The Natural Law By Thomas Aquinas

2146 words - 9 pages

In every man there is an innate sense of right and wrong buried within him. This sense guides people, culture, and even whole countries to act in certain ways. Thomas Aquinas called this innate sense the natural law. The natural law is established by God in order to make men more virtuous. When examined closely it is found that the natural law contains the precept of all law and, is at odds with certain laws that exist today, specifically abortion.
The “natural law is appointed by reason” (Aquinas IV, 94, 1) and given to everyone. This is very contrary to popular belief that right and wrong are relative; however, the idea of an absolute right makes sense. For instance, it is naturally understood that it is wrong to murder. This fact does not need to be argued over; it is innate to everyone. Furthermore, reason does not oppose the claim that murder is wrong. In fact, reason supports it. If murder were to be socially acceptable than all of a sudden, you have to be extremely cautious in every activity. At any time your life could be in danger and there would be nothing to do about it. Such a system would be utter chaos. Furthermore, if murder were to be legal, many people who may make great contributions to society could be killed and there is nothing to prevent it. Now, the problems with this system are not merely selfish but also social ones. So, we would reject such a system. However, we do not need to think through why murder is bad to know that it is. There is no veil hiding the truth of the natural law.
That is because the basic principle of the natural law is that it is natural. The natural law is the law that makes sense according to nature. There are certain things that people do not need to be taught. Think of a small child. If you someone were to take his toy away from him, he would be upset. That is because he recognizes that he has in some way been treated unjustly. No one needs to tell him “you ought to be very upset about that, it was terribly rude.” Furthermore, the child did not sit and debate the issue. The child is upset automatically; he has been deprived of a good and responds with desire for that good – whatever that good may be.
Also, the natural law is “the same to all men, and is equally known by all” (Aquinas IV, 94, 4). Location does not affect the natural law. While different cultures have certain values that are reflected in how they respond to the natural law, the natural law itself is constant. This can occur because the natural law is in its essence very vague. That natural law dictates that there should be such a thing as modesty; however, it does not dictate what qualifies as modest. Instead people interpret the natural law. An example of this would be when Europeans first entered Africa. The European’s thought the natives were immodest because they did not cover as much as themselves as the Western civilization deemed fit. However, the African people were being modest for what their culture demanded. In this...

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