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

Explain what is meant by a Natural Law approach to ethics

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Natural Law Essay Explain what is meant by a Natural Law approach to ethics. (25 marks) The natural law theory was developed by St Thomas Aquinas. He followed absolutist and deontological theories. Aquinas essentially believed that there was a moral code god built into the design of use, this code is now known as natural law. This means that he believed that actions were intrinsically right or wrong, regardless of their consequences. He worked through the 12th century bringing different ideas from different cultures together. His work was heavily influenced by a Greek philosopher Aristotle. Many Christians rejected Aristotle's ideas, as they believed he was trying to replace religion with reason, which the natural law's basic ideas lie on. However Aquinas showed that if human reason is recognised to come from God then faith and reason can provide people with the best tools and principles for living. He said that our reason could be a guide on how to live our life and if we follow our reason, others would not suffer, or would suffer less. There were two philosophers who built up the idea of Natural Law; Aquinas?s theory of Natural law has origin in Aristotle?s idea of purpose. ...read more.

Middle

Another philosopher, Thomas Aquinas believed that it was our duty to try and reach perfection by developing god?s image within us. He believed that by doing so we could build a strong union with god. To reach perfection we need to reach eudemonia as well as following the primary and secondary precepts. By living a rational life our rational nature enables us to have a unique relationship with god. Aquinas also shared similar views with Aristotle on human reason although Aquinas?s involved the idea that reason is developed from god. We can find a moral code from god by living a life of reason and gain knowledge on what is acceptable and unacceptable by doing so. He identified that our function was to live life according to reason, as our rational nature separates us from everything else in the world, creating our ability to develop a distinctive relationship with god. He said that people use reason to achieve their purpose. Reason examines natural inclinations such as achieving what is ?good?, Aquinas believed inclinations were given to us by god to discover our purpose. ...read more.

Conclusion

We can do wrong when instead of aiming for the highest goods we get lost and settle for lesser goods. Divine and eternal law are laws which help us understand natural law. Eternal law is the principle by which god made and controls the world, including scientific laws and moral laws. Just as god controls the world he controls us as individuals, he created human nature which has been developed by our reason. Divine law is how the bible reflects on eternal law. Aquinas says to make the right decisions we must set our hearts on god and seek his will. We must check and supplement natural law with divide law and try and follow the bible to make the right decisions which god wants us to make. In summary, a natural law approach to ethics consists of several different idea?s which were developed over time according to their cultural context. Aquinas being the creator of natural law based many of his ethical ideas on Aristotle?s approach to human reason. Aristotle suggest that human were built with a function and a purpose to fulfil, which Aquinas then developed and said these came from god and to reach these we had to follow a moral code. ...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. Religious Studies - Ethics: Natural Moral Law

    Anything that was considered to frustrate these final purposes was deemed morally wrong. Aquinas believed that people must follow Natural Law to fulfil God's will and glorify him, and that human nature was created so that one could look at nature and work out what is right and wrong.

  2. Utilitarianism VS Kantian Deontological Ethics

    Utilitarianism would attempt to maximise pleasure (and minimise suffering) in this situation as in any. Lying to your mother would be the best option if she weren't to find out that you were in fact not ill. This would be the best option, because it would create no suffering aside from you having to catch up tomorrow, and the repercussions that that has.

  1. natural law

    A historical example would be that of Hitler and Stalin, who did not seek out evil but sought what they thought, was right. The theory of natural law states that you are only responsible for the immediate consequences of your actions - not for the secondary or unintended effects of your action.

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

    which lives up, not only to one of the bibles most salient features, but a principle which Christ himself promulgates in his teachings, "Love your neighbour as yourself". It upholds what one can identify as natural virtues- prudence, temperance, and justice.

  1. Free essay

    Explain What Is Meant By natural law

    A sowing needle can be used as an example of supreme purpose, its purpose is thread though materials but it's supreme good is to thread though a material as effort as possible by being as sharp as it can be.

  2. Religious Ethics are not the best approach to environmental ethics'. Discuss.

    This implies that God has made all things for the sake of humans; that the only beings upon this earth that have intrinsic value are humans, and that everything else serves to benefit humanity (instrumental value). The only reason we need to have care for the environment is because our actions may have an impact, sooner or later, upon ourselves.

  1. Explain, with examples, Aquinas theory of Natural Law.

    To sum up the theory of Natural Moral Law, it is basically here and should be used to help people thrive to reach their true and full potential. It allows us all to appreciate the laws and the importance they have in our lives and using the primary precepts we

  2. Utilitarianism ethics is the not the best approach to environmental ethics discuss

    to sustain the growth in urban sprawl do these factors justify the loss of habitats for the 70% of the land animals and plants that live in the forest, or the rise in greenhouse gases resulting in a rise in global warming which may not affect in the short-term but will bring issues for future generations).

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