Natural Law

Essay by marija98High School, 12th gradeB+, November 2014

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Explain, with examples, Aquinas' theory of Natural Law (25)

Natural law is an absolutist, deontological moral theory initially put forward by Aristotle; this means certain acts are intrinsically right or wrong. It is a body of unchanging moral principles taken from 'human nature' regarded as a basis for all human conduct. Aquinas further developed it by reconciling traditional Biblical Christianity with the 'new' development of Aristotelianism; he did this by combining natural law with divine and eternal law. Aquinas believed that mans' final end is to achieve perfection with God. He also held that God created the world with a purpose in mind; therefore humans (who he created, according to Christian belief) have a purpose, or final cause. To help people understand the final cause Aquinas came up with primary and secondary precepts that we could choose to follow using reason.

Aquinas wanted to make a definitive (or as close as one can get to definitive) framework for humans to understand their god given purpose or telos.

He believed that natural law, was (in accordance to its name) natural. According to Aquinas humans know what is intrinsically right and wrong and our telos because God gave us this knowledge and it can be seen within our nature. He considered Human nature "a reasonable guide to how things should be". If we follow our purpose, "according to reason" (adopted from Aristotle) we are doing 'good' and acting towards God (who as previously stated, has a purpose). For example, the eye is designed for seeing, if the eye can see it is fulfilling its purpose and is therefore doing 'good'.

To make his 'definitive framework' clear, Aquinas devised five primary precepts: Worship god, keep order in society, reproduce, learn and defend and preserve life. These must be followed to achieve...