Understanding the Natural Law Approach to Ethics

Topics: Aristotle, Natural law, Thomas Aquinas Pages: 3 (993 words) Published: March 11, 2014
Explain what is meant by Natural Law approach to ethics?
Natural Law is an ethical theory which states that there are unchanging laws set in the nature of the world, to tell humans what is moral and immoral. These laws are set by a supernatural power which is God. Natural Law is a Deontological theory which looks at the action to be moral despite the consequences it brings. The theory of Natural Law has been around for centuries and has had many key figures that have made key contributions to the theory.The first was a group of Greek philosophers called stoics and the Greek philosopher Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas in the 13nth century. The Stoics created the idea of natural law, stating that humans have within them a divine spark which helps them to live accordingly to Gods will. Although we as humans have the choice to obey these laws or not we still understand and use our divine spark which is reasoning to decide whether to obey these natural laws. Aristotle continued this idea by saying everything has a purpose and we can fulfil supreme goodness when we fulfil our purpose. For example the purpose of a knife is to cut. When a knife cuts sharply and efficiently it has reached its supreme goodness. Human’s supreme goodness is to be happy by flourishing and by living a life of reason which links to the stoics divine spark theory. “Reason is the true self of every man, since it is the supreme and better part reason is the highest sense of a man’s self “ Thomas Aquinas was very much influenced by Aristotle’s writing, and used his theories and his own to create what we now refer to as natural law. Aquinas stated that believing in God is irrelevant as reason can still be used to lead to a human flourishing. He also was the one that stated that Natural law is universal and has unchangeable laws. Aquinas believed we were designed for one reason which was perfection as we are created in Gods image and therefore should achieve good and avoid evil. However if we as...
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