Explain Aquinas Natural Law theory (25 marks)

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Explain Aquinas’ Natural Law theory (25 marks)

Thomas Aquinas was a 13th century monk who studied Aristotle’s philosophy. He developed his Natural Law from these studies. Natural law is an absolute, deontological theory which states that morals are issued by God to nature. It includes 5 primary precepts of which Aquinas believed were the basis of living a moral life. The Natural Law, as applied to the case of human beings, requires greater precision because of the fact that we have reason and free will. It is the of nature humans to act freely (i.e. to be provident for ourselves and others) by being inclined toward our proper acts and end. That is, we human beings must exercise our natural reason to discover what is best for us in order to achieve the end to which their nature inclines. Furthermore, we must exercise our freedom, by choosing what reason determines to naturally suit to us, i.e. what is best for our nature.

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Aquinas looked particularly at Aristotle’s theory about the final cause and prime mover. The final cause being the purpose of everything and the prime mover, the thing that is pushing everything towards its final cause. From this he made 5 assumptions: Everything in nature has a purpose; God created all nature; failure to develop nature to do its purpose is an imperfection; God’s moral laws can be known through reasoning; and natural law is part of God’s divine plan. To summarise, there are certain laws of nature that we should follow in order to become perfect and reach our purpose/final ...

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