Natural law new version pmb ppt (2)
An exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of natural law as derived from Aquinas.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Natural law new version pmb ppt (2)
“Natural law is the sharing in the
eternal law by intelligent creatures”.
Does natural = good? youtube
Origin: Aristotle & The Stoics
‘The natural is that which is equally valid
and depends not on being or not being ...
It is unchangeable’ .
Nicomachean Ethics : Book V Chapter 7
‘The law is right reason in agreement with
Cicero De Republica III xxii
Aristotle’s teleological worldview
Everything has a telos or purpose
The telos comes from the nature (form,
design) of a thing.
The efficient cause is anything that brings
about the final cause eg going to school
(efficient) produces A grades(final) which
provides education (telos of human life)
What is the natural purpose of….
Aristotle sees humans as “rational animals”,
so we have reason and animal instincts.
Only by using our reason can we be moral
agents (and knowledge is a natural or
Our reason can frustrate this telos or
1224 - 1274
But derived from the teleological worldview
Eudaimonia – the telos of man
The telos for Aristotle was a fulfilled, happy
Eudaimonia – human flourishing.
Aquinas believed there was a more perfect
and fulfilling telos – God.
We have reason to discern the moral
principles to live by.
Unrelated good - God
“Our ultimate end
God, who alone
can fill our will to
the brim because
goodness”. Thomas Aquinas
Rational appetites – we have…
Natural appetites we share with animals.
Sense appetites such as love, fear, hate.
Rational appetites that make us special.
“Whatever is contrary to the order of reason
is contrary to the order of human
beings….the good of the human being is to
be in accordance with reason.” Aquinas
Four ideas of law in Aquinas
The designer’s plan
A manual sent to us
What we observe
What we write down
How to flourish (Aquinas)
The idea of our true human nature
Look how you’ve
grown! And so
wise! Exercise 3.6
Aquinas’ starting point - synderesis
“Do good and avoid evil”
General teleological principle
Innate – a priori
“The habitual knowledge of first
principles” - Aquinas Exercise 3.7
There are five:
Preservation of life
Live in society
Can you think up an
remember these by?
Q. Which of these natural goods
would you accept today?
You are a Martian landing in the UK.
Would you observe humans pursuing these
five ends (primary precepts) ?
Which end(s) would you change? Can you
change it/them to something similar, but
more up to date?
3.8 clip 2
Are an application of the primary precepts
Exercise: in two columns fill in the primary
precepts and some secondary precepts
which are applications of them.
Self preservation and preservation of others
Do not murder
Do not abort unborn
Defend the weak
Do not commit suicide
Example: primary precept preservation of life
Veritatis splendor (1995)
“In order to perfect himself in his specific
order, the person must do good and avoid
evil, be concerned for the transmission and
preservation of life, refine and develop the
riches of the material world, cultivate social
life, seek truth, practise good and
contemplate beauty.” para 51
How have the primary precepts altered?
Real and apparent goods
Aquinas thought people couldn’t sin
deliberately because of synderesis.
A real good is good according to NL.
An apparent good is a rational decision to
pursue something that doesn’t perfect our
nature, and “is opposed to the universal
judgement of reason” – Aquinas ST I-II Q58 a5
Sexual ethics -
how do we interpret the application of the primary
precept of reproduction?
Continuation of species sex is for
Therefore, contraception is wrong.
What if sex is not just for reproduction?
What if the function of sex is also :
b). Human bonding ??
And what if pleasure comes first!!!
Humanae Vitae 1967
“Every marital act must of necessity retain
its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of
human life, as a result of laws written into
the actual nature of human beings..this
teaching is in harmony with human reason”.
Do you agree?
a false inference……..
Sex may not be just for reproduction
We can observe sex having more purposes
If so…the inference is false…from natural
It’s based on partial observation of the telos
Ultimate purpose: to reach eternal
destiny with God
“ Man needs to be directed to his
supernatural end in a higher way.”
Aquinas II.i.Q91 art 4
Reason agrees with this, and so we
should not be enslaved by our
Note: to Cicero and the stoic NL theorists our
passions were the great enemy.
Humans are work in progress to achieve our
ultimate end or telos.
This ultimate end is to flourish as human beings
(Greek: eudaimonia = flourishing)
We can use our reason (God-given) to derive
and interpret the design imprinted naturally (in
nature..hence NATURAL LAW)
Universality – Nuremberg trials
Rational – “pattern of life according to
reason”, based on free choice.
Flexible in secondary precepts.
There isn’t one human nature.
There isn’t one way of reasoning eg
Buddhist way different from scientific.
There is no purpose – Richard Dawkins.
Derives an “ought” from an “is” – from state
of nature to what’s good.
Final thought: was Paul a NL
in your own
“The Gentiles do not have the Law; but they do by
instinct what the Law commands, they are their own
law, even though they do not have the Law. Their
conduct shows that what the commands say, is
written in their hearts. Their consciences also show
that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes
accuse them and sometimes defend them.’
Romans 2: 14-15
Aquinas (22 multiple choice questions)
Link to the website for games and more questions