RS: A2: Ethics: Ethical theory: Natural law Natural law, authority and justiceAquinas ar...
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Natural law authority and justice

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Education      Spiritual      News & Politics      

Transcripts - Natural law authority and justice

  • 1. RS: A2: Ethics: Ethical theory: Natural law Natural law, authority and justiceAquinas argued in the natural law tradition that human beings only function properly in acommunity when some human beings have authority over others. There must be leaders and thosewho are led. For Aquinas, political authority- the right to rule a country- is given by God, who is thesource of all authority. In this, Aquinas followed the teaching of the apostle Paul who, in Romans 13,claimed that Christians must obey governments as they hold power in the name of God. Unlike Paul,however, Aquinas put limits on the duty of obedience: either because of the way that authority hasbeen obtained, or because of the use made of it. If authority has been gained immorally or is put toimmoral use, a Christian is not obliged to obey.In Natural Law and Justice, Lloyd Weinreb argues that the social contract theories of Hobbs, Lockeand Rousseau were all continuations of the natural law tradition, but with the state playing the partof God as ultimate authority. Social contract theory is the basis for modern constitutionalgovernment and democratic voting, which replaces the ‘divine right of kings’ whereby God handedpolitical authority to the sovereign. The 20th century Catholic scholar Jacques Maritain, writing in hisbook Christianity and Democracy argues that democracy depends on the belief that God holdsultimate authority: ‘... from the very fact that authority has its source in God and not in man, no manand no particular group of men has in itself the right to rule others.’