The Natural Law Tradition in Ethics Discussion Questions


I’m studying for my Philosophy class and don’t understand how to answer this. Can you help me study?

1) According to Pascal, does reason per se give us the knowledge of first principles or of natural truths, or does our knowledge of them stem from another source? If so, what the name(s) does he give to this other kind of knowledge?

2) While human reason is unable to prove these first principles, absolutely speaking, doesn’t it play a role in establishing their evidence (hint: see the end of On the Geometrical Spirit against the Chevalier de Méré)?

3) According to Pascal, it is “doubtless” that there are natural principles of justice or “natural laws”.

a) Identify the various texts that support this claim that there are indeed “natural laws”.

b) If such natural principles of justice exist, why is it nonetheless the case that justice remains a matter of dispute (as is claimed in Fr. S135 L103)? Why aren’t humans capable of settling such disputes over justice by means of rational argument as is the case in geometry (hint: see the first paragraphs of the Art of Persuasion)? Why in your view are force and violence necessarily involved in the settling of such disputes over justice, according to Pascal?

4) “And thus being unable to make what is just strong, we have made what is strong just” (Fr. S135 L103): Can the epithet “just” mean the same things in the parts of this sentence? Does this proposition not make violence to reason?


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