What Is The Natural Law? What Are Its Principles? How Does It Relate To Positive Laws?

1992 words - 8 pages

In order to understand the concept of natural law and its principles it is important to understand what Aquinas sought to achieve with his political philosophies. Prior to Aquinas, the mainstream of Christian political thought had been rooted in faith. Faith, by its very definition is the belief in something for which there is no logical or rational justification for. Since the very concept of religion was based on faith, reason was thought to be inimical to faith. Aquinas sought to marry faith and reason and arrive at a political theory that forged a union between the faith of Christian principles and the reason of Greek philosophy.

In the process he rejected one of the central notions ...view middle of the document...

He had no wish to see priests as secular princes, or the Pope as the political emperor of Christendom. Since the fellowship of the Church was universal and Aquinas followed Aristotle's thinking that a State was something that was limited to size and number. Hence, there should be one church and many states; it is these concessions which reveal Aquinas as a man of the modern world, a world in which the old Christian ideal of a universal holy empire had perished in face of the reality of ever more vigorously independent nation states.

Aquinas was in no sense a mere reviver of Aristotle. He improved on Aristotle's notion of the state as a natural institution by incorporating an idea which though not Christian in origin, had become a crucial notion in Christian thinking, that of Natural Law. Since he believed it natural for men to live under governments and that governments cannot conform to nature unless they are just: and the criteria by which such a justness can be judged is something that is laid down by the Creator and visible to the eye of reason in all men. In other words, the positive law of states must conform to those fundamental moral principles traditionally known as Natural Law. The attraction to such a notion of Natural law to a Christian political philosopher is obvious; since Natural Law can be understood as the law of God, it is the Church and not the State which can speak on the subject with authority; and once the Church is recognized as the ultimate arbiter as to what is just and unjust, its superiority over the state, and its authority to criticize the state if needed are logically entailed.

Although it is true that Aquinas articulated a more elaborate theory of Natural Law than any of his predecessors, it is still nevertheless filled with ambiguity.

Firstly, there is the seeming conflict with law and virtue. When expounding the traits of virtue, Aquinas states: "Virtue, which is an operative habit, is a good habit productive of good works." Aquinas's understanding of virtue therefore, presupposes the voluntariness of the acts that proceed from virtue. Good works are human acts and human acts are voluntary. Human acts are good to the extent that they conform to what reason judges to be suitable to the ultimate human good of the agent. Therefore, virtuous and human acts stem from intrinsic principles. Extrinsic coercion is opposed to human acts since such acts are characterized by the fact that they proceed from intrinsic principles. It seems that law, to the extent that is employs and binds people against their wills, cannot lead to virtue. For example, a prisoner in handcuffs by the very fact of being restrained, cannot be learning the virtue of controlling his anger. The fact that he is not hitting his arresting officer is not attributable to the intrinsic principles of his reason and will, but to the exterior restraint of handcuffs and the law which imposes them on him.

However, Aquinas still claims that...

Other Essays On What Is The Natural Law? What Are Its Principles? How Does It Relate To Positive Laws?

this is for the county wide laws of life essay, her is my story and maybe you can relate to it too. - north forsyth highschool / literature - essay

493 words - 2 pages Savannah McDowell Laws of Life Essay Going through a traumatic experience at a young age such as i ,16 can alter a child in ways you would never think of. At night when i lay down i think of how my mental status could be if maybe what is going on rn and what has happened to me in the past had not of happened at all.Would i be a normal mentally stable kid who doesn't know what she wasn't supposed to learn yet,i will never have the privilege

Volcanoes, What is a Volcano,The types of volcanoes,How are Volcanoes formed,How is magma turned to lava

397 words - 2 pages volcanoes. These form from quiet eruptions of fluid lava followed by explosive eruptions of viscous lava.How is Magma turned into Lava?Extremely high temperature and pressure cause the rock to melt and become liquid rock or magma. When a large body of magma has formed, it rises through the denser rock layers toward Earth's surface. Magma that has reached the surface is called lava.How are volcanoes formed?Volcanoes are formed when magma seeps through

What Are The Main Changes In French Agriculture Since 1945 And What Challenges Does It Face Today?

1612 words - 7 pages improving the land service.As for price support, the European Common Agricultural Policy began, at the same period, to be in charge of it. During thirty years, the CAP favoured intensive and productive agriculture by guaranteeing the farmers the same minimum price 'irrespective of how much they produced, of world prices, or of prevailing levels of supply and demand' (McCormick 2005: 189). This led to economic dependency, to massive surplus that

What is Parkour? Who made Parkour? How did Parkour come to be what it is today? - English 001 - Essay

1833 words - 8 pages mentally, but it also has its risks. Agtarap 4 When it comes to Parkour, you need to understand what into it, like vaults, balance, discipline, and confidence are all a combination of what Parkour is. A vault in Parkour is to jump toward and pivoting off the obstacle with one’s hand. According to Parkour and the City: Risk, Masculinity, and Meaning in a Postmodern Sport by Jeffrey L. Kidder, there were three vaults that were the most popular: speed

Quasars - what is it and what does it do - Science yr 10 - Research paper

638 words - 3 pages lobes by telescopes. Scientists use quasars to study the intervening galaxies and diffuse gas. Quasars are ideal for this as they are compact point sources. The brightest Quasar in space is 3C 273, which was also the first Quasar to be found, in the late 1950’s. It is in the constellation Virgo, 2.5 billion light years away from earth. From the distance of 33 light years, it would shine as brightly as our sun, its luminosity 4 trillion times that of

How does the Birmingham Letter relate to you - Tougaloo College World Literature - Essay

686 words - 3 pages . King voiced strong points about injustices of our people that really spoke to me. Dr. King’s letter inspires me to stand strong in my beliefs, encourages me to stand up for what is right, and enlightens me on how to be a leader and better man overall. As a result of Dr. King’s words of determination in the letter, it inspired me to never waver in my ideals and convictions. When he was being criticized by white clergymen and the white moderates, he

How does Moana relate to the Polynesian life - World History - Essay

1045 words - 5 pages mountain and you can see that the special ceremony headdress is resting on a stick. So, this is how Moana is very accurate to the Polynesian lifestyle. Even though the movie is mostly accurate there are still some things that make it inaccurate. The main inaccuracy was the main character in the movie. Moana was the main character that had to restore the heart but, even in ancient time women were still under the control of men. The movie would have

Identity, What is the identity how and whats creating it - Sociology - Essay

1007 words - 5 pages was born as a boy and in their 20’s starts to have different preferences etc, proofs that identity can change as well as our beliefs and values. As a conclusion I would like to bring a quote of Ted Hughes (Iron Man) ‘you are what you choose to be’. Identity is an individual thing and as we go through the life it might change or it might not. It depends on our own experience as well as our choices and the environment we are in. We might stay the

Economics of Sweden : the history of how sweden became what it is today. - Econ - essay

1850 words - 8 pages help ensure that high debt doesn’t accumulate and that debt isn’t passed on to future generations” (Sweden Business). The elimination of high debt that spawn across generation was very important for the economy of Sweden which allowed it to get its economic status. Today, Sweden has a highly diverse and competitive economy. A big reason for this is because of its openness towards trade and for being a more export driven country. These reasons are

Leprosy ; includes what bacteria it is caused by, the orgin of the disease, how many people are affected by it in the united states and in alaska during 1999 and 2000, and more. 3 pages long

524 words - 3 pages leprosy in the past, they decide to build leper colonies, so leprosy wouldn't spread throughout the towns. There are cures today, so we don't need any leprosy colonies. The medication takes about six months to cure lepromatous form, and about two years to cure the tuberculoid form.Today leprosy is very rare in the United States, but in India there are about 500,000 new cases every year. This is why it is very important that education about this disease, and the medication for this disease is available for people around the world.

How much is Macbeth a victim of the forces of evil and what degree does he embrace evil - English - Essay

727 words - 3 pages Essay: How much is Macbeth a victim of the forces of evil and what degree does he embrace evil? Introduction: Thesis: Evil is a destructive force, it causes harm to those who embrace it and their victims. In Shakespeare 's Macbeth, the protagonist Macbeth plummets into the hands of evil. Evil is what drives people to commit unnatural actions of destruction. These actions are caused by Macbeth’s overwhelming greed and ambition. The forces of evil

Similar Papers

Rule Of Law And What Are Its Benefits And Defects

2674 words - 11 pages and all three knew that they wanted to eat each other, hence kill each other. A kills B, sharing B's body with C. Is this is murder or manslaughter? Is there a claim for 'self-defence' as it was 'necessary' for the killer to not be killed by the deceased? The laws do not expressly provide on how to deal with this specific situation and judgement must then be made on moral principles ("principles" are discussed by Dworkin under the Modern

What Is True Power And How Does It Relate To Us As Human Beings? English Expository Essay

543 words - 3 pages “What is True Power” Aileen Gonzalez 3rd period 9/18/17 Have you ever wished you could be a superhero? Well, what if I told you already are but haven’t discovered your powers yet. Everyone has powers to make a change and has the true power to do it. I believe that true power is the capacity to make a difference, start an influence, and be a true hero. Everyone has the power to make a change but it’s up to us when and how we want to use it. We

Refection Paper: Laws Are Important (Law Code Of King Hammurabi) By Beav

320 words - 2 pages Refection paper laws are importantLaws are important to keep the citizens in line and to maintain the peace. With out laws there's nothing but chaos. The first Babylonian empire is best known for the Law Code of King Hammurabi, circa 1750 BC, purportedly handed down by the god Shamah. The laws of Moses derive from Hammurabi's code. The laws themselves are preserved on a 90-inch stone stele that was uncovered in Susa in modern times. It had been

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

1509 words - 7 pages moral decisions and reach our ultimate telos as according to Aquinas any moral love automatically is in accordance with natural law and if you are a Christian Divine law also. These laws are needed as ‘right is based, not upon men’s opinions, but upon Nature’ as said by Cicero. This is a helpful method for making moral decisions as it gives humans something definitive to look at and gives humans an understanding of how the laws we have to live by