4. Sexual ethics and natural law

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 24-05-17 13:51
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  • Natural Law
    • Aristotle
      • Focus on distinct nature and purpose
      • Humans are animals, potential is to grow, reproduce, etc.
      • Humans also have potential to understand. This is significant and separates us from animal instincts
        • e.g. Unification of couple
          • Only human beings can understand this
            • Contrasts Bentham
            • Mill would disagree
              • Higher and lower pleasures
      • All this is present in fertilised eggs, but may not reach its full potential
      • Sex is instinct and animals are driven to reproduce.
        • Need to pass on genes to future generation - a throw back to evolution
      • However, sex can be misused (****, *******, pleasure, unhealthy consequences, teenage pregnancy, self-esteem) in a way that can prevent us reaching our full potential
      • Sex is significant to bring couples together and unite couples enabling individuals to reach their potential through each other
        • Protestant view
      • Natural Law distinguishes between sex which is good and sex which diminishes humans
        • Diminishes to animal instincts
        • Harm self-esteem/health
        • Damaging to humans
      • That potential is not only to have children (remember functions/purposes of mouth/ear etc)
        • Criticism: shouln;t be limited as sex organs have more than one function
    • Denominational Differences
      • Aquinas influenced Catholic Teachings
      • 5 Precepts and church emphasise procreation as intention and potential purpose of humanity
      • Any other form of sex is condemned as an "intrinsic evil"
      • Any sexual act that does not allow for procreation is an intrinsic evil also
      • AO2
        • All are natural in same way is not true
        • Nature is varied
        • Natural to be gay
      • Anglican - accept sex has other function to unite couple, procreation is not only focus
      • Natural Law: Sex and procreation are part of the potentiality of humans but not only part or most important part
      • Modern Natural Law
        • "Treat body as mere pleasure is to disintegrate a person' - John Finnis
        • 'Coitus is a unifying action in which the male and female literally become one organism'
        • One purpose
          • Not everyone has children
    • 1) Warns against actions which diminish human beings and lead away from potential
    • 2) Linked to Virtue Ethics - enabling humans to reach full and true potential. In right context, commitment and intimacy, gift of one person to another sex and 'Love making' is good.
    • Moore
      • Maintains that what we regard as human nature is a product of the society and culture in which we live.
      • It is we who pick out the features, we who maintain what we consider to be natural.
    • Reliable
      • Interpretations of laws of nature
      • Reason law laid down by God
        • Depends if you believe in God
      • Children in stable loving relationships as a result
      • Stable society if followed
      • Fewer partners therefore fewer STIs
      • If followed, fewer unwanted pregnancies, lowers teenage pregnancy rate
    • Unreliable
      • Could follow wrong reason
      • Real + apparent goods (marry the wrong person?)
      • Outdated - hasn't changed with society
      • Society's understanding of sex - human nature
      • People fall out of love - not always loving relationships
      • Mary Midgley - rejects single human nature as we are so closely linked to animals


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