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PP 110 - Aristotle natural law.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Ashwani Peetush

Aristotle – Natural Law  Importance of Natural Law: the good or bad is determined by the direct relationship to the world/ universe  It does not ask what rules should be followed. Instead, what makes a good person  According to this theory, what is right or good can be determined in reference to its natural purpose, which is itself a part of universe o Assume that the world is a rational order with values and purposes built right into its very nature. Everything in the universe has a purpose  Points to the eco-system and how everything has order and a purpose  Points to the interconnectedness of nature  One must understand the nature o Something is good then, if it fulfills its purpose. The laws of nature describe not only how things are, but also how things should be  Ask questions  What is it? – formal cause  What is it made of? – material cause  How did it come to exist? – efficient cause  What is it for? – final cause. Telos (the end) o What is the purpose of human beings? Eudaimonia. To live well is to live in accord with one’s rational nature  To live well = live life in accordance with moderation, reason, and virtue  Beneficence – being good  We should be concerned about our neighbours because it is a part of what it is to be human beings – we are social beings – it is essential to being human that we are social o Because it is part of our nature, we have the duty to do it  The good is derived from its purpose and its purpose is derived from its essence  After you define what something is, you can judge whether something is good or bad  Ex. eyes are for seeing – good eyes can see clearly  X is good in reference to its purpose  Morally wrong actions are those that do not accord with one’s nature, and thus break the natural law  Objections: o Does everything have a purpose in the universe?  Things only work if there is a purpose  Without purpose, you cannot determine the good  Ex. giraffes are purposely (but by chance) given long necks to survive in the universe  It is not saying that nothing has a purpose o Can we differentiate the natural from the unnatural? o Hume: Isn’t there a distinc
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