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Flashcards in Natural moral law Deck (9)
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Natural law - introduction

System of ethics based on the teachings of Aquinas and the principle that there is such thing as human nature that we should live by.
Deontological - An absolute system of rules


Natural law - Telos (ultimate end)

>Aquinas - used thinking of Aristotle to develop his own ideas around ethics
>Something is good if it fulfils its purpose
>People aim to reach eudaimonia (happiness and flourishing)
>Moral acts come from free, rational beings
>God should be the ultimate 'end' or purpose for human life - being in the presence of God is the human 'telos'
>People need help from God in order to direct their motives and actions


Natural law - Four tiers of law

1. Eternal law - unchanging reason from God, absolute for all people, highest form of law
2. Divine law - commandments given by God, usually found in the Bible, teaching people how to live
3. Natural law - people can perceive eternal law by using their reason to reflect on the world and how they should behave and act, God uses natural law to make eternal law accessible to people, universal
4. Human law - laws people come up with in response to the higher tiers of law or in the response to society, lowest tier of law, can be broken if higher forms of law conflict with it


Natural law - The precepts

Key precept - Do good, avoid evil (rule of synderesis)
>Worship God
>Live in an orderly society
>Learn and teach people about God
>Defend the innocent and preserve life
Secondary precepts derive from the primary precepts


Natural law - real and apparent goods

Real goods - those which are in accordance with the primary precepts and God's wishes for humanity
Apparent goods - things which tempt us because they seem enjoyable but which do not further the aim of promoting human flourishing


Natural law - 'Natural' or 'cardinal' virtues

Aquinas identified four 'natural' or 'cardinal' values that he thought were discovered by reason
>Prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice


Natural law - Doctrine of double effect

>Aquinas discusses situations where a single action has two effects
>He says that intention is important - if the intention was to do something good then the action cannot be bad
>Might be used in cases of euthanasia


Natural law - Possible strengths

>Way it is applied can vary widely - allows for consideration of different circumstances
>Offers clarity and consistency in its answers
>Absolute and applies to all times and cultures
>Combines religious ideas with reason
>Easy to work out what is right and wrong - helpful system of ethics


Natural law - Possible weaknesses

>Way it is applied can vary widely - not always clear what to do
>Presupposes a belief in God
>Our understanding of what's natural is not always accurate and not always unchanging
>Overly legalistic
>The world has changed since Aquinas' time, some applications may seem inappropriate now