Discuss the view that natural law

Natural Law is intensely followed by Strict Roman Catholics and from face value it seems to be quite a stable and good ethical guide to life. However, we need to take into consideration the fact that it does not include different exceptions for special circumstances or unique situations. Can a moral code always be right regardless of these different situations? And can we really accept a moral guide to thinking that does not take into account influencing factors that our conscience tells us we need to include in decision making? Natural law is a very clear-cut theory.

It provides us with a straightforward answer as to why we are here and what we should do in any situation. The fact that there is only one rule to follow; do what is natural, means that it is easy to follow with out dispute because doing what is natural is good in all situations despite the circumstances or any factors. This means there is no room for argument as to what the right thing to do is. Natural law is a very objective way of deciding between what is right and wrong. It gives everything a design, a purpose and a reason for being here which is a very positive approach to life.

However, the most obvious question we have to ask is, 'how do we know what is natural'? Different people will have different opinions as to what the natural thing to do is in a situation. So although there is only one law, because it covers so many issues it is not specific enough to exclude any doubts as to what is natural. Depending on upbringing, religion and education we all have different views which means there will be a lot of confusion and arguments, making the theory harder to follow. Natural Law is based on using our reason to determine what is natural and then acting accordingly.

Because it is dependant on human logic, it therefore is Universable because it is capable of being discovered by everyone as everyone can experience it. This means everyone can understand it and everyone can apply it easily unlike other theories where some find it hard to comprehend. Purpose and design are the two things that Natural law is concerned with and nothing else. We need to ask ourselves 'is this enough'? Human beings are very complex creatures and there is much more to us than our purpose. We need to therefore decide if it is acceptable to base a moral theory solely on reason and not consider any other factors or circumstances.

We also need to take note of the fact that not everything that is natural is always right. This can lead to complications because if God designed something to naturally do a particular thing and yet it was not right then how can God be all good? If something is not right but it is natural, do we do it anyway knowing it is wrong? These are all decisions, which will be faced and each of them will cause much debate in society because there is no clear right answer. Natural law doesn't depend on emotions or feelings, only rational thinking. This means that emotions do not get in the way of doing what is right or wrong.

When emotions are involved, the issue becomes much more complicated and it becomes harder to determine what the right thing to do is. If feelings are not factors of the theory then we are provided with a stable, logical and sensible guide to moral decision-making. Aside from emotions complicating issues, a strength of natural law is that it is constant unlike emotions which can change over time or when other evidence is provided. If it is based on being rational alone then there are no disputes as to what is right and wrong. We are provided with a solid and structured set of rules to follow because right and wrong are always constant.

The fact that natural law does not allow for circumstances to be taken into consideration makes this a very biased theory. It therefore is questionable as to whether natural law is a balanced and fair guide to moral decision making because unlike other theories it does not take factors into account. It leaves no room for emotions, compassion or sympathy, which in our society is not acceptable because these feelings are a large part of every day life and cannot be just ignored. For example, if a girl was raped and wanted an abortion, it would still be wrong because it is going against the human purpose to pro-create.

The fact that natural law is so constant means that it leaves no room for modernisation. Changes in society can have a big impact on the way we think and behave but by ignoring all outside factors, natural law will not allow for the development of society. People could grow to have many different beliefs, for example homosexuality may become totally acceptable world-wide and because natural law is so absolute, it may become stamped out as people may see it as an incomplete guide to moral thinking. Natural law could also be seen as a discriminating theory.

In a modern society, this prejudice against homosexuals for example is intolerable. Homosexuality is increasingly becoming acceptable so for a theory to stand out as totally going against a way of life that so many live is fatal. Protestors may argue that people are born homosexual and they can't help it so by singling it out we are discriminating against something seen by the majority of society as acceptable. As well as excluding emotions and feelings, natural law does not consider consequences or factors. Something is right because it is natural and what God intended for us.

This also means there is no room for debate or disagreement. Something will be good if it does what it was made to do and if not it is bad, regardless. Empirically, it makes sense to follow natural laws. Logically we can see what the purpose of everything is for example the purpose of a knife is to cut and so therefore naturally we want to fulfil this. It makes sense to allow something to complete the job it was designed to do. This is why it is the basis of science because scientist analyse the natural processes all things go through. It is totally based on the basic form of humans, which is doing what comes naturally to them.

Natural law could however be exploited. For example, a rapist could say that he was trying to fulfil his final cause – i. e. to create another life. Even though we know rape is wrong, he would be allowed to get away with it because he is performing an act, which all humans are naturally inclined to do. This would lead to the theory being abused and demoralised. Finally we must consider the imperfections of humans. People are not always motivated to do things just by logic or reason. Moral decisions are usually made in an non-conscious way so that we are not aware of it and not by a systematic logical thinking process.

It would prove very difficult to train everyone into this method of thinking and to motivate everyone to be bothered to use it all the time. In conclusion we can see that Natural law is a fairly good ethical guide to making decisions, however in a modern day world it is not readily acceptable on its own. Many people will argue that we need to recognise the fact that there are special circumstances where the rules will not apply and we need to make room for these situations and act accordingly. Whether you believe Natural law to be a good basis for life does depend on your own personal opinion.

We each need to weigh up the factors of natural law and decide which ones are more important to us so we can see if it is a good theory or not. The more religious people will tend to conclude that it is a stable and rational theory, which must be followed because it is what God intended. He has a master plan for us all, so by following natural law we are completing the plan he has set for our lives. However the humanist point of view tends to be that although in principle it is a good theory, we need to consider specific situations and emotions before we act accordingly.