Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ethical theory

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Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ethical theory (12)

The strengths that can be ascribed to natural law are a product of its absolutist deontological view of morality. This is to say that it enables people to establish common rules in order to structure communities. This can be an attractive option in a society such as our, enduring a relativist era that is suffering from a break down in traditional social structures and moral uncertainty.

Aquinas’s view of reason as a tool for moral understanding and his idea of a common nature and morality for all people gives natural law a universality that goes beyond any one religion or culture. This can be seen as a very positive aspect considering the intercultural strife and disharmony that exists between cultures and societies which all uphold similar basic principles such as conserving life.

Natural moral law gives a concrete reason to be moral and provides a firm basis for individuals to refuse to cross moral boundaries. It also provides justification and support for those ideas popular in today’s world such as human rights, whilst condemning actions such as torture, irrespective of consequences. Natural law also provides a way of living, giving guidance on day-today questions of how to live life and then links them to the fundamental principles of life. It provides a complete system of moral living in step with what it is to be human. This may be a most attractive proposition for some, which suggests that it is most certainly strength of natural moral law.

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Some have challenged Aquinas. They have questioned the existence of a common natural law that is apparent and self-evident. One who made such a challenge was Neilson In his article ‘An examination of the Thomistic theory of natural moral law’. Neilson argued that human nature isn’t as self-evident as Aquinas claims and cites anthropological studies such as Scandinavians who killed their elderly relatives in order to let them into Valhalla, claiming that these differing moral standards cast serious doubt over the idea of a common natural law within all human societies. Nielson goes on to say that Natural law ...

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