Natural Moral Law

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  • Natural Moral Law
    • Introduction
      • It is a form of deontology
      • Put forward by Aristotle but later developed and "Christianised" by Aquinas
    • Aristotle (384-322)
      • 'Eudiaimonia' is the concept we should flourish and fulfill our purpose.
        • Aristotle believed everything was ordered in the world and we had purpose.
        • Aristotle identified four causes of an object
          • 1. Material cause: what the object is made from.
          • 2. Formal cause: how the object is identified.
          • 3. Efficient cause: what caused the object to exist.
          • 4. Final cause: the object's end or purpose.
      • Aristotle ultimately focuses on final cause.
    • Aquinas (1224-1274)
      • Natural Moral Law is based on human reason and revelation from God, showing himself through the Bible. Aquinas believed we have a God-given purpose.
      • Aquinas identified four laws
        • 1. Eternal law: God's wisdom and ordering of the world.
        • 2. Divine law: revealed in scripture, guides us to Heaven.
        • 3. Human law: achieved by living by other laws.
        • 4. Natural law: fulfillment on Earth.
      • Primary Precepts
        • Aim for self-preservation and the preservation of the innocent, the continuation of the species through reproduction, educate children, live in society, and worship God.
        • As a result of following the primary precepts we also follow the secondary precepts.
          • By worshipping God we are not committing murder or aborting the innocent.
    • Doctrine of Double Effect
      • Both the intention and the act are important.
        • Interior is the intention of the act.
        • Exterior is the secondary act which comes from the decision.
        • Both have to be good for the moral decision to be right
      • Catholicism built on Aquinas's "Christianised" contribution to Natural Moral Law.
        • They conclude that even with a good action and a bad secondary act, the decision is still moral.
      • Example of Palliative Care. Morphine is used to lessen the pain but it has the secondary act (which is unwanted) that it shortens the patient's life by a few hours.
    • Bernard Hoose
      • Proportionality
        • Separates good and evil.
        • This makes it more personal for people by bringing in emotions.
        • There must be some proportionate reason to justify your moral decision making.
      • Follow natural Moral Law unless there is proportionate justification.
    • Evaluation
      • Disadvantage
        • Kai Nelson, there is not 'one human nature' across all cultures.
          • Indians used to leave their old behind.
          • Natural Moral Law still upholds a universal guide to making moral decisions.
        • Contradicts teachings from Jesus, opposing legal authority such as the Pharisees.
          • Natural Moral Law still has religious connections through Aquinas's Christianised argument and primary precepts form God.
        • It is a very rigid method with the primary precepts.
          • It becomes more flexible with the development of proportionality
      • Strengths
        • Religious or not, it can be used and gives advice on day-to-day issues and problems.
        • It gives humans high-status, it acknowledges that we are not perfect and takes into account our intentions. Focus on eudiamonia and your own moral character.
        • It lays down common rules across communities.


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