“Explain Aquinas’s Natural Law Theory” - 30 marks.
Natural Law is an absolutist and deontological theory that is based on principles that under no circumstances can be broken as it requires people to follow a strict set of rules. The theory supports the view that the way to human happiness is for people to realise their full potential both as individuals and as human communities by following the principles of nature and reason. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century priest that was regarded as the most influential theologian within the Roman Catholic church studied and agreed with Aristotle’s work in that everything in the world has a purpose, but unlike Aristotle he argued that the purpose was given by God therefore the ultimate aim of life is to gain eternal life in heaven with God.
Aquinas believed four different types of universal laws whilst creating his theory that he stated were all inter-related. Eternal laws are those that follow the belief that God created everything and that his wisdom is revealed to humans through divine law in sacred texts, Aquinas stated that these are impossible to discover by reason, and that they are revealed by God. These divine laws are used in natural law where humans use their ability to know what is naturally right from wrong. Human laws then develop from this in today’s society within the legal systems. In Aquinas’ Natural Law theory, he stated that what makes humans unique is their ability to reason in which humans are able to freely identify our final causes in life. Aquinas quoted, “the moral life is the life according to reason” which suggests that reason is believed to be God’s gift to humanity.
Natural law consists of five primary precepts which Aquinas believed are needed in order for a person to develop the right relationship with God and to enable them to lead a moral life, allowing them to achieve the highest good in life. The primary precepts include humans using their conscience to do good and avoid evil, to...