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Explain the theory of Natural Law.

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Explain the theory of Natural Law. The roots of Natural law originated from Aristotle in the early fourth century. However they were developed later on in the thirteenth century by Christian theologian St Thomas Aquinas. He developed the theory and helped it to become the fundamental basis of catholic moral thinking. But what exactly is Natural law? And how is it applied in every day life today? Aristotle's philosophical line of thinking was concerned with creation. He believed that everything was created with a particular purpose in mind. The two main causes he was concerned with were our efficient cause and our final cause. The efficient cause of something is what causes something to be and the final cause is the end product or its purpose. For example, the efficient cause of a chair is the carpenter and the final cause is for people to sit on it. He believed we all had a particular design and purpose to fulfil and by completing this final cause then we are doing what is good. Aquinas tried to understand how we knew what a particular objects purpose was in life. ...read more.


It is unchanging and everlasting so there is no doubt as to whether it should be followed or not. It is very clear-cut based on determining what is natural. If we understand what our natural causes are then we can determine what is good and do it. This can be established by using logic. Peter Vardy said that natural law could be deduced from an 'examination of human nature and the ends for which humans were created' (Puzzle of ethics). The theory of natural law can be applied to various moral issues. For example Roman Catholics are strong believers that the purpose of human life is to pro-create. For this reason alone, they are totally against any form of contraception because it is preventing what is naturally supposed to happen (i.e. the sperm fertilising the egg). Strict Roman Catholics therefore will not use contraception because they believe they are going against Gods final purpose for them. The Catholic Church also does not accept masturbation, anal sex or homosexuality. This is because it is physically impossible for all of these to create a baby and therefore going against the natural purpose of sex. ...read more.


Abortion would therefore be seen as wrong because it is the destruction of a life, which totally goes against pro-creation where the purpose is creating life. For the same reason Euthanasia is also considered wrong. This is because by accepting euthanasia we are accepting the destruction of a life and not promoting the creating of that life. Natural law does not take factors into consideration and so the fact that the person may be in great pain and helpless or that it may kill the mother to have the baby due to medical reasons is regardless. Natural law at first glance seems to be a rational and adequate theory; this is why it is such an important part of Catholic moral teaching. It follows a moral code that humans are naturally inclined to follow. However is this approach to ethical situations really acceptable in a modern day society? Does it give a balanced view alone or do we need to take factors and situations into consideration as other theories suggest we do? These are all very important questions that need to be contemplated and I shall be doing this more intimately in the next part of my essay. ?? ?? ?? ?? File: 81.doc Printed by ckd 06/12/2001 10:05 ...read more.

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