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Natural Law Ethics Created by: Michael H' Cheney


Arbitrary (simply for good order) or Natural (rooted in the demands of human nature: ... Someone who does not care at all for others is seen as deranged, a sociopath. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Natural Law Ethics Created by: Michael H' Cheney

Natural Law EthicsCreated by Michael H. Cheney
  • Be Natural

Arbitrary (simply for good order) or Natural
(rooted in the demands of human nature
  • Driving on the left side of the road is illegal.
  • Human slavery is forbidden.
  • Those who abuse children will be punished.
  • Chess bishops may move only diagonally.
  • Players will be penalized fifteen yards for
    unnecessary roughness.
  • The wealthy are taxed more heavily than the poor.

Arbitrary (simply for good order) or Natural
(rooted in the demands of human nature
  • Stop on red go on green.
  • Those who shoot police automatically get the
    maximum penalty.
  • Outside this line, the ball is out of play.
  • DUIs lose license.
  • Convicted drug users will do community service.

Arbitrary (simply for good order) or Natural
(rooted in the demands of human nature
  • All males in the company must wear ties.
  • Property owners will be taxed proportionately.
  • Two strokes will be imposed for a lost golf ball.

Just (based on the legitimate demands of human
nature) or Unjust (repellent to the legitimate
demands of human nature)
  • Only white property owners may vote.
  • Legal abortion of a fetus in third trimester is
  • Fifty major corporations pay no income tax.
  • Public prayer in public schools is illegal.
  • Bussing is required for racial balance.
  • College students receive military deferral.

Just (based on the legitimate demands of human
nature) or Unjust (repellent to the legitimate
demands of human nature)
  • Drinking is illegal until age twenty-one.
  • Most addictive drugs are illegal.
  • No one may buy alcoholic beverages in this state.
  • Draftees may refuse to serve on conscience
  • Women are not proportionately represented.

Just (based on the legitimate demands of human
nature) or Unjust (repellent to the legitimate
demands of human nature)
  • Men must pay alimony to their ex-wives.
  • Petty-theft penalty is less than embezzling
  • Prison guards need no college education.
  • No divorce without a judges approval.

Source OMalley, Building Your Own Conscience
  • For the most part, Christianity has emphasized
    Natural Law ethics
  • Propositions
  • Moral truths are built on general moral
    principles reflecting our shared human nature.
  • Moral teachings are laws that are more
    fundamental than specific laws.
  • This law is not external to the human person.
  • It is engraved in our hearts
  • It identifies what it means to be human.

Catechism 1954
  • Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of
    the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts
    and the ability to govern himself with a view to
    the true and the good. The natural law expresses
    the original moral sense which enables man to
    discern by reason the good and the evil, the
    truth and the lie.

St. Pauls Letter to the Romans
  • Even Gentiles, who did not know the Jewish law,
    could do intuitively what the law requires
    (Romans 214)
  • They show that what the law requires is written
    on their hearts, to which their own conscience
    also bears witness (Romans 215)

The Theory of Natural Law

  • Is involves ought
  • The world has a rational order
  • of values and purposes built into its very
  • Moral judgments are dictates of reason.
  • We know what we ought to do because God has
    made us rational beings.
  • Everything that exists serves some purpose
  • We can never understand a thing until we
    understand what it is for. (Aristotle)
  • "The laws of nature" not only describe how things
  • They also specify how things ought to be.

Catechism 1957
  • Application of the natural law varies greatly
    Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the
    natural law remains as a rule that binds men
    among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the
    inevitable differences, common principles.

Beneficence Natural Law
  • By observing our human nature we can arrive at
    the conclusion that humans are social animals.
  • Is natural to us.
  • By nature we are social creatures who want and
    need the company of other people.
  • Part of our human nature that we care about
  • Someone who does not care at all for others is
    seen as deranged, a sociopath.

The Christian Perspective
  • God has designed the world in such a way that
    through reason we can determine what is
    objectively right and wrong.
  • Yet, Christianity also affirms that God has also
    revealed through the Scriptures additional
    universal norms that are not immediately
    accessible from the laws of nature.

Three Steps of Natural Law Ethics
  • Examine nature especially human nature to
    discover the purpose of things built into nature.
  • Use reasoning to arrive at general principles of
    morality based on this examination of human
  • Apply these general principles to the particular
    moral dilemmas to which we find ourselves.

Activity A
  • Natural law refers to principles that are so
    natural to our human condition that they are
    engraved on our hearts.
  • Imagine that you are a member of a United Nations
    commissioned to formulate a declaration of
    universal moral principles i.e., a list of
    principles that would apply to everyone
    everywhere simply because they are human.
  • Create this list of principles as universal
    pronouncements about how people should or should
    not act.

Activity B
  • Describe human nature in terms of how people act.
    (Give examples)
  • Then, describe human nature in terms of how
    people should act. (Give examples)
  • Which description more closely reflects your
    understanding of human nature? Explain.
  • Which description more closely reflects what
    natural law means by human nature? Explain.

Activity C
  • The Constitution of the United States contains a
    Bill of Rights for all of its citizens.
  • For each of the following groups, spell out three
    rights that you believe that group has. (If you
    do not believe a particular group has specific
    rights, explain why.)
  • Children have a right to 5. Employees have a
    right to
  • Prisoners have a right to 6. Employers have a
    right to
  • Animals have a right to 7. Hospital patients
    have a right to
  • Consumers have a right to 8. Students have a
    right to

Activity D
  • Imagine someone comes to you seeking your opinion
    on one of the following questions.
  • It is okay to cheat on income tax?
  • Should a customer who receives 20 extra in
    change from a store cashier return the money?
  • It is okay to sell illegal drugs to willing
  • Provide an answer by completing the following
  • A general principle (or principles) related to
    this question is .
  • A person can apply that general principle to the
    particular question by the following use of
    logical reason

U.N. Declaration of Human Rights
  • In 1948 the United Nations drafted a declaration
    listing rights that all people have and asked
    member countries to publicize and advocate these
  • The following is a summary of some of the rights
  • http//

Everyone is entitled to
  • Freedom without any distinction based on race,
    color, sex, language, religion, national origin
    and birth.
  • The right to leave any country and the right to
    have and change nationality.
  • Protection, by society and the State, for
  • The right to seek and enjoy asylum from
  • The right to participate in the arts and cultural
  • Special care and assistance for children and
    their caregivers.
  • The right to life, liberty and security of person.

  • Freedom from torture and cruel, inhumane or
    degrading punishment.
  • The right to a fair and public hearing, and the
    right to be presumed innocent until proven
  • The right to equal pay for equal work and to
    favorable work conditions.
  • No arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • The right to take part in the government,
    directly or through freely chosen
  • The right to a fair pay and to a standard of
    living adequate for the health and well being of
    self and family.

  • The right to education, which should be free in
    elementary stages, and should be available at
    high levels.
  • The right to an effective remedy for acts
    violating fundamental rights.

The Natural Law Approach to Morality A Checklist
  • Activity
  • Source Morality, J. Stoutzenberger

Determine which statement describes Natural
Law.Record True or False.
Natural Law
  • Asks, what does it mean to be human?
  • Asks only, What is the loving thing to do in
    this situation?
  • Is based on biblical teachings.
  • Is a philosophical foundation for moral
  • Has its origins in classical Greek thought.
  • 6. Is based upon human nature.
  • 7. Seeks universal truths that are built into the
    nature of things.
  • 8. Advocates Love, and then do what you will.
  • 9. Avoids defining universal principles.
  • 10. Distrusts human reasoning as an instrument of

Natural Law
  • 11. Is identical with specific human laws, i.e.,
    traffic laws.
  • 12. Declares do not lie as a valid moral
    principle because lying violates the nature of
  • 13. Declares that all people have inalienable
  • 14. Enables people of different cultures and
    religions to seek common truths.
  • 15. Argues from the general to the specific.
  • 16. Is based on subjective impressions about
    right and wrong.