Natural Law Essay

580 Words3 Pages
(a) Describe the origins and features of the natural law theory Natural law is a deontological ethical theory which considers something to be moral if it fulfils God’s plan for creation. Thomas Aquinas discussed, that because every human is created by God, then our purpose is to live life according to God’s plan for us. Natural law was fully developed by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, although Vardy and Grosch comment, “the natural law approach to morality has a long history” as the concept originated long before the time of Aquinas. The concept of natural law can be traced back to the time of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He explained that everything has a purpose – “a good knife is one that cuts well, that is what it is designed to do”. Aristotle believed that it was universal and could be applied to all cultures, religions and genders. The Stoics were a group of Ancient Greek philosophers who further developed the concept of natural law. They stated that if we wanted to fulfil our purpose we must behave morally and “fit in with the overall plan of the universe”. The Roman lawyer Cicero also utilised the concept of natural law. He reinforced Aristotle’s point on which natural law can be applied to all, “it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting… one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times”. There are a number of key principles associated with natural law. Aquinas summed up God’s overall purpose for human life as to live, reproduce, learn, have an ordered society and worship God. These are referred to as the primary precepts. Secondary precepts are rules that follow from obedience to the primary precepts. For example, to ensure “reproduce” is upheld contraception must be forbidden. The role of human reason is associated with natural law also. Thompson defines human reason as the ability
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