Explain Natural Law Theory Essay

1128 Words Jan 26th, 2013 5 Pages
Explain Natural Law theory
In this essay, I will discuss the theories behind Natural Law, as well as the qualities it is seen to possess. I will explain Aquinas’ concepts and theory on Natural Law, discussing eudaimonia and the doctrine of the double effect. Finally, I will reflect on some of the positive and negative aspects, in summarising Natural Law theory. It is important to highlight that Natural Laws differ from acts which occur naturally. There are many aspects to Natural Law, the first being the concept that it is absolute; therefore it includes set rules to follow. Thomas Aquinas believed that these rules were the primary precepts, along with the secondary precepts, which are obtained from natural morality within humans.
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This means humans have an innate understanding of the concept “That good is to be done and to avoid evil”. This natural reasoning, helped to form the basic principles for how to determine the right action within a situation. As previously mentioned, Natural Law was originally based upon the idea that all humans strive for eudaimonia, although Aquinas had his own interpretation of this concept that upheld Gods satisfaction should be the true purpose of life for humans. In order to achieve eudaimonia and follow Gods plan, Aquinas observed five main aims that he felt were inbuilt in humans, due to God creating us with the ability to reason, these were named the Primary Precepts. The Primary precepts are: ‘Worshiping God’, ‘Fulfilling an ordered society’, ‘Reproducing’, ‘Learning’, and ‘Defending the innocent’. It is from following these five rules; we derive the concept of Secondary precepts. These rules cannot be broken, and are absolute, as well as being universal. The secondary precepts are there to set out a pathway for the primary precepts to be implemented. As an example, the Primary precept ‘worship god’ may be supported by the Secondary precept ‘set one day a week aside for worship.’ When actively applying Natural Law theory to individual situations, the word Causistry is used. If Natural Law is followed, then for a doctor, terminating a patient wishing to be euthanatized would be morally wrong. However, if the doctor injects the patient with a large amount of

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