Class Notes (806,752)
Canada (492,428)
Philosophy (608)
PHL 606 (44)

Natural Law Theory

3 Pages
Unlock Document

Ryerson University
PHL 606
Christopher Thomson

One of the most prevalent themes in philosophy until the 20th century is the belief that everything has an "essence" that makes each thing a thing of that kind. Ancient philosophers from Plato onward believed that in order to truly understand something it was necessary to grasp or have an understanding of its essence. Until recently, the belief that everything has a fixed, unchanging or "given" essence has seldom been seriously challenged. We could call this belief "classical essentialism" and it underlies a great deal of our thinking that everything has a normal or natural purpose and that this purpose should not be circumvented or frustrated, otherwise we end up "perverting" something's natural function. Historical influences on essentialism have come from areas as diverse as philosophy, religion and science, with all three of these sources of knowledge informing us what the "normal or natural function" of something is and sexuality is no exception. With this in mind respond to the following questions in your own words: 1. If Smith is correct, then sex also has a given "essence" or a fixed purpose. According to Smith what is this purpose and on what grounds does she present her case for sexual essentialism? - So we can know and correspond our actions to - Reasons: things act in a predictable fashion o Natural instincts of natural things are good for them to be as so o Act within the ratio = good - “right opinion” – acting rationally? - Use of rhetoric: “something has gone wrong here?” - Condom and “safe sex” = responsible sex? or is responsible sex abstinence until prepared for babies? o Contraception as being “unnatural” - Intimately and naturally connected with having babies and with creating strong bonds between the sexes - Natural law ethics: live in accordance with reality; although nature limits us if we do, it is for the greater human good - Feels like smith employs a lot of rhetoric and her claims are somewhat subjective o Slippery slope! According to Smith, natures and essences allow humans to know the purpose of sex. By behaving in accordance to this essence - through "natural" actions/instincts - individuals would be doing good for themselves. She claims that the essence/purpose of sex is for the perpetuation of the human species as well as to create intimate bonds between the sexes. Smith argues that the modern perspective on sexual essentialism has become dependent on the use of contraception and that this has made society careless, irresponsible, and unprepared for the consequence that is child birth. She argues that this is bad for humanity as she believes society minimizes the consequences of sex: with or without contraception, they are the same and an individual either gets pregnant or not. However, Smith believes contraception is worse for humans (especially females)
More Less

Related notes for PHL 606

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.