can we learn the Secondary Precepts?
These are aspects found in eternal law and divine law therefore we can find them in both scripture and our observation of the world
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Give an example of a secondary precept deduced from the primary precept of 'preservation of the innocent and self'
Do not performed to undergo an abortion.
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Give an example of a secondary precept deduced from the primary precept of 'order in society'
Do not divorce / engage in sexual relations outside of marriage
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Give an example of a secondary precept deduced from the primary precept of 'worship God'
Do not worship a god from another religion
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Give an example of a secondary precept deduced from the primary precept of 'educate children'
Take your children to church and teach them to love their God
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Give an example of a secondary precept deduced from the primary precept of 'reproduction/procreation'
Do not engage in homosexual relations
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What did Aquinas believe made a 'good' act?
One that had both a good interior act and exterior act
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What is the definition of an interior act?
The intention behind an act that a person holds
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What is the definition of an exterior act?
The act itself that a person performs
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What makes a good interior act?
A truly altruistic (selfless) intention
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A man steals food with the intention of feeding his starving family. In the eyes of Natural Moral Law, would this be deemed a 'bad' act?
No, because the man upheld the primary precept of 'preservation of life' and acted with genuinely good interior act (intention). Also as the principles seem conflicted, the man acted with the bestow intention to please God
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According to Aquinas, what is 'sin'?
Sin is falling short of God's plan / an absence of good
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Why did Aquinas believe that there was no 'evil' in the world?
Because God is omnibenevolent (all loving) and creator ex nihilo (created the world from nothing), and therefore God could not create evil
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What is an apparent good?
When a person falls short of God's plan by using their recta ratio incorrectly, causing them to be furthered from the ideal human nature that allows us to achieve our telos
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What is a real good?
Using recta ratio correctly in order to help people become closer to the ideal human nature that God had planned for people
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What did Aquinas believe about human nature?
That all people are born essentially good, and that no one intentionally pursues evil, but rather their use of reason is misguided
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Give an example of an apparent good and then the real good that person should have taken; give reasoning
IVF is an apparent good, because it appears to uphold the primary precept of reproduction, but the real good would be to conceive naturally in the marriage bed because this is God's way of enabling us to bear children.
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Why did Aquinas think there was a strong link between virtuous behaviour and happiness?
Because by using our right reasoning / recta ratio to develop our virtues we can lead a full moral life and in turn fulfil our true moral nature in the eyes of God
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What are the 4 Cardinal Virtues? Define each one.
Prudence (ability to judge appropriate decisions / wisdom), justice (fairness and equality), fortitude (to confront our fears, and courage to face uncertainties), temperance (self control and patience)
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How should mankind learn the Cardinal Virtues?
We can learn these through church teachings, but mostly through recta ratio
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What are the 3 Revealed Virtues? Define each one.
Faith (belief in God's revelations and love), hope (belief in our ability to achieve our telos) and charity (selfless, unconditional and voluntary love to all in response to God's love)
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How should mankind learn the Revealed Virtues?
God reveals them in Scripture (as apart of Divine Law), specifically in 1 Corinthians 13
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Why should we always practice the Cardinal and Revealed Virtues?
Because they must become habit (second nature) as it Aquinas thought that it was easy for the opposites to become habit too and that can lead to apparent goods / sin
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Identify and explain 3 strengths / advantages of Natural Moral Law
1)Allows for the discussion of modern moral dilemmas, as it provides an adequate basis for morality that can be applied universally 2)Focuses upon the ethically of an action therefore safeguards human rights 3)Open to all, not just religious people
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Identify and explain 3 weaknesses / disadvantages of Natural Moral Law
1)Karl Marx would argue that we are too flawed after the fall of man to apply our right reasoning correctly 2)NML is too 'duty bound' and Joseph Flecter would say that Jesus would have rejected that 3)NML is too archaic (outdated) to apply today
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Explain 2 biblical quotes that show how Natural Moral Law is compatible with Christianity.
1) Matthew 25:31 = "should be goal of every human to return to God and gain eternal life", relates to mankinds telos 2) Matthew 6:2 = "the motive for committing an act is important" backs up Aquinas idea of interior goods
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Explain 2 biblical quotes that show how Natural Moral Law is NOT compatible with Christianity
1) Matthew 6:1 "good actions should be done for their own sake and not for reward", we shouldn't committee good acts just to reach our telos 2) Matthew 12:10-12 = 'Jesus healed on the Sabbath', in the new testament Jesus rejected a legalist approach.
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