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LWSO 201 Lecture Notes - Summa Theologica, Divine Law, Moral Universalism

Law and Society
Course Code
LWSO 201
Marywyatt Sindlinger

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Natural Law Theory
Sept 22 and 27th, 2011
Themes: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q91
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

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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
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
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