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

Natural Moral Law

Extracts from this document...


Natural Moral Law Natural Moral Law is a universal deontological theory that basis itself as an objective and ideal to order human society. The term 'Natural Law' was introduced by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) in his 'Nicomachaen Ethics.' Those who accept natural law argue that all problems about defining 'good' can be resolved by discovering what is natural. From the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers to the present day Natural moral law remains one of the most powerful Ethical theories. The Sophists argued that no one could violate the laws of nature. They believed that the 'strong should dominate the weak.' On the other hand Plato wrote in his 'Republic' that society be the hunters and the weaker to be doctors of the group. Aristotle and the Stoics believed that Natural Law cannot be changed it is by everybody and therefore can be universalised as a universal truth. The basis of natural law is that there is an objectively ideal way to be human and that it is by this ideal we measure our humanity. If our ideal was reached we would be completely happy, as we would have realised our maximum physical, spiritual and mental health. Natural law argues that reason and the law of the universe tells us what is good. ...read more.


The Roman Catholic Church continues to hold the view of natural law set forth by Thomas Aquinas, particularly in his Summa Theologica, this view is also shared by some Protestant churches. They understand human beings to consist of body and mind, the physical and the non-physical and that the two are inextricably linked. Humans are capable of discerning the difference between good and evil because they have a conscience. There are many manifestations of the good that we can pursue. Some, like procreation, are common to other animals, while others, like the pursuit of truth, are inclinations peculiar to the capacities of human beings. To know what is right, one must use one's reason and apply it to Aquinas' precepts. The most important is the primary precept, self preservation. There are also four subsidiary precepts: procreation, education of children, living in society, and worshipping God. In addition to these, there are secondary precepts, which Aquinas did not specify like the other five. Therefore, for a deontological ethical theory they are open to a surprisingly large amount of interpretation and flexibility. Any rule that helps man to live up to the primary or subsidiary precepts can be a secondary precept, for example: * Drunkenness is wrong because it injures one's health, and worse, destroys one's ability to reason, which is fundamental to man as a rational animal (i.e. ...read more.


Natural Law shows what our moral life should be like on the assumption that we are rational beings who live in a world designed by a rational creator. If this is challenged so is Natural Law. However, what we regard as human nature is a product of the culture and society we live in e.g. In the case of sexuality we decide what is natural. Homosexuality can occur in societies therefore God lets it happen so it must be natural on the other hand it could be viewed as a mistake in nature like a handicap. The strengths that can be credited to Natural Law are a product of it's absolutist deontological view of mortality. This is to say that it enables people to establish common rules in order to structure communities Aquinas's view of reason as a means for moral understanding and his idea of a common nature and morality for all people give natural law a universal proposal that goes beyond any one religion or culture. This can be seen as a very positive aspect considering the conflict and disputes that exist between cultures and societies, which uphold similar basic principles for example preserving life at all costs. Natural moral law gives a concrete reason to be moral and provides a firm basis for individuals to be moral and provides a firm basis for individuals to refuse to cross moral boundaries. ...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 ...

    She had great difficulty in talking, eating and sleeping. She was concerned that her husband would be convicted of a serious offence if he helped her to end her life and therefore sought permission of the court for euthanasia. The courts in the United Kingdom reluctantly refused her request, as did the European Court of Human Rights.

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

    We can then go on to apply this theory to humans. A healthy educated person, who has developed their conscience, is better than a sick, ignorant or vicious one. Fulfilling purpose, or as Aquinas would say - turning potential into actual is the essence of goodness.

  1. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Natural Law.

    G E Moore considered this jump from scientific observation to moral behaviour to be illogical and declared: "Defining the 'good' can't be done, because good is a simple property. We may list any number of other things or qualities which possess the property good, but thinking of any of these

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

    One can start to picture the difficulties with natural law- does one let a whole community die for the exception of the torture of one man? Mans purpose is not follow apparent goods! The ironic concept is, is that natural law claims if one follows one reason and purpose at all times then it will achieve a morally just world!

  1. Natural Law

    Therefore, it is un-natural. Another illustration of the end justifying the means is; if killing hundreds of people aids the breaking down of a dictatorship, then the murders are justified because the country is made a better place. The end has justified the means, even thought the means was not necessarily a natural act.

  2. Examine the differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality

    It brings attention to the fact that sexual acts between husband and wife would be seen as perfectly okay as long as it was in private but if it public then it would be considered immoral. However, sexual acts between two homosexuals would be considered immoral whether it was private or in public.

  1. Analyse the important features of Natural Moral Law

    For example, to help an old lady across the road is seen as a good exterior act, however to impress someone can be seen as a bad exterior act.

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

    are acting in a good and beneficial way for everybody individually or as a whole. ?Aquinas? theory of Natural Law provides useful guidelines to decision making? Discuss. There are many views on whether this statement is true or not, there are many good points about the theory however there are many criticisms against it.

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