Natural law theory of Aquinas

NOT simply the criterion of "is it natural?" as discussed re homosexuality in Rachels chapter 3 ---recall that the meaning of the term "unnatural" was unclear and e en if we ta!e it to mean something li!e "what is done in nature" it is not o" ious that this can "e shown to "e wrong in itself Thomas Aquinas famously tried to mediate "etween #hristian faith and reason $specifically Aristotle%s rational philosophy& ---Summa contra Gentiles $argued for 'ianity and answered pagan and (oslem criticisms& ---Summa Theologiae $rational exposition of 'ian dogma& Natural law theory is from the Summa Theologiae )asic assumptions* ---+ternal law , all physicals and moral laws are part of a unified di ine law This di ine law is -od%s plan for the uni erse ---All creatures o"ey this law. /umans alone can #/OO0+ to o"ey the law or not $inanimate o"1ects 1ust follow physical laws2 animals o"ey moral law "y instinct& ---Natural law , that part of the eternal law that can "e understood "y creatures $is "participated in" "y humans& ---3 parts of natural law* ---natural physical law , go erns nonhumans ---natural moral law , go erns humans The content of the natural moral law is #hristian morality $hereafter4 natural law , natural moral law&

5rinciples of natural law
---6 -ood is to "e done4 and e il a oided 5roof* we are attracted to the good and repelled "y e il 0o o" iously true $self-e ident& Only action carried out according to this principle can "e called rational This then is a principle of action* it explains what ma!es action rational4 and what acts are right. Right action see!s the good and a oids e il. N)* this "y itself does little to address the pro"lems of morality. 7e now need to find out what is good and e il8 /ow do we !now the good? 7e are naturally inclined to see! it. /uman inclinations then are the foundation of natural law. The fulfillment of our appetites and inclinations is good. /ow do we !now that?

.)ecause -od ga e us our inclinations 9 appetites to direct us to act2 and we act with the aim of achie ing happiness2 -od wants us to "e happy 9 naturally implanted us with a mechanism to find happiness. ---All li ing things are inclined to reproduce --N) this applies to all li ing things 3& All humans are inclined to !now the -ood ---0ee! to !now -od4 and li e in society ---7e see! to communicate with -od4 and do what we must to li e with others ---N) only humans ha e these spiritual and social inclinations ---N) that certain "commonsense" o"ligations arise from social inclination* ---o"ey the rules of social li ing2 ma!e friends4 help others4 see! !nowledge4 etc.or example* ---<on%t steal $it is antisocial& ---<on%t !ill others $destroying life is e il& ---<on%t !ill yourself $suicide . N) the theory tells us what ma!es the things commanded 9 for"idden right 9 wrong4 and also a technique for deciding no el decisions Now we ha e a system of deciding right 9 wrong )ut we may still as! a"out responsi"ility After all4 Aquinas gi es man%s free will a central role in morality . ):T* we won%t "ecome happy simply "y pursuing e ery inclination and appetite willy-nilly2 we are rational creatures and should use reason as a guide. 3& All li ing things see! to fulfill the "odily appetites and inclinations that promote the race ---:nite with the opposite sex in lo e4 foster offspring4 educate the young4 a oid anything that interferes with procreation. ---3 (orality is "ased on human inclinations 7hat specifically are the human inclinations? 6& All things see! continued existence ---5reser e continued existence $life& and a oid the destruction of it ---After all4 all things see! continued existence2 this is again o" ious ---N) Aquinas is saying inanimate things see! continued existence too4 which is a rather odd way of loo!ing at things4 "ut o" iously all li ing things see! continued life. All of the specifics of #hristian morality will follow from these "asic inclinations. To do this4 we need to identify the inclinations we ha e and disco er the hierarchy of them -which are most important and which less so4 "ecause our inclinations may "e at odds. destroying life& ---<on%t di orce $we are supposed to unite with the opposite sex=& ---<on%t ha e adultery ---<on%t ha e sex with same sex The point was not to create a new system of ethics "ut "asically to "1ustify" or "rationali>e" #hristian ethics.

you fire at the "ush and later say "B didn%t !now he was in there" "ut you also made no effort to loo! in the "ush4 or ignored the rustling in the "ranches ---Bn general4 "loo!ing the other way2" "B don%t want to !now4" "ignorance of the law is no excuse" ---ignorance is merely an excuse for wrongdoing 3& Antecedent ignorance* you are ignorant4 "ut it is not your fault you are ignorant $you were "eing considerate 9 careful&2 and you would ha e acted otherwise had you !now ---e. #onscience is really your reasoning applied to your acts4 NOT a !ind of intuition. you are responsi"le for the ignorance $you ought to ha e !nown "etter& ---e. 7hen does ignorance excuse us from responsi"ility? <istinguish among 3 !inds of ignorance* 6& #oncomitant ignorance* ignorance that would not ha e changed you "eha ior.g.g you loo! in the "ush4 and see no one4 and thin! it is safe to fire at it for practice4 and would not ha e fired if you !new someone was in there. #onscience is not a source of !nowledge "ut a form of reasoning4 and could "e wrong.e. you want to !ill an enemy4 and fire your gun into the "ushes. <eontological +thics Teleological s. ---ignorance accompanies act "ut does not cause act 3& #onsequent ignorance* ignorance chosen in order to a oid responsi"ility ---i. 7e are responsi"le only for our oluntary acts 0o the role of !nowledge in action "ecomes important. #learly your ignorance does not a"sol e you of responsi"ility. . Bt is the intention $aim& of your act that ma!es an act good or "ad #onscience and (orality C* )ut if B ha e a clear conscience4 doesn%t that mean my acts were good? A* No. ---e.ree 7ill4 oluntary actions4 9 responsi"ility 7hen is an act oluntary $and hence according to or against the law&? ?oluntary action . Aou don%t !now if your enemy is there4 "ut you fire e en if you !new he was. acts chosen "y the will4 with !nowledge of the goal@purpose@end the act aims at. <eontological ---is it the #ON0+C:+N#+0 of our actions4 or the BNT+NTBON04 that ma!e an act good? ---Aquinas says4 intentions ---so these are "asically deontological ethics ---"ut* foreseeable consequence still matter ---teleological in so far as consequences matter if there follow from nature of the act $we !now that such acts will produce such consequences& "ut not insofar as unforeseea"le@accidental consequences <ON%T matter..g.

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