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Transcript Natural_Moral_Law_part_2[1]

Natural Moral Law
Aquinas and Reason
This theory is absolute and deontological, this
means that it is concerned with ‘action’.
In his work “Summa Theological Aquinas
described natural law as a moral code existing
within the purpose of nature, created by God,
”law is nothing else than an Ordination of reason
for the common good”
For Aquinas, the purpose of human life was to
achieve perfection with God. For Aquinas this
perfection could not be discovered by natural law
alone. He also appealed to eternal law and divine
• Eternal law refers to the principles by which God
governs the universe
• Divine law refers to the Bible, which guides us in
reaching our goal of perfection.
• Natural law is the part of eternal law that applies to
human choices and can be known by our natural reason
For Aquinas this perfection was not achievable in
this life, but only after death.
The Primary Precepts – Basic
principles of Aquinas’ Natural Law
In four words, 'Do good, avoid evil'. In more detail, Aquinas
talked of Primary Precepts. Whilst you probably think of
Natural Law as a deontological position (deon- duty;
deontological ethical positions have absolute rules that it is
our duty to follow), this part is teleological. Telos- purpose.
What is our purpose – what are we designed for?
• Protection of the innocent
• Reproduction
• Ordered society
• Worship God
• Learning
TASK – Come up with 2 secondary precepts for each that
you think uphold would uphold them. Try to think of one
positive and one negative.
Secondary Precepts
Aquinas regarded each precept as a part of
a path towards the ultimate purpose in life.
The primary precepts are set in stone
whereas the secondary precepts can vary
from the law of the land to accepted codes
of behaviour within our own family. They
are practical human rules which govern our
daily behaviour…
So how do we arrive at these?
To arrive at the secondary precepts you
have to reason what would be an essential
route to get towards this primary precept.
Possible secondary precepts are;
Preservation of life
Do not kill
No Contraception
Order in Society
No Capital Punishment
Permit IVF and Surrogacy
Do not steal
Build more homes
Hold school assemblies
Worship God
Set one day a week aside
for worship -eg Sunday.
Free education for children
and university students
Make schooling compulsory
Real and Apparent Good
Natural law is within all of us, but it is not
like a physical law that can be followed. It
derives from reason and reason can
sometimes be in error.
Read the information on your worksheet and
complete the tasks
Causistry is the name given to the process of applying
Natural Law principles to specific situations. This is done
in a logical way, as some principles have logical
consequences. For example, if it is in principle wrong to kill
innocent human beings, it follows that bombing civilian
targets (such as Dresden in WW2) is wrong. However, if
it is accepted that killing in self defence is okay, we could
justify an air attack on Afghanistan on these grounds.
Innocent people might die, but that is not the aim of the
action, so the doctrine of double effect comes in to
Double effect
Double effect refers to situations where there is an
intended outcome and another significant but
unintentional outcome.
According to Natural Law it is our intentions that are
important, not the consequences of our actions. Double
effect would not allow you to perform an action where an
unintended outcome had devastating effects.
Four conditions must be met…
1. We do not wish the evil effects and make all
reasonable efforts to avoid them
2. The immediate effect in itself should be good
3. The evil is not made a means to obtain the good
4. The good effect should be as important,
proportionately at least, as the evil effect.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Highlight the arguments for and against
Natural Moral Law (NML).
Conclusions that can be drawn are…
NML is the correct moral theory and so defines all moral actions
Other ethical theories are therefore in error
NML makes assumptions that may or may not be correct.
Whether or not it is valid cannot be determined, however it’s
strengths outweigh it’s weaknesses.
NML makes assumptions that may or may not be correct.
Whether or not this is valid cannot be determined, however its
weaknesses outweigh it’s strengths.
NML is one ethical system amongst others and has equal status
with them
NML is flawed and invalid.
Review your knowledge.
Complete the yellow summary worksheet.