Explain what is meant by a natural law approach to ethics.

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                                                                                                                  Lenae Frazer L6A

Explain what is meant by a Natural Law approach to Ethics.

    Natural law is an absolutist theory. According to said theory there are easily definable moral absolutes; both right and wrong discovered through reason and observations. These codes are the same in all religions, cultures and times. The laws do not take into account relative situations and do not change to fit the circumstances in which they may be more helpful. The natural order is determined by a supernatural power-most commonly referred to as God. The laws are independent of public opinion and are unchangeable. The natural law exists to assist humans to direct their actions in such a way that they will reach their final purpose and eternal destiny with God.

    The natural law theory was developed by St Thomas Aquinas. He was an absolutist and deontological theorist. This means that he believed that actions were intrinsically right or wrong, irrespective of their consequences. He worked through the 12th century bringing different ideas from different cultures together. His work was heavily influenced by a Greek philosopher Aristotle. The mediaeval church rejected Aristotle’s ideas, as they believed he was trying to replace religion with reason, which the natural law’s basic ideas lie on. However Aquinas showed that if human reason is acknowledged to come from

God then faith and reason can provide people with the best tools for living. He said that our reason could be a guide to our virtues and if we follow our reason, others would not suffer, or would suffer less.

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    Aquinas believed that everything existed for a reason, and had a purpose. He believed that something could be called ‘good’ if it fitted its purpose. If there was a knife, then its purpose would be to cut. A blunt knife would have little reason to survive as it did not fulfil its purpose, however a sharp knife would cut well and its reason for being in the world is to do so. He said that ‘something is good if it does whatever God wanted it to do’. Aquinas distinguished his causes as the ‘efficient cause’ and the ...

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