Natural law


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Natural law

  1. 1. Introduction to Natural Law <ul><li>THOMAS AQUINAS </li></ul><ul><li>ROMAN CATHOLIC </li></ul><ul><li>ABSOLUTE MORALITY </li></ul>
  2. 2. WHAT IS MEANT BY NATURAL LAW? <ul><li>“ Natural Law is the rational understanding and following of God’s final purpose.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Mel Thompson – ‘Teach Yourself Ethics) </li></ul><ul><li>God created everything for a purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>Humans were created with the ability to reason and can therefore choose to follow an intended purpose. </li></ul>
  3. 3. THE ORIGINS OF NATURAL LAW <ul><li>Aristotle </li></ul><ul><li>Greek philosopher </li></ul><ul><li>Final Cause or purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Anything that prevents or interferes with the purpose for which something is created is wrong. </li></ul>
  4. 4. THOMAS AQUINAS 1225 - 1274 <ul><li>He studied the work of Aristotle. </li></ul><ul><li>Roman Catholic – God created everything with a sense of purpose . </li></ul><ul><li>A rational basis for Christian morality. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Efficient cause – the agent that brings something about. </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. - being sexually attractive </li></ul><ul><li>Final cause – the final aim or purpose of something </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. – the procreation of children </li></ul><ul><li>A bad action is one in which the natural cause or purpose is not achieved. </li></ul>
  6. 6. ABSOLUTE MORALITY <ul><li>Natural Law must be followed without question whatever the circumstances or the situation. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no flexibility – a human must work out (rationalise) if an action fulfils it’s purpose in nature. </li></ul><ul><li>A good action is one which was achieved by fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed. </li></ul>
  7. 7. How to apply Natural Law? <ul><li>“ Reason and the regularities of the natural world should be your guide.” (Peter Mullen) </li></ul><ul><li>The four cardinal virtues: - </li></ul><ul><li>Prudence </li></ul><ul><li>Justice </li></ul><ul><li>Fortitude </li></ul><ul><li>Temperance </li></ul>
  8. 8. The opposite of the four cardinal virtues and the seven deadly sins <ul><li>Pride </li></ul><ul><li>Avarice </li></ul><ul><li>Lust </li></ul><ul><li>Envy </li></ul><ul><li>Gluttony </li></ul><ul><li>Anger </li></ul><ul><li>Sloth </li></ul>
  9. 9. Primary Precepts <ul><li>These are general such as to worship God and to love one’s neighbour. </li></ul><ul><li>These are inflexible </li></ul><ul><li>“ The first principles of Natural Law are altogether unalterable.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Primary Precepts <ul><li>Preserve Life </li></ul><ul><li>Procreate </li></ul><ul><li>Educate </li></ul><ul><li>Life peacefully in society </li></ul><ul><li>Worship God </li></ul>
  11. 11. Secondary Precepts <ul><li>These are more specific such as to only have one husband or wife. </li></ul><ul><li>They have to be interpreted in the context of the situation. </li></ul><ul><li>There is some flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s secondary precepts…though they are unalterable in the majority of cases…can nevertheless be changed on some particular and rare occasion.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. What are the strengths? <ul><li>Based on reason </li></ul><ul><li>Good guidance is given on how to behave </li></ul><ul><li>It is an example of absolute morality </li></ul><ul><li>It is a clear cut theory </li></ul><ul><li>It is straightforward </li></ul><ul><li>There is no need to look at each individual situation to work out if an action is right or wrong </li></ul>
  13. 13. What are the weaknesses of Natural Law? <ul><li>It is inflexible </li></ul><ul><li>It is based on a perceived sense of purpose within nature </li></ul><ul><li>It is based on the assumption that we are rational human beings </li></ul><ul><li>It is based on a belief in a creator God </li></ul><ul><li>It takes no account of individual circumstances or situations </li></ul>
  14. 14. How to apply Natural Law <ul><li>A middle aged man has a heart condition and needs a new heart valve. Is it natural to do this or should the man be allowed to die naturally without medical intervention? </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Two adults of the same sex are living together as a settled and happy couple. They decide that they want a family to make their relationship complete. They decide to adopt a child. It this morally right? </li></ul>
  16. 16. ESSAY <ul><li>A, Outline the theory of Natural Law. (15 marks) </li></ul><ul><li>B, “Natural Law is compatible with Christian Ethics.” Evaluate this view. (10 marks) </li></ul>