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  • Date Submitted: 01/08/2013 04:04 PM
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Natural law is the best approach to environmental issues. Discuss.

“The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the earth lies polluted under inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth”
(The revised standard version of the bible – Isaiah 24:4-6)
What is natural law?
Natural law is a deontological, absolutist ethical theory, meaning that it is focussed upon “the ethicity of actions”. The ethical theory derives from Aristotle, and his idea that everything has a purpose to fulfil in life; this is the supreme ‘good’ to be sought as we all have a goal to reach that purpose. This goal for humans is eudaimonia, which can translate into happiness; however, it carries more depth in that it carries the idea of living and doing well. The foundational principle is ‘to do good and avoid evil’. This is the ultimate message of natural law. “Natural law is not concerned with what nature does... rather; it is based on nature as interpreted by human reason.” (mel-thompson.co.uk/naturallawlecture). Natural law is closely linked within Christian teaching because of St. Thomas Aquinas and the impact he had upon the ethic. He continued from Aristotle to develop the theory by describing natural law as a moral code existing within nature. At the heart of the theory is the “eternal law of divine reason” (Bowie- ethical studies). Natural law maintains that a moral life can only be lived in accordance with reason and reason is vital as it determines that the ultimate purpose of life is fellowship with God. Aquinas’ primary precepts that are required to ensure this goal is reached and fulfilled. The primary precepts are absolutist and do not change with society’s, “natural law is the same for all men” (Aristotle – Nicomachean ethics).

How can natural law be applied to Environmental ethics?
Aquinas developed 5 precepts, “to live, to learn, to reproduce, to live in...

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