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LWSO201 - NLT - Aquinas_3.doc

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University of Calgary
Law and Society
LWSO 201
Marywyatt Sindlinger

Natural Law Theory Sept 22 and 27th, 2011 Themes: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q91 Aquinas • Dominican priest and philosopher • 1 - Proof of God – the uncaused first cause • God is perfect and necessary • Everything happens for a reason – goodness is at the end of everything (influences his description of law) • 2 – ethics • law in general (q90) is a rule or a measure of acts that tells us how we are induced to act or restrained from acting • law is imposed on somebody • that somebody needs to know about it (promulgated) • lastly, the law is always directed to the common good. If it doesn’t promote the common good, it is not formally called law 1) Is there an Eternal Law? • God’s blueprint for the Universe (everything God is thinking about) • It is perfect – no mistakes, eternal (never changing) • It will never be fully known to human beingss a) First Argument against: i) Every law must be imposed on someone ii) God alone is eternal iii) Therefore, there was no one to impose eternal law upon iv) Therefore there is no eternal law b) Second argument against i) Law must be promulgated (told to someone) ii) There was no one in eternity upon whom an eternal law could be promulgated (there was nobody in eternity he can tell things to) iii) Therefore no eternal law c) Third argument against i) Law implies order to an end (give structure in order to achieve a purpose) ii) No end is eternal (there is no eternal purpose because purpose changes) iii) Therefore no eternal law d) Aquinas’ general counterargument i) Law is the dictate of practical reason emanating from the rule who governs a perfect community ii) World/universe is governed by Divine Providence iii) Divine Reason has the nature of law iv) Divine Reason is eternal v) Therefore there is an eternal law e) Responses to specific arguments i) Eternal law existed in God and was foreknown to him and therefore, existed eternally ii) Promulgation requires words; the word of God is eternal, even if the recipients of the Word of God are not iii) Eternal law is part of God and is aimed at Himself and therefore is eternal • A.k.a. – God told it to himself, imposed it on himself, etc. 2) Is there a Natural Law? • Human’s understanding and participating (using reason) in eternal law • Natural law is no different than eternal law • God gave us the tools (rationality and logic) to achieve eternal happiness with God – achieve goodness through God – This is our purpose in life and God gave us the tools to achieve this purpose • We must strive for a good and just life • Aquinas realizes we aren’t good at following this plan (we get side swept along the way) so we need law to keep pushing us towards this goal • We can use our mind to figure out what our purpose is and what it requires of us • First cause – there is a first principle we all need to adhere to (good is to be done and evil avoided) – moral universalism of Aquinas a.k.a. NLT a) First argument against: i) Eternal law is sufficient and a natural law would be redundant b) Second argument against i) Law directs man to his end (eternal happiness through God) ii) Law is a matter of reason and not of nature or natural inclinations ( If we can figure it out through reason, we don’t need natural law – it’s implanted into us already) iii) Therefore no natural law c) Third argument against: i) Animals are not subject to a natural law ii) Humans are freer than animals iii) Therefore humans not subject to a natural law d) Aquinas’ general counterargument i) All things in universe are ruled and measured by the eternal ii) Eternal law is imprinted on us and on all things iii) In this manner, we partake in the eternal law (participation is the natural law) iv) By our nature (ie: that which is natural), we strive to our proper acts and ends according to the eternal law v) Participation by rational creatures in the eternal law is the natural law vi) Natural law is the imprint of divine light upon us whereby we discern what is good and evil e) Aquinas’ responses to arguments i) Natural law is not different than eternal law but is our participation in the eternal law ii) Natural law is the use of our reason and will guided by our nature to our ends iii) Irrational creatures do not participate in the eternal law via reason 3) Is there a Human Law? • Laws people make • Laws devised by human reason adapted to a particular society • In order for human laws to be considered laws the
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