SB is one of UD’s treasures, who often puts up gems as comments. Accordingly, I headline
his current response to Mung on laws of (human) nature:
Can you explain why the natural moral law requires a lawgiver?
ETA: I don’t believe in natural laws, I believe in natures/essences. So keep that in mind.
[SB, reply:] Very interesting comment. Let me try to say something that might bring us together.
I assume that we agree that a physical “law,” is really just a human paradigm that describes a “law-like” regularity that is observed in nature. So, ontologically, we are referring to an event that happens over and over again, trying to make sense of it and giving it a name. It is the “nature” of matter to be moved in this way. So, the question becomes, who created matter with such a nature?
If you attribute that regularity or movement to a final cause or something that explains the
Aristotle’s four causes (HT: VPC courtesy Google)
ordered regularity from a philosophical perspective, all well and good. I am just as comfortable with first cause as lawgiver. The philosopher calls it one thing, the scientist, another. Since truth is unified, there can only be one truth. The philosopher studies one aspect from one perspective, the scientist, another. The former is nobler because it probes the why and not just the how.
The point being that order, regularity, and the reasons for it, require an orderer, a regulator, and a reasoner in the same way that any effect requires a cause. I gather that you would agree. Order, regularity, and the nature of matter cannot be brought into existence or be sustained except through some outside power or cause. A nature requires a nature giver, so to speak.
With respect to the moral law, we are really discussing the morality of human nature. What does it mean for a human to be good. Philosophy has already answered that question as well. Anything is good if it operates the way it was designed and intended to operate. (Aristotle, Aquinas).
A good can opener is one that opens cans. A good pencil is one that writes. A good pencil cannot be a a good can opener and it will destroy itself if it tries. So it is with a human being. A good human being is one that operates the way he/she was designed to operate. Humans were designed to practice virtue and avoid vice so that they can be with God someday. It is their nature. Anything that is consistent with their nature is good for them; anything that is not, is bad for them.
Some of us call it that natural moral law to emphasize its binding nature. Break it, and you (and others) will suffer. So, in that sense, I think the word “law” has some merit. If you prefer to dispense with the word “law,” we can call it the morality proper to human nature. Naturally, it applies only to humans, not animals. Like the pencil that destroys itself by assuming the nature of a can opener, a human will destroy himself by assuming the nature of (and acting like) an animal. He will never fulfill his destiny, which is to love and be with God. In the end, he will not be a good person, he will be a bad person. He acted against his nature and his reason for being. If, on the other hand, he has no final purpose of reason for being, then he cannot be good or bad since it is impossible for him to frustrate a purpose that doesn’t exist.
These conditions did not simply appear from out of nowhere. A Creator had to set them up. So, too, in this sense the “law of human nature” or, if you like, the morality of human nature, requires a lawgiver or, if you like, a
first cause, — or nature giver.>>
Well worth pondering, especially in light of the necessary balance of rights, freedoms, duties and responsibilities that marks the distinction between liberty within the pale of the civil peace of justice, and the abusive, ill-advised and ultimately ruinous chaos that results from license . . . the abuse of freedom.