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Natural Law evaluation
Terms in this set (16)
Does Natural Law provide a helpful method for moral decision making? - yes, legalistic and rational
Natural law is a rational theory and allows us to to legalistically determine the morality of an action, making it applicable to secular society. Despite deriving from the belief of a theist God, Natural Law suggests that we instinctively seek good as our human nature made in imago DEI forces us to live accordingly. Therefore, according to the CCC it 'binds men' with 'common principles,' making it practical in society due to its objective and egalitarian approach.
Rachels' criticism + Karl Barth
'Natural law suggests morality is autonomous' (can govern morality alone) but this is unconvincing as we are are emotional creatures and find it hard to act solely by reason. In a situation like euthanasia (apparent good), if the patient is suffering greatly then our emotions encourage us to believe that it is moral to kill but according to NL this is caused by the absence of reason; against our instinctive primary precept to preserve life. NL is practical in society but unrealistic, it takes away the value of or emotions and devalues humanity to callous rational beings. Barth enhanced this, the reliance on human fallible reason makes the ethical model impractical, we do not all have the grace of God and ability to follow Divine law from the Bible making NL unreliable.
Does Natural Law provide a helpful method for moral decision making? - Primary Precepts
Based on the belief in god, the purpose of following this is to ensure that we achieve eudaimonia in heaven. This is not applicable to atheists, the world is too chaotic and filled with unpredictable circumstances ; making it impractical to follow the commands of a god whose existence is ambiguous. When using the example of Philippa Foot's Trolley Problem, NL suggests we should allow the death of 5 people, allowing the natural process wanted by God, but this is against the Primary precepts- the complexity of the problems in the world cannot be merely sealed NL and reliance on a non-existent god, it is more moral to independently shoes the right action to take, killing one person to save five
Does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision making? - synderesis
Synderesis highlights that we all have an orientation towards good as 'practical reason is one founded on the notion of good' but this is not supported by observable evidence. Neilsen recognised that 'there is no single human nature,' we cannot all be generalised to have to the same nature and purpose. This is because from an a posteriori perspective, sadists prove that we do not all share the nature of an omnibevolent god. Similarly, according to Aquinas part of this goodness is believing that homosexuality and sex fo pleasure is wrong as it is against the primary precept of reproduction but the existence of a male G-spot and clitoris in females suggests that both of these are not wrong as we have been created to allow it.
Does natural law provide a helpful method of moral decision making? - inflexibility
Aquinas' ethical model is applicable for the Middle Ages but life has greatly changed since then; yet the inflexible nature of the theory prevents it from being adapted to modern society like Relativist approaches. According to the CCC, NL provides the 'solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules...moral foundation for building the human community' but the 'foundation' for our lives require change, modern science allows homosexuals to reproduce and achieve telos; the main issue her is that NL devalues the importance of reason preventing it from being accessible to all societies.
Does human nature have an orientation towards good? - G.E Moore
Aquinas depicted a positive outlook of human nature, we are made in image DEI and therefore instinctively seek good. G.E Moore argued that this depends on the definition of good, according to him goodness cannot be equated with anything else meaning it can be easily misinterpreted or generalised. Good is a 'simple notion' like the colour yellow, we recognise it when we see it but it is hard to decide but this does not mean our actions should be good. He stated 'you cannot derive an ought from an is' - simply because our natural is to love for example, it does not mean this is right or good. In moral dilemmas, we do not reason and think 'what is the right and good thing do do' instead we follow our emotions, if we follow Aquinas this is our natural inclination and therefore Situationism is good.
Does human nature have an orientation towards good? - human law and Hobbes
Our legal system is secular but follows Natural Law, human law is similar acorn the world suggestive that we all have moral universal principles that instinctively must be followed. However, looking at this from a historical perspective it is unconvincing, Nazi Germany allowed their prosecution of Jews and murder of Gabriel Fernandez in 2013 as purely evil rather than being caused by lack of reasoning and apparent goods. Hobbes lived through the English Ciil War and saw the danger and malevolence of human nature - families torn apart, we are naturally destructive 'men from their very birth and naturally... would have all the world if they could to fear and obey them'
Does human nature have an orientation towards good? - doctrine of double effect
Augustine 'private self defence can only proceed from some degree of inordinate self love'
Doctrine of the double effect dismisses entirely Aquinas' assertion act we are instinctively good. Even to suggest that murder is acceptable is wrong since it is impossible to determine what 'necessary violence' can be categorised as in each situation. The desire in wanting to protect ourselves by endangering the life of another is selfish and fails to follow the self-giving example of Jesus in hope that we will all be rewarded and punished in the afterlife for what we deserve.
Can a judgement about something being good/bad/right/wrong to based on its success/ failure in achieving its telos- dehumanising
a telos can be seen as a dehumanising as we are deduced to merely our function. A good wheel turns smoothly but we are more complex than inanimate objects to suggest that a good human is one who achieves their telos. This is enhanced by the fact that not everybody has the capability to achieve telos, some people are infertile and according to Aquinas they seem to be from birth bad people as they cannot follow God's commandment to be 'fruitful and multiply.'
Can a judgement about something being good/bad/right/wrong to based on its success/ failure in achieving its telos - Catholicism
NL is central to catholic moral theology as it is 'the light of understanding place in us by God,' allowing us to establish an ordered equitable society with fixed unambiguous laws applicable to all. However, to a modern society the idea of having a telos, restricts our lives and freedom. For example, the Catholic Church prohibits artificial contraception and sex for pleasure as it exploits its purpose of reproduction and therefore goes against 'moral order' CCC. This is supported by Augustine and the Bible, Onan was punished in Genesis by God for 'spilling his seed' and Augustine stated that 'intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the contraception of the offspring is prevented.' However, our views have greatly changed and even creation argues against this, Aquinas' view of telos must be modernised.
Can a judgement about something being good/bad/right/wrong to based on its success/ failure in achieving its telos - modernised and reason
devaluing humanity to merely our telos removes our capability to reason to adapt the theory to modern life. Even Aquinas has used reasoning to develop DODE but this can be argued to be an apparent good as Barth recognised the fallibility of human reason. Perhaps, modern society is immoral and we must follow God;s teachings to prevent ourselves from following this immoral path.
Society once believed a woman's telos is to be a wife and be a housewife but this has greatly changed, NL does not treat everybody equally as the Bible is sexist, St Paul.
Has the world been created with a telos? - no, there is no God
For the world to have a telos, there must be creator but it is too flawed to suggest its creation as done by a omnipotent being. The universe has little evidence of design and it more likely to have been created by chance, Stephen Hawkins 'because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.'
Kungs stated that NL is 'naive, is static, narrow and completely unhistorical'
this is because it is based on our beliefs of what it is natural and artificial, for example sexual orientation is caused by biology rather than society but the inflexible model fails to understand this. Fixing sexual orientation on polarities is continuously challenged by transgender people and homosexuals - but according to Aquinas this is against out NL and therefore God, but modern science proves that it is not 'unnatural' to not be heterosexual.
NL is applicable
NL is applicable to our nature, modern society defies God and this is why it seems unsuitable for us. If we wanted to flourish as human beings, NL must be followed as this is what is moral.
Can the doctrine of the doctrine of the double effect be used to justify an action such as killing somebody is self- defence - yes
According to Aquinas, killing in self- defence acceptable as the internal act is to defend ourselves and the external act is an unfortunate consequence of this. Despite being against the primary precept of preserving life, the act of saving a life balances the murder of a another life- justifying war in self defence and abortion. Thomson supported this when considering abortion - 'the mother and the unborn child are not like two tenants in a small house... the mother owns the house' and therefore she should have the power to kill her child in self defence.
Some argue consequence of defence can be foreseen so immoral but this is not desired, we do not murder in self-defence because we want to, kill unwillingly- Trolley Problem
Can the doctrine of the doctrine of the double effect be used to justify an action such as killing somebody is self- defence - no
Thomson's view on abortion devalues the baby's life.
external act can be foreseen so is part of the intention, making murder inexcusable e.g if mother gets abortion she knows child will die and in defensive war we know that soldiers will certainly be killed. Uniacke stated that the intention to kill an aggressor in self-defence can be foreseen.
Killing in self defence glorifies evil and gives it dignity- good outcome comes after murder, mother saved after killing child.
It is wrong to suggest that killing one life can be balanced by the saving of another because God is omnibenevolent and would not want the death of anybody, selfish to kill (Augustine)
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