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The moral law

In this chapter we study about the concept of moral law in contemporary culture, we will
begin with brief examination of the most prevalent attitude about it. After this introduction and
we will prove the essence of moral law and then concentrate on the concepts of natural moral
law and its dimension. Finally, we will cast light on the intrinsic limitations of the law in regard
to moral behavior.
The essence of moral law
In this chapter we study the different kinds of law. the “chemical laws” and
“physical laws” “sociological laws” “state laws”, and “god laws’. The word “law” concerns very
different realities. What is the common element in all these uses that allows us to call
something a “law”? We say that is the reference to rules or norms according to which an event
happens or should happen.

However, “law “for the particular sciences (chemistry, physical, sociology, economics etc.)
is different from moral “law”. This is to for a reason. First of all, scientific laws are partial, that is
they regard particular aspects and ends and not the global end of human existence. Secondly,
scientific laws do not create a duty in the subject, that is they do not appeal to a person’s free

 Moral law is kind of rule and measure of human acts

Throughout our lives, we encounter many kinds of laws from the juridical ordinances of
the state to those of the Church, from school regulation to those governing leisure activities.
From codified norms to the unwritten laws of which friendship, family life, and so forth are
based. In all these instances law concerns the rule and measure of human acts. But can we
consider all these sic et simpliceter “moral laws”? Clearly not! we know that we are dealing
with an authentic moral law when it presents the following characteristics.
1. It concerns an order of reason.
2. It is an order directed to the common good.
3. It proceeds from a legitimate authority that guides the community.
4. It is promulgated.
Law and rational order
We know that moral acts bear the specific imprint of humanity “rationally”. It belongs to the reason in
fact to order actions to their proper end. Consequently, the moral law as the rule and measure of
human acts must be of the rational order. St. Thomas affirms that pertains to reason and specifies that it
concerns a universal proposition of the practical reason aimed at directing action.

St. Thomas speaks of action as the result of a practical syllogism in which the law serves as a
premise alongside description of a concrete situation. The logic of practical reasoning can be
schematized thus.

In maintaining that law is of the rational order we do not mean to exclude the role of the
fact if the reason succeeds in moving a person to does so by virtue of the will. We want to be clear
however that the law’s formal aspect derives from the practical reason and not the will. This is because
the will cannot be the rule and measure of its own acts. Speaking metaphorically, we can say that reason
without will is paralytic, while will without reason is blind. A blind man cannot find the road and a
paralytic cannot follow it.

Law and common good

We would content ourselves with defining law as an order of the reason but without understanding
from where and to where the reason orders us to move. This is the great question of the material
element of the law. If as we have seen every action is in view of an end a good the law’s task is indicate
the right relationships between human actions and the ends of the virtuous life.

Man is a person that is an individual in relation. His social, political nature indicates that he cannot
reach his end his true good. Except with other people in community. By devoting himself to the
realization of his authentic good, a person at the same time realizes the good of his community. Vice
versa pledging himself to the good of the community a person also realizes his own personal good

The community in fact is more than the simple sum of individuals who comprise it. Community is
essentially characterized by the order that reigns between the parts in view of the end to be reached. As
we have already shown in ethics the end is configured as the good. Thus, the common good is
something more than the simple sum of goods for individuals in a community. It is that to which all
individual goods tend in an ordered way. Now since the law says order to the good, this must necessarily
mean also the common good.

Law and legitimate authority

If the law is concerned with ordering things to the common must proceed from the subject of
the common good, that is from the community or from someone who legitimately. Exercises the
function of caring for the community.
The law’s promulgation
It is evident that an unknown precept cannot obligate. Juridical obligation follows a formal act of
promulgations that is when the law is inserted into the official body of ordinances.

Moral obligations however is linked with the complex dynamic of conscience in this sense the law
must be interiorized within the moral experience of the subject while its content must appear in the
light of the fundamental principle to do good and avoid evil.

Effects of the law

The effect of the moral law of a law that is really worthy of the name is to make men good that is to
make them we said in chapter 4, virtue is characterized by full submission to reason. The law
is precisely an instruction addressed to reason to help it regulate action.

This matters as much for the individual as for society. The individual is virtuous when all his faculties
tend harmoniously to the good under the guidance of legislating reason. Society is virtuous when all its
components tend harmoniously to the common good then must show a superior degree of virtue in a
more profound submission to the dedicate of right practical reason for the common good.

The natural law

It’s very important to keep repeating that reason not being an absolute principle does not create
the moral law according to its own pleasure. We have defined “just” and “right” as an ordered relation
to an appropriate good. if a right derives not from man but from nature it rational formulation is known
as “natural law” if however a right derives from human beings on the basis of convention. Its rational
formulation as known as “human positive law”.

Relationship between the natural law and human law

We have often repeated that human nature by virtue of its rationality inclines toward social life.
Hence the exigency of organizing society around the common good derives from human nature itself.
Herein lies the natural foundation of man’s legislative activity.

Now this kind of training which compels trough fear of punishment is the discipline of laws.
Therefore, in order that man might have peace and virtue it was necessary for laws to be framed for as
the philosopher says as man is the most noble of animals if he be perfect in virtue. Man is furnished with
the light of reason for his own guidance and that of those entrusted to him. The natural law these
imposes the making of the laws. Does this mean that every human law derives from natural law? In
principle they should laws in fact should manifest the just relations expressed in natural law according to

Natural law and eternal law

We have said many times that human reason does not create value but discovers it in reality. It
grasps the order of the natural inclinations and the order of the precepts of the natural law. This project
realized in every thing we find the things natural inclinations on the basis of which they tend in an
ordered way to their end this happened in virtue of the eternal law.