Aquinas came around the time when the power of the church was declining and concept of secular state was gaining momentum.
- Aquinas intended to counter this secularism wave through a rational argument.
- He argued that political state is based on the natural needs of man.
- The order, as God is responsible for both needs and their satisfaction. state is part of a divine
- The controlling principles of the universe supplied the ultimate criteria by which human laws must be judged.
- Aquinas then divided law into further four categories:-
- Aquinas believed that universe is the creation of God.
- He argued that since God is rational by nature, the universe cannot be random.
- Eternal law is divided into two more categories:-
o Laws that are subject of physical, biological and social sciences and according to which universe functions
o laws of behaviour that distinguishes right and wrong conduct
- Eternal law is not knowable as to know eternal law is to know God’s mind and that is not humanly possible.
- Aquinas illustrated this using example of sun by arguing that we do not know what sun is like but merely an idea from its effects on earth.
- Since every person is subject to eternal law why there exist wrongdoers. Aquinas gives two reasons:-
o human beings have imperfect knowledge of the eternal law and therefore are prone to error
o the eternal law rewards good people with happiness and punishes the bad ones
- Laws forming part of the eternal law that is followed despite not knowing them.
- Human beings follow laws of nature such as eat, drink and sleep despite not knowing about the biological functions of human body,
- Natural law is that part of the moral eternal law that rational human beings understand by their God-given reason, which is denied to physical objects and other animals.
- It consists of the Ten Commandments and other authoritative Scriptures.
- It is important because:-
o Natural law only helps in survival to aspire to a higher supernatural end directions are needed which are given in divine laws.
o Human understanding to interpret natural rule is flawed and may lead to wrong interpretation. Hence, cardinal moral rules need to be prescribed.
o Human made laws cannot govern direct interior acts.
o Human laws cannot punish evil all evil without hurting common good. Eg – Cannot ban virtues like lust, selfishness, impatience etc.
- It consists of law established by custom or by the legislative acts of the state.
- Aquinas held that the moral authority for human lawmaking is found in that part of the eternal law which reason reveals to man in the form of natural law.
- There are two ways in which human law is derived from the natural law:-
o By deriving logical consequences from the self-evident premises of natural law
o By determining the way natural law applies to particular types of cases
- There exists three pre-conditions for the recognition of an enactment as a law at all:-
o Law is made for the common good
o Law is made by the whole people or by God’s vice regent for the whole people, who is the monarch ruling by divine right
o Law is promulgated