Explain Natural Law Theory

1156 words 5 pages
Explain Natural Law theory
In this essay, I will discuss the theories behind Natural Law, as well as the qualities it is seen to possess. I will explain Aquinas’ concepts and theory on Natural Law, discussing eudaimonia and the doctrine of the double effect. Finally, I will reflect on some of the positive and negative aspects, in summarising Natural Law theory. It is important to highlight that Natural Laws differ from acts which occur naturally. There are many aspects to Natural Law, the first being the concept that it is absolute; therefore it includes set rules to follow. Thomas Aquinas believed that these rules were the primary precepts, along with the secondary precepts, which are obtained from natural morality within humans.
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The doctrine of the double effect is when there is a good intended outcome, as well as an unintentional outcome that is not good. Thus, as Natural Law is deontological, it is our intentions that are considered important, therefore if there is a significant unintended outcome because of persons actions, they should not be held responsible. On occasion though, if the unintentional effect is grossly disproportionate to the intentional effect then it would be considered morally unethical. Thus for example, a person intent on saving an individuals life that unintentionally caused the death of many others would be said to have behaved unethically.
There is much strength to Natural Law theory, such as the fact it offers a universal moral code which is accessible for all people, anywhere and any religion. Furthermore, Natural Law theory is also flexible, enabling it to be applied anywhere and in most situations for differing cultures. Another positive aspect of Natural Law theory is that it supports human rights, through the primary precept ‘Defend the innocent’, which many people will consider an important role for Natural law followers, as it benefits humanity. As Aquinas combined his faith with his reasoning, Natural Law is very easy for religious people to follow, because they will not have to abandon any beliefs in order to accommodate Natural Law theory in their lives. The final positive aspect is that


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