09-25-08[1] - LECTURE Natural Law Theory o Having concluded...

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LECTURE Natural Law Theory o Having concluded that moral truths are independent of religion, it is time to consider an account of morality that respects this thought, but that is attractive to many religious people o Natural Law Theory has been of central importance in the Catholic tradition, in particular, and is still very influential o Natural Law Theory appeals to and helps explain some very common intuition that many religious and non-religious people share about the moral difference between intending and foreseeing an event o There are problems with the theory, and many religious people have instead endorsed moral theories that we will be looking at later in the course (e.g. Kant and Mill). o We can determine what we ought and ought not to do by looking to the laws of human nature : such laws tell us whether an act is natural or unnatural o These laws are universal, since they are grounded in human nature in general o Some other theories also take morality to be grounded in human nature (especially virtue ethics ), so we need more details… o Natural Law Theory has three parts: 1. A Perfectionist Account of Value This part tells us that questions about right or wrong can be answered by looking at the value of particular options, in terms of how they make human lives go better or worse. 2. The Doctrine of Double Effect This part of the theory provides us with guidance when we find that values conflict. 3. Moral Absolutism There are certain moral rules we should always follow, even when things might go better if we didn’t. Perfectionism in Aquinas o Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) developed the theory of natural law out of Aristotle’s theory that all things in nature have a goal or purpose (a telos ), and that to understand a thing’s essential nature one must understand its purpose o The purpose for human beings is to perfect ourselves through the exercise of our reason and free will – deciding what is best for us and freely pursuing it o This provides us with an account of value: an outcome is
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course PHIL 1305 taught by Professor Gordon during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.

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09-25-08[1] - LECTURE Natural Law Theory o Having concluded...

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