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What does natural law mean?

Law derived from reason


What are the primary precepts?

Preserving life
Educating children
Worship god
Live in an ordered society


What are the 4 types of law?

Natural law


What is eternal law?

Refers to law which comes from God’s nature as the creator.
A blueprint in the mind of God.
God’s blueprint for humans means we all share a ‘common human nature’


What is divine law?

Principles of natural and moral order are revealed to humans through Divine law. E.g. prophets revealed God’s words.
A manual sent to us e.g. the Bible.


What is Human law?

Understanding natural moral law, we can then formulate human laws e.g. legal system.
Human law should not contradict natural moral law.


What is the main guiding principle?

‘ Good is to be done and evil to be avoided ‘ - Synderesis


What are the secondary precepts?

Precepts derived from primary precepts.


What is the difference between real and apparent good?

Real is away from sins and apparent seem good but disobey primary precepts.


What is double effect?

About the intentions behind an action. Aquinas says ‘Nothing hinders one Act from having two effects, only the other is behind the intention'
Double effect is a principle which helps avoid mistakes in moral situations by using the principle of double effect.


Name the four conditions applying to double effect?

- nature of the act
- the means end condition
- the right intention condition
- the proportionality condition


What does nature of the act mean?

Action must either be morally good or neutral


What does the means-end condition mean?

The bad effect must not be the means by which the good effect is achieved.


What does the right intention mean?

The intention must achieve the good effect


What are the 4 conditions in applying the principle of double effect?

- Nature of the act condition
- The means-end condition
- The right intention condition
- The proportionality condition


nature of an act

The action must either be morally good or indifferent/neutral. Acts such as lying or intentionally killing an innocent person are never morally permissible.


right intention condition

The intention must only be to achieve the good effect. The bad effect must be only an unintended side-effect. If the bad effect is a means of bringing about a good effect is is then immoral. The bad effect must have been foreseen, but is not to be intended.


the means to an end

The bad effect must not be the means by which the good effect is achieved.


proportionality condition

The good effect must have at least be equivalent in importance to the bad effect.


Beatific vision

The ultimate, direct, self communication of God to humanity i.e. Heaven.


Examples of double effect:

The use of morphine to control pain for terminally ill patients; the difference between terror bombing and tactical bombing and torturing one person to save a million people.
Aquinas forbids suicide but in a case of a soldier who sacrifices his life to save his comrades, double effect would require him not to intend to sacrifice his life to save comrades, whereas most people would consider an intentional self-sacrifice to bring out the most loving outcome.


strengths of natural moral law

- In a time of moral uncertainty , it establishes rules by which people can live in an ordered society
- It encourages people to think of some acts such as slavery as being intrinsically wrong
- It is realistic in that it admits that people can make mistakes
- It emphasises virtues
- It can be adapted to a form of non-theistic system


weaknesses of natural moral law

- Its view that we all share a single, common human nature is false
- Does not help atheists about worshipping God in the primary precepts
- Many christians reject its legalistic approach and prefer situationism which focuses more about agape love rather than rules and regulations
- Can lead to immoral outcomes, as with its approach to contraception and to homosexuality.


John Waters

Offers a foundational, universal and absolute approach to ethics. Overall, natural moral law enables people to establish common rules by which people can live in an ordered society.


Bertrand Russell

The universe 'just is'. Never observed the universe existence so we are not entirely sure who created the universe as we were not during that period of time.


Why would some criticise that it is more consequentialist rather than deontological?

The double effect states about the means, however it is rooted on how the outcomes will be. Judges whether an action is good or not.


Jeremy Bentham

Descries natural rights as 'nonsense upon stilts'


John Fry

A neat algorithm for solving moral disputes.


Louis Pojman

Humanity has an essentially rational nature and reason can discover the right action in every situation by an appropriate exceptionalness principle.


What ethical theory is natural law?