Today’s Assignment: Natural Law • EMP (15 pages) – The Tradition of Natural Law (Lucas), pp. 195-198; from “Summa Theologica (St. Thomas Aquinas), pp. 199-202; from The Ethics of Natural Law (Harris), pp. 203-209. Objectives from reading: Natural Law Know difference between descriptive (scientific ), prescriptive (natural and divine), & human (civil, positive, statue) laws Comprehend Aquinas’ features of a law, how natural law can be explained in terms of moral standards and the 4 natural inclinations of human beings. Comprehend the concept of “the common good” vs. concept of “greatest good for the greatest number.” Know & apply the Principle of Forfeiture and the Principe of Double Effect Questions of the Day… Is it Right because God commands it? or Does God command it because it is Right? Natural Rights & Natural Law • In the “Declaration of Independence,” Thomas Jefferson (following the English philosopher, John Locke) makes reference to “self-evident” truths, among which are certain “inalienable rights” • Martin Luther King makes reference explicitly to “natural law” (as well as the U. S. Constitution) to argue that racist laws are inherently unjust What is this “natural law”? Natural Law Two important things about natural law theory: (1) Natural laws are prescriptive; they tell us how we ought to behave. In this sense, they are unlike physical laws aka laws of nature (e.g., gravitation), which tell us how things do in fact behave and are, therefore, descriptive. “Unlike rocks, we are always at liberty to disobey the natural laws that pertain to us. This is how we sin.” Natural Law (2) Natural laws are absolute, because the goods in which they are grounded are incommensurable - that is, there is no common metric that would allow us to compare them. Hence, there can be no ‘trade-offs’ between, say, protecting life and seeking knowledge; or, more importantly, between protecting this life rather than that life. Natural Law • Encompasses tradition of moral and legal philosophy reaching back to Aristotle & Roman Stoics (Cicero) • There is a secular and a theological version – (the latter connect nicely to the notion of “divine command” theory; cf. St Paul) • Neither focuses upon “civil” law (what we normally mean by “law”); – instead, these traditions use “Law” in the same sense as Kant – the “moral law” Sources of Natural Law Tradition • Suppose we took the world’s current major legal systems and threw out any provisions that were unique to one or only some. – Would there be anything left? • Political Problem of the Roman Empire: – “How do we govern a multinational, multicultural, pluralistic commonwealth encompassing many nationalities, religions, ethnicities, and legal systems? – What laws shall we uniformly enforce upon ALL subjects (regardless of race, color, or religious creed)?” Transition from Secular to Sacred Solution: Common legal core, the Roman code But of this code, Cicero writes: “True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. . . …We cannot be freed from its obligations by Senate or People, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it . . . Cicero(106 BC-43 BC) …There will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.” Natural Law: St Thomas Aquinas • God’s law is “imprinted upon us . . . The light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the divine light” 1225-1274 • There are at least some moral truths, derived from God and grounded in God, that everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or cultural background, must be responsible for knowing • Distinguish this (as Romans did) from “civil” or “positive” law, and also from “divine” or “revealed” law (the Church has custody of this) In his Summa Theologica, Aquinas acknowledges universal moral truths Examples of Natural Law – “Golden” Rule – Principle of reciprocity – Prohibition of unjustifiable homicide – Respect for Life Danger: mistaking one’s own cultural or religious habits (or even prejudices) for universal natural law Everyone, everywhere seems to have some versions of these e.g., Which of the 10 Commandments would you challenge as not being a “Natural Law”? Relation of Natural Law to Other Kinds of Law • Descriptive “laws of nature” by contrast summarize known physical conditions or constraints that apply in fact w/o exception – i.e., cannot be “disobeyed” – e.g., Law of Gravity • Civil or Positive Law: – speed limits, tax laws, torts and contracts, property – Can be added to, but cannot contravene natural law (cf. Martin Luther King) Definitions • Eternal Law – The law of God’s regulative reason • Divine Law – The Law that man receives by special revelation from God • Natural Law – That part of God’s Law that is incorporated into human nature • Human Law – Law devised by man for specific purposes Divine, Natural and Civil Law Eternal Law (Divine+ Natural) “Divine” or “Revealed” Law (From Deity) Natural Law (from Reason) Law of Nature (Descriptive) Human Laws Civil Laws Impact/Influence of Natural Law Tradition • International Law (Grotius, Pufendorf) • Constitution & U. S. Declaration of Independence (Jefferson) • JUST WAR THEORY (jus ad bellum AND jus in bello – law of war) • Kant and the Categorical Imperative • Gandhi, King, and notion of principled civil disobedience Natural Inclinations • Self-preservation – Natural inclination to live • Procreation – Natural inclination to reproduce • Knowledge – Natural inclination to learn • Sociability – Natural inclination to love and seek affection Two Important Principles of Natural Law (“Casuistry” in Harris’s essay) 1. The Principle of Forfeiture and 2. The Principle of Double Effect Questions on Natural Law? Reading for Next Class Applying the Doctrine of Double Effect • EMP (7 pages) – Natural Law and the Principle of Double Effect: Six Hypothetical Cases (Lucas), pp. 211-217. • CSME (6 pages) – Incident at Shkin (Schoultz), pp. 7-11; Terror and Retaliation-Who is Right?” (Rubel), p. 57. Objectives from reading: Natural Law Comprehend the concept of “the common good” vs concept of “greatest good for the greatest number.” Know & apply the Principle of Forfeiture and the Principe of Double Effect POINT PAPERS are due at the beginning of next class!!!
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