Natural Law

Mind Map by Sumahlor, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Sumahlor over 6 years ago


A-Level Ethics Mind Map on Natural Law, created by Sumahlor on 05/07/2015.

Resource summary

Natural Law
  1. Created by Thomas Aquinas, inspired by Aristotle
    1. Focuses on the search for 'eudaimonia' - well being
      1. By using reason to examine human nature we find our 'telos' - end or goal
      2. Greek origins
        1. The Stoics taught that all humans have a divine spark within them
          1. This helps us find out how to live according to nature/God
          2. Using reason, we can choose to obey the laws that govern the universe
            1. Aristotle said humanity's purpose is to seek well-being and happiness - Eudaimonia
              1. Only humans can achieve this
              2. Natural law is when morality follows the natural purpose
                1. Everything has a purpose (eg a pen to write). See Aristotle mindmap.


                  1. Humans' purpose is Eudaimonia
                    1. Aristotle: 'reason is, in the highest sense, a man's self.' So Reason = God.
              3. Aquinas's theory
                1. We have a rational nature; reason discovers the laws that lead to humans flourishing
                  1. There are universal, eternal, natural laws
                    1. Supreme good is perfection, but this is impossible in this life
                      1. Eternal laws - laws known only to God by which he made the universe
                        1. Divine Law - The Bible. Can only be seen by believers and if God choses to reveal it.
                          1. NATURAL LAW - The moral law of God built into human nature. We only need reason to see it,
                      2. Every part of the body has its own purpose and must not be used for any other
                        1. This includes the reproductive organs
                          1. So no contraception, homosexual sex, abortion (the most divisive part of Aquinas's theory)
                      3. Natural Inclinations
                        1. God gives us inclinations which lead us to the highest good.
                          1. These help us discover precepts
                            1. The most natural inclination is to achieve good and avoid evil
                              1. Aquinas believed we would never knowingly perform evil
                                1. Because we are designed for perfection
                                  1. If we do evil, it's because it's an apparent good.
                                    1. Reason is what helps us tell the difference.
                          2. Intention
                            1. For an action to be good, both the exterior (action) and the interior (motive) act must be good.
                              1. Good intentions don't always mean good actions
                                1. You can do a good thing for a bad reason. The interior aim must be God's service
                            2. Precepts
                              1. Deontological, absolute laws that help us achieve perfection
                                1. I use the POWER anagram
                                  1. P - protect the innocent
                                    1. O - Ordered society
                                      1. W - Worship God
                                        1. E - Education
                                          1. R - Reproduction
                                            1. These are the primary precepts; they are descriptive precepts
                                              1. From these you can deduce more subjective secondary precepts; eg, to have an ordered society, have laws. To ensure reproduction, do not use contraception.
                                                1. These are subjective; that's why reason is so important
                                                  1. By using reason, we find the right action in every situation.
                                                    1. At times a good action may have a bed side-effect; this is called the Doctrine of Double Effect
                                                      1. The standard of morality is separate from God's will/command
                                                        1. So a non-believer can follow the theory
                                        2. For and against
                                          1. For
                                            1. Simple, reasonable, easy-to-apply rules
                                              1. Flexible; not entirely absolutist but avoids the dangerous over-tolerance of relativist
                                                1. Focuses on human character
                                                  1. All the things we need for survival - food, friends, homes, etc, are morally good
                                                    1. You don't necessarily have to be Christian
                                                      1. Gives a reason to be moral
                                                        1. Gives a common morality
                                                        2. Against
                                                          1. Some precepts cause issues - reproduction especially (bans contraception, homosexuality, even monks and nuns
                                                            1. Clashes of precepts - eg, is a school or a hospital more important
                                                              1. That caring for others is a natural inclination doesn't mean we should follow it (Moore's is/ought gap)
                                                                1. Darwinism - laws of nature are impersonal
                                                                  1. Secondary precepts are subjective - choicemaker may be wrong
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