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Aquinas on Natural Law

1. Natural Law and Aquinas' Theological Worldview

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In this module, we contextualise Aquinas’ account of natural law within his overall theological worldview. In particular, examine (i) the Aristotelian foundations of Aquinas’ account of natural law, and the idea of the natural law as the standard of justice (ii) moral and metaphysical challenges to the reality of natural law (iii) the organisation of Aquinas’ natural law in the Summa Theologica (iv) the relationship between Aquinas’ account of natural law and his theology (v) the relationship between natural law and the virtues.


In this course Dr Daniel De Haan (University of Oxford) examines Aquinas’ ethics of natural law. In the first module, we situate Aquinas’ account of natural law within his overarching theological worldview. Then, we look at Aquinas’ four kinds of law, before moving on to his treatment of natural law. In looking at natural law, we relate Aquinas’ views on reasoning, his distinction between operations, powers and habits of the intellect, and his concept of synderesis to his ethics. In the fourth module, we examine the virtues, and their essential place in Aquinas’ account of natural law. After that we explore some objections to natural law, and investigate Aquinas’ doctrine of double effect as a means to respond to such objections. Finally, we discuss how natural law informs, and features within, contemporary debates concerning human rights, human nature, and morality.


Dr Daniel De Haan is a Senior Research Fellow & Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology in the Catholic Tradition at the University of Oxford. His research interests are in philosophical theology, Christian and religious ethics, and science and religion. His most recent publications include Aquinas on Perceiving, Thinking, Understanding, and Cognizing Individuals (2019), and Approaching Other Animals with Caution: Exploring Insights from Aquinas's Psychology (2019)

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APA style

De Haan, D. (2022, March 28). Aquinas on Natural Law - Natural Law and Aquinas' Theological Worldview [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

De Haan, D. "Aquinas on Natural Law – Natural Law and Aquinas' Theological Worldview." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Mar 2022,

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