• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ethical theory

Extracts from this document...


Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ethical theory (12) The strengths that can be ascribed to natural law are a product of its absolutist deontological view of morality. This is to say that it enables people to establish common rules in order to structure communities. This can be an attractive option in a society such as our, enduring a relativist era that is suffering from a break down in traditional social structures and moral uncertainty. Aquinas's view of reason as a tool for moral understanding and his idea of a common nature and morality for all people gives natural law a universality that goes beyond any one religion or culture. This can be seen as a very positive aspect considering the intercultural strife and disharmony that exists between cultures and societies which all uphold similar basic principles such as conserving life. Natural moral law gives a concrete reason to be moral and provides a firm basis for individuals to refuse to cross moral boundaries. ...read more.


Aquinas maintains that as human beings must preserve the species, every discharge of semen should be associated with life generation. To use the genitals in other ways is immoral. However, one could perhaps justify sexual acts on the premise that they further the couple's relationship. If this is the case then it is not necessary for every discharge of semen to be associated with life generation. It could be then that Aquinas was wrong in his deductions, as they may have been based upon an incorrect view of human life. This was perhaps as a result of thirteenth century naivety on Aquinas' part. Vardy and Grosch also consider Aquinas' view of human nature unholistic. Perhaps the genitals are for pleasure rather than reproduction, or some other purpose, maybe even a multitude of purposes. It could also be that sexual activity does not only found in the genitalia. Psychologists have drawn much more complex pictures of human nature than that presented in Aquinas' simplistic account. In contrast to Aquinas' apparent belief in a fragmented collection of parts, today the human body is seen as one psychophysical whole. ...read more.


Given the criticisms raised against natural law, it is worth pointing out that natural law may not be as rigid as it my first appear. Aquinas observed that although primary precepts were unchangeable, the secondary precepts might change in some particular aspects, or in a case in which special reasons make it impossible to observe them. In trying to decide then, if natural moral law can be held as a definitive ethical theory one has to realise that although the theory isn't as rigid as it first appears it is still faced with problems, which may well, be insurmountable. The conclusions of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the prohibition of activities such as artificial contraception and homosexual acts, as already shown, can be subject to convincing challenge. It is also important to note that in the absence of clear guidelines it is impossible to know definitively what is and what is not natural and so therefore rendering the issue wholly subjective. Once an issue becomes subjective, and it is difficult to produce an instance when subjectivity would be absent, natural moral law has to fail as a definitive ethical theory. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Discuss the Relationship between law and morals. Consider how far the law seeks to ...

    The Committee argued that the law should not interfere with private behaviour unless it corrupted or injured others. This "harm no others" principle has several problems. It did not say what harm is, it did not say who 'others' were and should you use law to prevent 'harm' in all cases?

  2. What is Natural Moral Law? What are the strengths and weaknesses of NML?

    Philosopher John Locke saw the importance of living in an orderly way. He believed that there are natural rights to life and liberty, which can be explained as 'survival of the fittest.' Locke focused on individual rights. He believed that we should all look after ourselves and thus our duty to one another is not of importance.

  1. Compare and contrast the ethical theories of natural law and situation ethics.

    Relativism doesn't imply that anything goes. For something to be relative, you've got to have something to be a benchmark, and situation ethics states that it should be relative to love. Fletcher said that it "relativises the absolute, it does not absolutise the relative!" Jesus and the apostles replaced the Torah, the strict Jewish Law with the principle of love.

  2. Examine the Strengths and Weaknesses of Kants Ethical Theory

    So it must necessarily mean that a particular act or kind of act ought not to be carried out under any circumstance i.e. "One ought not to commit murder". A perfect example of this theory when applied: 'Someone who contemplates relieving a financial crisis by borrowing money from someone else,

  1. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Natural Law.

    in society' and to 'worship God', which conform to the main purpose of human nature. However, he also acknowledged four 'secondary precepts' (do not murder, do not abort unborn, defend the defenceless and do not commit suicide) which are further rulings that human beings should avoid, as they do not uphold the primary precepts.

  2. Explain Fletcher's theory of Situation Ethics (13) and Assess the strengths and weaknesses of ...

    requirements might not necessarily be interpreted as having a binding character and duty may well require them to be broken. Fletcher writes of the characteristic concept agape. Agape is an attitude of the will expressing a disinterested concern for anyone.

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Intuitionism? Evaluate the merits or otherwise of ...

    The most evident strength of intuitionism is that the Judaeo-Christian tradition teaches that human beings are made in the likeness of God, therefore having his laws 'written in their hearts'. This clearly supports the intuitive approach. The good person knows what is morally good because he/she is designed to know.

  2. Natural Moral Law - in theory and in practice.

    We use as a moral code and are intrinsically inclined towards. This can be understood through the natural world and studying the Bible and because humans have been given both reason and freedom they can choose absolute morality and good.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work