Miss Sarah Nadwick

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 63
  • Published : March 24, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Natural Law as an ethical system 15 marks

Natural law is a rational theory, which doesn’t need you to believe in God to understand it. You could be a Darwinian atheist and believe in natural law derived by empirical observation, with the primary precept of survival - preservation of life. Furthermore, it is a clear-cut approach as it sets out an absolutist approach with a set of rules that everyone should follow if they aim to do what is good. The set of rules in natural law is the primary precepts. To further embellish these rules are the secondary precepts that help instruct and explain how to follow the primary precepts appropriately. This also means that it is easy to understand how to follow the rules so everyone in society is able to. For example, one of the primary precepts is Reproduction. If we did not have the secondary precept of what is acceptable and not in reproduction and how to look after your children then some immoral things could be seen as acceptable as they follow the primary precept.

In addition, these primary precepts such as peace in society and preservation of life are reasonable and logical rules that are common in all cultures and therefore everyone can understand and follow these rules easily to make moral, sound decisions. Natural moral law can also be flexible even though there is a set of solid rules but secondary precepts can change depending on circumstances, culture and worldview. Furthermore, double effect justifies good actions even if they do lead to unintended bad consequences such as death which conflicts with the precept of preservation of life.

However, a strong concern of natural law is the definition of good as it is subjective and personal. Therefore any decision could be seen as morally justified in natural law as long as it can be argued to be good. For example, if a man cheated on his wife and the wife killed him she may have seen that as a good decision as it really...