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5A - Early Theories of Natural Law - Aristotle and Aquinas.docx

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Department
Legal Studies
Course
LS 101
Professor
Susan Brophy
Semester
Fall

Description
Unit 2: Key Theories in Legal Studies Week 5A October 8, 2013 Session 7: Early Theories of Natural Law – Aristotle and Aquinas Review Natural Law Theory  Link between law and morality  Must you obey an unjust law? Background  What does “living well” mean to you? Or rather, what is your vision of “the good life”?  What is your vision of the “common good”?  Compatibility  Living well and “common good”  Assumptions about human nature  How does law serve the common good – law’s role in serving “common good”  What makes a law “just”? Aristotle Biography  384 BC – 322 BC  Famously known as Plato’s student at ‘The Academy’ o Plato: ideal or utopian state o Aristotle: reality of state politics  Founder of logic  Wrote Nicomachean Ethics (350 BC): o Based on lectures he gave o Based on the topic of how people should live and how people do live o Justified slavery and recognized Greeks as the superior society o Studied by Aquinas Claims  Search for common view of the good = search for the highest good, the virtue that is most valued (seen by a political, social stance, secular) Unit 2: Key Theories in Legal Studies Week 5A October 8, 2013  Aristotle’s belief that the highest good is living well; happiness  Aristotle’s basic claims o not a matter of learning abstract, general rules o it is an activity, exercise, or practice – can only come out if you engage with other person in the perspective of doing good (should be supported by actions)  the goal is to live well … ethical, happy, just   how to live well: do good acts   how to know if an act is good: good act arises from good habits   how to develop good habits: exercise practical reason  o HABIT  example of “good habit” is giving a seat up on the bus to an elderly person  the question asks how did this good habit arise?  Habit is not a knee-jerk act, there is thought behind it  No selfish intent or desire for profit  We can conclude that it is an expressions of our rational nature (it is irrational to exist in the world if you live unethically)  Habits can be formed  This is where law comes in…  Laws shape habit, makes good citizens o “…legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator…”  Effective laws promote lawful or just acts o “we call those acts just that tend to produce and preserve happiness and i
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