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

Compare the Natural Law Theory with Kant's approach in relation to killing in war.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare the Natural Law Theory with Kant's approach in relation to killing in war. It is important to acknowledge that the theory of Natural Law is defined as absolute (whereby an action is regarded as right or wrong irrespective of differing circumstances or conditions) and deontological (which means that the moral value of an action is judged according to the intention and not the consequences), and is most closely associated with St. Thomas Aquinas, who developed the principles and advances of Aristotle, to produce a moral code (existing within the purpose of nature) which human beings are naturally inclined towards. In addition, Aquinas maintained that the 'moral life' is lived according to reason, which is achieved by following the primary precepts which promote the principles of 'self-preservation and the preservation of the innocent', the 'continuation of the species through reproduction', the 'education of children', to 'live in society' and to 'worship God'. Aquinas also acknowledged four 'secondary precepts' (do not murder, do not abort unborn, defend the defenceless and do not commit suicide) ...read more.

Middle

In contrast, it is also significant to make reference to the absolute and deontological ethical theory advocated by Immanuel Kant, who argued (in The Metaphysics of Morals, 1797) that we are able to calculate the moral worth of an action in accordance to the Categorical Imperative - an unconditional command comprising of three principles informing human beings of their duty by directing them to actions which are good in themselves: The Universal Law (for an action to be morally valid, the agent must not carry it out unless he or she believes that, in the same situation, all people should act in the same way); Treat humans as end in themselves (never treat humans as a means to an end); and Act as if you live in a kingdom of ends (act as if you were a law-making member of a kingdom of ends). Kant also considered that to act morally is to do one's duty, which involved obeying the moral law, and maintained that human beings seek an ultimate end called the supreme good (the summun bonum) ...read more.

Conclusion

that prohibit acts that would be commonly considered wrong (such as murder/killing) and therefore corrects the atrocities that could be justified under a utilitarian approach - the moral value of an action comes from the intrinsic rightness in itself. However, Kant's theory refuses to allow exceptions to different situations, and it could also be argued that a weakness with the concept of universalisability is the problem of different but similar dilemmas - are two moral dilemmas always the same? In conclusion, although there are undoubtedly many intricate issues with regard to the subject of war, it is vital to consider the various arguments provided (including those above) such as the view that the ultimate principle should be to preserve life (W.D.Ross) and the conditions set out in the 'just war' theory. However, my personal view is that although I can acknowledge the arguments provided by idealist and realist thinkers, I believe that in order to justifiably conduct military action, it is necessary to establish an independent system where universal jurisdiction can be enforced, and which will provide an impartial hearing and sentence those accordingly - such as the United Nations. James Yates ...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 conservative view on the Wolfenden Committee was Lord Devlin. He believed that the law should have a direct input into the moral life of its citizens. The conservative influence on law was seen in some of the legislation during Margaret Thatcher's leadership in the eighties.

  2. Essay on Law vs. Justice

    First, those in business need to be assured that telling the truth is not only okay, it is what the people they are working for want. We are already seeing that message being conveyed in the market by investors who are punishing those firms that have been identified as having engaged in so-called "aggressive accounting."

  1. Utilitarianism is unjust

    The seventh objection to utilitarianism, the experience machine, is not a very great argument. Being happy does not require us to be in the experience machine, but experience in itself is where true happiness lies. The feeling of pleasure is heightened when the action is actually completed, and not fake.

  2. Critically examine what is meant by natural moral law.

    up with a set of excuses or exceptions when it doesn't work! Natural law assumes that we have a 'uniform' human nature, "god made man in his own image' Genesis 1:27. Basically, this conjures up the supposition that if we humans were all created in the same way then realistically

  1. Austin's theory of law is based on coercio

    result in a form of 'disadvantage' directly or indirectly if the law is not complied with. It is important to note that not all laws can thus fit into the coercive model of law- especially power-conferring rules. Hart says to do this denies the variety of kinds of laws.

  2. Examine what is meant by natural law with reference to morality and analyse and ...

    This is evident by means of their powers of reason. Law is the application of natural law to particular social circumstances. Like the Stoics, Aquinas believed that a positive law that violates natural law is not true law. The beliefs and writings of Aquinas were adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.

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

    This highlights that there is not one common universal moral law for mankind. With such an absolute theory which is inflexible it is hard to apply in modern society with its frequent changes and developments. Kai Nelson supports this criticism as he says ?there is no such thing as an

  2. Is Killing Ever Morally Justifiable?

    I don?t think war is wrong because it is most of the time necessary. For example, a few years Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed to wipe Israel of the map and the only thin Israelis could do was to defend their country from the Iranians through war.

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