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In this course, Professor Simon Oliver (Durham University) explores natural law theory. In the first module, we examine the role of teleology in the natural law tradition. In the second module, we look more closely at goal orientation in nature with reference to Aristotle, Paley, and Aquinas, and attitudes to intrinsic purposiveness in nature in contemporary philosophy. In the third module, we turn to Aquinas’ views on law, and the different kinds of law in his theological landscape. In the fourth module we explore the application of natural law to moral reasoning, and the doctrine of double effect. In the fifth and final module, we move beyond the syllabus to examine the place of natural law in the theology of creation.
In this module, we introduce teleology in the natural law tradition, focusing in particular on (i) Aristotle’s four modes of causation (ii) the focus away from purposiveness and towards efficient causes in the philosophy of the modern period (iii) the difference between natural and mechanical teleology, and intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation (iv) debates about whether there is purposiveness in nature in contemporary philosophy.