To What Extent Is Natural Law Useful In Making Moral Decisions. Barr Beacon School Essay

1509 words - 7 pages

“To what extent does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision making” Discuss [40]
Natural law is an absolute deontological theory that originated from Aristotle the Stoics and Cicero. It states that there is an order to the universe and all things work better when they act according to order or purpose. Thomas Aquinas decided to adapt the natural law theory and apply his Christian beliefs to it and it was further adapted by other modern philosophers such as Hugo Grotius and John Finnis.
As part of the foundation for the theory of natural law, Aristotle stated that the purpose of human life was to reach a state of eudaimonia which is happiness in the sense of fulfilment. To Aristotle, this isn't just a basic telos of human life but a supreme good of human life that is only found when you have reached your telos. The only way to reach this supreme good is to live a life according to natural reason. However, Aquinas says that the purpose of human life is to do what God intended them to do which is to achieve perfection by seeking union with God. This is due to the fact that humans are made in the image of God and the supreme good is the development of this image. This idea of having a telos of achieving eudaimonia would help aiding moral decisions because if humans are striving for a life of fulfilment we would not purposely do badly as that wouldn't give us a sense of fulfilment I would do the opposite and make us feel bad about ourselves and naturally humans do not want this which is also supported by the natural law theory. On the other hand, some people find fulfilment in doing things that most people would find ethically wrong for example some people find stealing gives them a sense of fulfilment as they can easily gain what other people struggle to get and that makes them feel good about themselves. In terms of Aquinas’ purpose of perfection, it makes sense that if we are striving for perfection it makes sense that we would not knowingly do bad.
According to Aquinas, a moral life is one that is lived according to Christian which is the same as a Christian way of life. Reason is the ability to think about something understand it then act accordingly based on human nature. This places human law as being the light of reason that is placed in each person by God which is based on the key precept of doing good and avoid evil. Even before Aquinas had adapted this theory Cicero had said that ‘True law is the right reason in agreement with nature’. Following this will allow us to reach moral decisions however this may not always be the right decision. Sometimes we follow what is the apparent good which is not a real ‘good’ and in turns causes us to do bad. We have to follow the right use of reason to make the right decision. It can be argued that this is a confusing idea as Cicero does not explicitly state how one can differentiate between the apparent good and the right good. In agreement with Aquinas and Cicero the fact that natu...


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