Natural Moral Law

Alanis  Harridine
Mind Map by Alanis Harridine , updated more than 1 year ago
Alanis  Harridine
Created by Alanis Harridine over 6 years ago
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A2 level Philosophy and ethics (A2) Mind Map on Natural Moral Law, created by Alanis Harridine on 05/15/2015.

Resource summary

Natural Moral Law
  1. The key feature of NML are that it is based on an absolutist and deontological approach which prescribes moral laws and real duties.
    1. Aristotle
      1. A Greek philosopher, who had a view that humans inherit a sense of right and wrong. "Natural is what which everywhere is equally valid"
        1. However, it is best known as a Christian system of ethics. The bible hints at such ideas: St Paul argues that same morals are known from nature.
      2. Aquinas
        1. The main philosopher of NML, argues that natural law resides within purpose of nature, created by God. It is destiny of humans to achieve the union with God & NML is evident in nature and known through reason. It is also destiny of man to achieve union with God & NML helps them to achieve this "Do good and avoid evil". Man understands Gods law is perceived in 2 ways; 1 through revelation (the bible) and secondly though reason (your intellect). NML is a rational system of ethics but is supposed to find agreement with what is revealed in scripture. For Aquinas a moral error is equivalent to an error in reason. If one is being truly rational one will always discern what is right. Immoral lives are irrational and contradict the teaching of the bible.
          1. He also assumed that human nature is essentially good. However, if humans naturally seek what is good then why do they sometimes choose what is bad? He solves this problem with drawing a distinction between apparent good and real good is what is actually good. A moral error would be choosing an apparent good, mistaking it for real good. For example: stealing food to feed your starving family, it is good for the family to eat and be healthy but it is breaking the law and will be punished for it. They may seem right but are not actually.
            1. Aquinas also came up with other deontological theories called: Interior act (which is where the intention of what you are about to do), and exterior act (is the action itself which you do). Action are only truly moral, if they are good in both interior and exterior acts e.g. you cannot give money to charity if the intention is wrong such as people will like me more, you have to give money to (serve god) help others - real good.
              1. 5 key principles - Primary and secondary precepts of NML:
                1. Preservation of life = Do not commit suicide
                  1. Reproduction = Contraception is wrong
                    1. Education = To go to school is compulsory
                      1. Living in society = Build more homes
                        1. Worshipping God = Set one day a week aside for worship
        2. Bernard Hoose
          1. made a modern interpretation of NML called proportionalism, (not every moral value is absolute, it can be linked to circumstances) - it might be necessary to put aside the inflexible absolutist interpretations of NML and consider other qualities as well as justice and integrity. We should consider a persons body and soul as humans are both. Moral codes should be proportionate to the needs of people and on how useful they are is enabling a fair decision to be made. For example: If a suffering baby is going to die it can be used to justify euthenasia.
          2. Strengths of NML
            1. *Based on an absolutist approach makes it have clear values and certainty makes it able to withstand criticisms. It also focuses on reason following it to be universal and focuses on common moral ideas. *The argument also puts emphasis on purpose giving humans a positive structure in their lives. *NML also fits within theistic/Christian views/ethics.
            2. Weaknesses of NML
              1. *depends on accepting the view that good is what is found in nature. But does this mean nature is good? e.g. are diseases good? *Aquinas assumed that everyone seeks to worship God (Primary precepts). *He also assumes that God created the universe and the moral laws in it, he also believes that we have a particular function to fulfil (not a variety of functions like the modern view). *It is an outdated view. *Being an absolutist argument therefore means there is no understanding for individuals circumstances e.g. rape and contraception.
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