Two stories about the natural law.
This post consists of two stories about the natural law. The first is about an experience of mine, the second is a thought experiment. What connects them is my belief that most of us assume the natural law exists; we just don’t know we know it. A previous post on Thomas Aquinas, deals with the foundations of the natural law. This post is more about practice than theory.
The county school board ethics committee, or “keep your body parts to yourself”
A number of years ago, I was invited to serve on the ethics curriculum advisory panel of a local county school board. The goal was to develop an ethics curriculum for the lower grades. Our advisory panel had representatives of all the good people in the community: ministers, rabbis, a couple of concerned parents, a couple of concerned teachers, and me, a university professor of ancient Greek ethics. What should an ideal ethics curriculum teach?
We never got anywhere. We got stuck at the very beginning. Should we teach students that they shouldn’t hit each other?
“How can we teach that?” said one committee member, echoing several more. “Some cultures value the physical expression of difference, and who are we to say otherwise?”
That’s where we got stuck, at the very beginning. The odd thing about this committee was that nobody thought that students should hit each other, and nobody knew of any culture anywhere that valued students hitting each other. It was just the very possibility that some culture somewhere valued “the physical expression of difference” that caused the committee members to lose confidence in their own beliefs. Continue reading Two stories about the natural law