chapter  5
16 Pages

The Scholastic Theory of Moral Law in the Modern World

WithAlan Donagan

This chapter explores the scholastic theory of natural law, in particular, St. Thomas' version of it, may have something to offer contemporary non-Christian moral philosophy. There are two reasons for dismissing this thesis as a fantastic absurdity. The first is derived from a cardinal doctrine of modem ethical theory, the second from a cardinal doctrine of scholasticism. The vast majority of analytic philosophers would accept the doctrine of the autonomy of ethics as fundamental. St. Thomas statement that good is that which all things seek must be understood as meaning that good is that which all things by nature seek; and, since man is a rational animal, applied to man it means that human good is that which all men seek by virtue of their nature as rational animals. The chapter examines St. Thomas' derivation of a precept of the natural law that is not very controversial: the precept that lying is evil and to be avoided.