Explain how Aquinass theory of Natural Law can be used to decide on the right course of action. (25 Marks)

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Explain how Aquinas’s theory of Natural Law can be used to decide on the right course of action. (25 Marks)

Natural Moral Law includes those ethical theories which state that there is a natural order to our world that should be followed. This natural order is determined by some supernatural power. Natural Law originated in the philosophy of Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) and was developed by Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274). It is an absolute theory of ethics that is rooted in our human nature and our search for genuine happiness and fulfilment. Aquinas used the ideas of Aristotle and the Stoics as an underpinning for Natural Law that:

  • Human beings have an essential rational nature given by God in order for us to live and flourish.
  • Even without knowledge of God, reason can discover the laws that lead to human flourishing.
  • The Natural Laws are universal and unchangeable and should be used to judge the laws of particular societies.
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Like Aristotle, Aquinas concludes that humans aim for some goal or purpose, but does not see this as eudemonia which Aristotle saw as the final goal for humans (supreme happiness/good). Humans for Aquinas are above all made “in the image of god” and so the supreme good must be the development of this image i.e. perfection. However unlike Aristotle, Aquinas did not think that this perfection was possible in this life. For Aquinas, Natural Law i.e. the theory that an eternal absolute moral law can be discovered by reason which is a reflection of Gods eternal law which is ...

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