Natural Law Perspectives

Decent Essays

Thomas Aquinas was a proponent of the derivationist perspective of Natural Law, holding that it is possible to derive knowledge of what is good for humans by studying humans themselves (Floyd). In other words, practical judgments regarding the natural ends of human flourishing need to be derived from theoretical proofs about human nature. The most important realization that can be made from this is that life can be classified as the ultimate good, for without life, individuals would not be able to experience any other goods (Floyd). This position varies slightly from Aristotle, who considered eudaimonia to be the ultimate good. However, from this point, it can be argued that all other goods are subservient to this good of life, but – parallel to Aristotle’s perspective – this does not mean that all other goods are insignificant. Human beings also pursue knowledge and relationships, considered to be basic goods because they are contributing components to the ultimate good of life, acting in a capacity that leads to fulfillment (Floyd). In light of the argument that health is a basic good, it can be seen that certain illnesses or states of unhealthiness hinder an individual’s pursuit of what is good, so these states must be avoided.
Aquinas’s view of Natural Law includes a more religious focus than Aristotle’s, as he considers every moral law to be a derivation of eternal law. This eternal law is God’s way of governing human beings toward the common basic goods (Murphy).

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