Natural Moral Law


Natural Law is an absolutist theory most commonly associated with St Thomas Aquinas (1224 -1274).

It relies on Aquinas' basic understanding that humans innately try to do good and to avoid evil in order to find fulfilment and happiness in life (Synderesis Rule).

Primary Precepts

Following on from the Synderesis Rule, Natural Law is based on five primary precepts.

These primary precepts are fundamental principals revealed to us by God.

They are:

1. Self-preservation/preservation of the innocent
2. Continuation of the species through reproduction
3. Education of children
4. To live in society
5. To worship God

Secondary Precepts

Humans are then to use their reason to establish rules that will fulfil the requirements of the primary precepts. These rules are known as secondary precepts.

Some examples are:

  • Do not murder (fulfils the primary precept of preserving the innocent)
  • Do not abort the unborn (fulfils the primary precepts of preserving the innocent and of continuing the species)

Key aspects of Natural Law

Reason is used in order to establish how we should live our lives. We use our reason to fulfil the requirements of the primary precepts and therefore to achieve our aim of doing good and avoiding evil.

At times humans use their reason incorrectly because they are following apparent goods rather than real goods. An example…


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