Natural Law Theory​

Natural Law Theory doesn’t require the bible, church, or religion for one to understand how to act well. Because our gut feeling teaches us basic goods. People were living based on the Divine Command Theory while some of them didn’t even know who God was.

Aquinas presumed that this wasn’t God’s intention, that God embedded these ‘natural laws’ into our systems to do and to know what is good. According to Natural Law Theory, morality is imbued by God, who originated the moral law. Following this moral law makes our lives drastically better.

Table of Contents

Thomas Aquinas

Aquinas was born in 1225 in Roccasecca, Italiëargued. He stated that God created the world according to so-called natural laws. To be suitable for God’s sake.

He thought God embedded a goal-driven, predictable system into all of us where life is sustained and everything functions smoothly. Aquinas was by far the most influential figure regarding Natural Law theory.

Thomas Aquinas
injunction and warnings

Prohibition and positive injunction

I value my life, so that means that your life is valuable as well. So, I shouldn’t kill you. For instance, not killing is a Natural Law.

The primary good life knows two sides. The prohibition, states that we shall not kill, and the positive injunction, concludes that we should promote life.

This applies to the other essential goods as well. For example, we shouldn’t prevent reproduction, and we also need to produce offspring.

The basic goods

There are seven ‘basic goods‘ that we are meant to seek. Those are life, reproduction, teaching one’s children, seeking God, living in fellowship, avoiding offense, and avoiding ignorance. Firstly, we are designed to evade danger, for instance, jumping off a cliff. Secondly, we are made to reproduce. God made it feel good and pleasurable to do so.

Even though we are rational, we are also emotional creatures

Once we have reproduced, we are obligated to educate our children to survive and reproduce themselves one day to complete the cycle because that is the goal of everything. Thirdly, we are so-called pack animals. That’s why we don’t feel good when acting offensively in our community. Lastly, we are natural ‘knowers’ and want to be correct. According to the natural law theory, knowledge can increase our survival rate, and ignorance can mean death in some cases.

Key Figures regarding the Natural Law Discussion

Jean Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre

It is remarkable to notice that Jean-Paul Sartre agreed that we all seek God in our lives. The Natural Law Theory states this. It doesn’t matter if we have been exposed to him or not. Sartre was an atheist who concluded that this was an empty hole we could never fill.

If people violate the good all the time, what truly is there to us for the need to seek the good? We are built with the ability to recognize and seek this so-called good all the time. Like Aquinas stated, the natural law theory rules are embedded with us all. Aquinas has a clear answer to that: Because we are ignorant, we sometimes seek what we think is good, but we are just wrong according to the natural law theory.

David Hume

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher and Enlightenment historian. He was one of the foremost empiricist philosophers, and his beliefs had a severe influence on Immanuel Kant, who thought that things around him could seriously improve. When we look at our survival instincts, we consider them good. But what if I would kill someone and shelter in their carcass to keep myself warm? Hume asked. That would be immoral to other people.

For instance, reproduction is sound, but what if that leads to sexual assault? That also would be immoral. Lastly, Hume asked if it was a sin for him never to have children intentionally or because one cannot reproduce or when their partner is.

We are all born with a God-shaped hole inside of us

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