Natural law and Utilitarianism are philosophical topics that were highly scrutinized in the Middle Ages because of their different perspectives on diverse issues in the society. These schools of thought were particularly based on morality and ethical issues that are constantly encountered by human beings. The laws differ in perception of truth and happiness or pleasure despite their main agenda being based on societal ethics. Jeremy Bentham proposed utilitarianism in the year 1789, and Stuart Mills refined the philosophy in 1859. St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13 th century, had proposed natural law that is the direct opposite of utilitarianism.
The natural law proposed by St. Aquinas makes sense to me because it is majorly based on the eternal law of conscience and self-discernment. This law defines truth as “an activity of the soul in accordance with reason and virtue” as opposed to utilitarianism which defines it as pleasure and not a virtue. The natural law proposes that good is to be done and all evil is to be avoided at whatever cost as part of morality. The law supports civil and governmental laws set to ensure morality and promote honesty and truth. Eternal law, being the backbone of natural law, clearly elaborates on cardinal values such as equality, wisdom, intellectuality, and temperance.
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I do not find much sense in utilitarianism because of the extent in which it promotes free will and neglects societal virtues such as truth and honesty. The law promotes lies and neglects the need for rules and regulations that are imposed on people by the society or the government. In addition, the law finds happiness in breaking the rules and reduces humans to machine-like sensing creatures that are driven by their feelings rather than by virtues. Using pain and pleasure to justify every deed will erase the initial intention of the action and using felicific calculus to calculate the outcome of the same action takes a long time.