Natural Law in Business Ethicsgeorge
Although this task is generally interpreted as an attempt to analyze concepts of law and the legal system, there is some confusion as to the value and character of conceptual analysis in legal philosophy. As Brian Leiter (1998) points out, philosophy of law is one of the few philosophical disciplines that considers conceptual analysis to be its primary concern; Most other areas of philosophy have taken a naturalistic turn, incorporating the tools and methods of science. To illustrate the role of conceptual analysis in law, Brian Bix (1995) identifies a number of different purposes that conceptual claims can serve: (1) to pursue the use of language; (2) establish service documents; (3) explain what is important or essential about a class of objects; and (4) establish an evaluation test for the word term. Bix assumes that conceptual analysis in law focuses on (3) and (4). Part of the interest of Thomas Aquinas`s material ethics of natural law is that it does not fall into the contemporary categories proper to moral theories. His vision of natural law includes principles of law based on the principles of goodness; Thomas Aquinas sided with utilitarians and consequentialists in general against Kantians. But Thomas Aquinas would deny that the principles of law command us to maximize the good – while allowing considerations of the highest good to play a role in practical reasoning, action can only be done by (e.g.) Bad intent is irrevocably imperfect, imperfect, so that no positive consequence arising from action would suffice to justify it – and in this Thomas Aquinas sides with Kantians against utilitarians. and consequentialists of other allegiances. And although Thomas Aquinas is somewhat Aristotelian, recognizing that virtue will always be necessary to reach the target in a situation of choice, he rejects the view commonly attributed to Aristotle (for doubts whether this is Aristotle`s view; see Irwin 2000) that there are no universally true general principles of law. The perspective of natural law rejects generalized particularism. The important task is therefore to identify the ways in which an action itself may be imperfect. Thomas Aquinas obviously does not identify a master principle that can be used to determine whether an action is imperfect in itself (although in an attempt to identify such a master principle in the work of Thomas Aquinas, Finnis 1998, p. 126), although it indicates where to look – we must consider the characteristics that divide actions, such as their objects (ST IaIIae 18:2), their objectives (ST IaIIae 18:3), their circumstances (ST IaIIae 18:4), etc.
An action can be distorted by a discrepancy between object and end – that is, between the immediate purpose of the action and its furthest point. For example, if one were to regulate one`s pursuit of a greater good in light of a lesser good—for example, if one sought friendship with God for mere physical survival and not the other way around—this would be considered an unreasonable act. An action can be vitiated by circumstances: while one is obliged to profess one`s faith in God, there are certain circumstances in which it is inappropriate to do so (ST. IIaIIae 3:2). An action can be vitiated by its intention alone: to be directed against property – as in murder (ST IIaIIae 64:6), lying (ST IIaIIae 110:3) and blasphemy (ST IIaIIae 13:2) – always means acting inappropriately. Thomas Aquinas has no illusions that we will be able to establish principles of conduct that comprehensively determine the right behavior, as if for every situation in which a good choice must be made, there is a rule that covers the situation. It allows the Aristotelian to understand that the details of the situation always go beyond his own rules, so that one always needs moral and intellectual virtues to act well (commentary NE, II, 2, 259). But he denies that this means that there are no principles of good conduct that apply everywhere and always, and some even absolutely. According to Thomas Aquinas, killing innocent people is always wrong, as is lying, adultery, bestiality and blasphemy; And whether they are always wrong is a matter of natural law. (These are just examples, not an exhaustive list of absolutely prohibited acts.) In the master rule approach, the task of the natural law theorist is to identify a master rule that relates to basic goods and, perhaps in conjunction with other factual premises, is able to establish a set of general rules about which types of reactions to basic goods are reasonable and which are not. Although it is far from clear whether there was only one way in which Thomas Aquinas established moral norms from the primary rules of natural law in the Summa Theologiae, John Finnis has argued (Finnis 1998, p.
126) that Thomas Aquinas applied this master rule approach: In his opinion, Thomas believed that this master rule was the rule of universal love. that one loves one`s neighbor as oneself. This rule asks us to respond with love to the good wherever it can be realized, and we can see from this that certain ways of responding to the good are essentially excluded without love. Grisez clearly applies this approach: he writes that the first principle of morality is that „if one acts willfully for human goods and avoids what is opposed to them, one must choose those and only those possibilities whose will is compatible with a will for integral human fulfillment“ (Grisez 1983, p. 184). This first principle, according to Grisez, implicitly contains various „modes of responsibility“ from which certain moral rules can be deduced. It must be admitted, however, that a coherent theorist of natural law could hardly claim that knowledge derived from the human good is the only possible knowledge.