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The Development of Ethics: Volume 1From Socrates to the Reformation$
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Terence Irwin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198242673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242673.001.0001

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Aquinas: Natural Law

Aquinas: Natural Law

(p.545) 21 Aquinas: Natural Law
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1


Oxford University Press

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

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