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Natural Law

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Natural Law a) Explain what is meant by a natural approach to ethics. Natural Law creates ethical principals from the rules or guidelines, laid down by God in the bible and in the Ten Commandments. This was first suggested by St Paul who inferred that we should live according to God's law. It is a moral code that human beings should be naturally inclined to follow. The natural law has does not favour one situation over another, therefore making it an absolute deontological approach to ethics. Thus, the question has to be asked, 'shouldn't every situation be judged individually? Isn't the substance of actions different for everyone?' Thomas Aquinas was a Roman Catholic Theologian, who understood everything was created for a particular purpose. Fulfilment of this is the good to which everything aims. He developed this from Aristotle's ideas arguing that the world we live in was created by God and has God's ultimate purpose as its final end or good. Thomas Aquinas understood this purpose to be reproduction, and learning to live harmoniously in society as we worship God. These primary precepts followed by natural law lay down how things are and indeed ought to be. Aquinas believed the idea of law to work at four different levels. Natural Law was our inborn sense of right and wrong, discovered through the conscience. ...read more.


In the past, natural law was a very valuable approach to moral dilemmas in situations where there was no reference in the Bible and no obvious relevant principle given by revelation. It is a theory dependent on the understanding that all who use it believes that God created the world and that it must be a final cause to the world's creation. Although it is not a religious theory the Roman Catholic Church has since adopted it. It is seen as a way to involve both faith and reason, and for this, it appeals to a varied group of people who are attracted to the use of reason and intuition together. b) "The strict application of Natural Law goes against common sense". Discuss Natural Law attempts to make good people out of us, and guides us towards our ultimate purpose which may be eudaimonia. Along the way, on this path to this "goal" we are supposed to have; we follow guidelines, and accept certain aspects of life as good or evil. The management of situations we find ourselves in has been assigned to us by those who first developed the concepts of natural law. We therefore find that conflict never arises within ourselves about how to deal with others actions. Practical decision making abilities come from previous knowledge, of how consequences transpire as a result of actions. ...read more.


Darwin's theory says humans exist by chance and look after their own interests and survival whereas Natural Law would says humans exist because of a deliberate will of God and are naturally inclined towards the good. Karl Barth a theologian of the twentieth century had another criticism of Natural Law as he stated sin caused by Adam and Eve's downfall made it impossible for humans to have a reliable concept of what is reasonable. Therefore humans cannot depend on their powers of reasoning as Aquinas said they should, instead Barth believed we should accept God as being the only source of truth. Despite Natural Law being an absolutist theory, it can still be seen to contradict itself, for example in the argument about homosexuality; Natural Law has frequently been said to condemn homosexuality as it is 'unnatural' however the recent suggestions that say that sexuality could be determined by genetics; raises the issue that homosexuality could in fact be a natural part of the way humans are made. Natural Law has had a great impact on ethics. It is the basis on many people's beliefs and morals as they base what they believe to be right or wrong in which is seen to be natural. However as there are differences in opinion about what is considered 'natural' there can be criticisms of this theory, some of which people cannot accept the principles of Natural Law at all. ...read more.

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