Explain Natural Law

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Explain Natural Law

The natural law approach to morality states that there is a natural order to our world that should be followed, determined by a supernatural power, and has a long history. The earliest theory of Natural Law originated from the Stoics, who believed there was a fundamental design and purpose to the universe (the Logos) and that recognition of this is the basis of morality. Cicero recognized that ‘true law is right reason in agreement with nature’. In the 13th century Aquinas used the ideas from the Stoics and Aristotle, who viewed that everything has a final cause, and it is supremely good to fulfill this, to give an adaption of Natural Law to underpin Christianity in his book Summa Theologica, which is now the basis or Roman Catholic moral theology.

Thomas Aquinas noticed that ‘When nature is observed there seem to be certain laws… ordained by God’. He argued that God created the world with a purpose in mind. He felt that by using our essential rational nature given by God, we can discover this purpose, and judge how to act to fulfill it and thus flourish. He believed that the final cause of humans is to follow the natural law and reach God in heaven. He considered that natural law was the moral code to which humans are naturally inclined towards. It is also a ‘reflection’ of the eternal law of God- the principles by which God made and controls the universe. Moral life is the life lived ‘according to reason’.         

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Something is morally right if its final cause is carried out. We must use reason to allow something to move from potentiality to actuality. Consequently, the act of homosexuality for example, is wrong because it is annulling the “goals of the creator’s sexual design” (from an article by Duncan Dornor), it is not allowing the fulfillment of the final cause of sex- procreation.

Since Natural Law is based on reason, in principle it can be used by anyone. St. Paul wrote in Romans, “Even the Gentiles know in their hearts the law”. Aquinas believed there is an a priori standard ...

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