Aquinas: Natural Law


in The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780198242673
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680519 | DOI:

Series: Development of Ethics

Aquinas: Natural Law

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Thomas Aquinas also treats morality as a set of principles specifying the requirements of natural law. Aristotle divides natural from legal justice; according to Aquinas, natural justice is embodied in the principles of natural law. Jurists tend to speak of natural right only when they refer to the nature common to human beings and other animals. When they refer to a human being's nature as human ‘in so far as he discerns wrong and right in accordance with reason’, they speak of the right of nations; but Aquinas insists that both aspects of a human being's nature are included under natural justice. The principles that he mentions here are those he normally includes under natural law; they are universally valid and universally known. This chapter shows, however, that Aquinas does not intend his doctrine of natural law to introduce any conflict with the eudaemonist aspects of his claims about the virtues.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; morality; natural law; Aristotle; natural justice; human beings; wrong; right; reason; virtues

Chapter.  17882 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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