I intend to post several short to medium length thoughts on natural law, and a general defense of natural law, that I have previously written. These are intended to be cumulative and hence will be ordered in the title with numbers. Please read them in order for them to make the most sense. I hope that most of what I say will not be technical nor rambling. To that end, let me begin by stating what I think is the correct place to start (this builds off of the last two previous posts as well).
Ethics is better understood, and more fully developed, when we glimpse at what human nature is, what human capacities are, and what the moral life consists in. Let us allow a claim: there is no fundamental separation between metaphysics and ethics; together they can form a coherent system. This is and ought to be a guiding light in discussion and research. In the attempt to find a foundation for the theory of ethics it will quickly be discovered that that foundation is ontological in nature, and complicated. If one seeks a motivation in this endeavor it can be found in practical matters: having an ethical theory that is well founded can serve as the guide to a rational and fulfilling life.[i] The foundation, then, of an ethics of human action must be explained in order to know whether such a proposed ethical system is warranted. The Aristotelian tradition and the explanation of human nature given within it provide an answer that is not only fitting to the project, but of the only type possible. This claim shall be defended here. The foundations of a warranted virtue theory of human action must be found within the meaning of human nature, given that before we can know what we ought to do we must first know what we can do, but before we can know that we must know what we are. To that end it can be seen that Natural Law, as found within the extended Aristotelian tradition, avails us to such a foundation and theory.
[i] Among other considerations of course.