Principles of Catholic Moral Theology by wuy61796


									Part I - Law
                           Civil law

There are
different    Natural law
kinds of
                                 Canon law

            Divine law

                                 Civil law
                                                   Civil law is founded
                                                   upon natural law
                   Natural law
Natural law
is a
                                                    Church law is rooted in an
in divine law,                         Canon law    understanding of divine law
but is
naturally                                           and the historical situation
known                                               of the Church.
                 Divine law
                      Divine Law
Divine Law is that which is enacted by God and made known to
man through revelation. We distinguish between the Old Law,
contained in the Pentateuch, and the New Law, which was
revealed by Jesus Christ and is contained in the New Testament.
                      Canon Law
Canon law (Church law) is the body of laws and regulations
made by or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the
government of the Christian organization and its members.
                      Civil Law

Civil law: man made law. Can be just or unjust, depending
upon how it squares with natural law. I.e., one must be 18 in
order to vote, 19 in order to drink, one must drive on the
right side of the road, etc.
Natural Law
Cicero writes of the natural law: “True law
is right reason in agreement with
is of universal application, unchanging and
everlasting.... we need not look outside
ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of
it. And there will not be different laws at
Rome and at Athens, or different laws now
and in the future, but one eternal and
unchangeable law will be valid for all
nations and for all times, and there will be
one master and one rule, that is, God, over
us all, for He is the author of this law, its
promulgator, and its enforcing judge.”
Civil and Natural Law

    Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his Letter from the
    Birmingham Jail: “Now what is the difference between
    the two? How does one determine when a law is just or
    unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with
    the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code
    that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the
    terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human
    law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law
    that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that
    degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation
    statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul
    and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a
    false sense of superiority, and the segregated a false sense
    of inferiority. …”
                    Natural Law
First principle of speculative reason:

              Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and
              in the same respect.

                First principle of practical reason:

   Good is to be done, evil is to be avoided
Part II – The Good
                       The Good

The good: that which all things desire. All things desire
their own perfection, that is, their own complete flourishing.

Human beings have natural inclinations or desires (to be
distinguished from acquired desires, and/or perverted
 Apparent goods

                                                 True goods

Apparent goods appear to be
perfective of the human person,
but they are destructive of the
human person.
                                       True goods are truly perfective
I.e., a poison apple, associating      of the human person. Self-
with criminals, an adulterous
relationship, living a life of total
                                       control, honest friendships,
leisure without ever working, etc.     healthy foods, etc.
                   Sensible Goods
Some of the desires (goods) we have are common to animals.
These goods are sensible goods (desire for warmth, sense
pleasure, etc).
                 Intelligible Goods
But other desires (goods) are specifically human. These latter
goods are intelligible (known via the intellect), and so they
have no color, taste, feel, etc. For example, friendship cannot
be sensed, nor can justice.

                                          This is not justice, but a
                                          symbol of justice
                                          unintelligible to a brute
                           Natural Law
From these intelligible human goods (natural), more specific
moral precepts (rules, regulations, laws) can be drawn out.

If we know what is humanly good, we can begin to draw out
the more specific demands of natural law.

                First principle                   precepts
                (good is to be done, evil is to   i.e., do not
                be avoided)                       harm others
                    Human Goods
• Religion: God is the Supreme Good, and so that part of
  justice that seeks harmony between oneself and God is
  called religion.
• Integrity (integration of the elements of the self, harmony
  between reason and my choices, and the will and the
• The Common Good (sociability): The harmonious
  relationship that exists between oneself and the civil
  community as a whole.
• Marriage/family.
• Friendship: relationships based on common qualities and
• Knowledge
• Leisure (the enjoyment of the beautiful/art and play)
• Life (bodily goods)


External Material Goods

              Wealth and Shelter

            These serve human life
             and the higher goods,
             such as truth, leisure,
                friendship, etc.
Goods of the Body

             » Life (health)

• Pleasure
• The human person has a
  natural inclination to
  preserve his life; for he
  sees his life as basically
  good. That is why he acts
  to preserve it, and why
  married couples choose to
  beget life.
Goods of the Soul
            Intellect and Will


Knowledge             Contemplation of Beauty
• We desire to know, to contemplate. Man has
  a natural sense of wonder. Human beings ask
  questions, seek answers, wonder about the
  causes of things. Man is a knower.
Leisure (Contemplation
   of the Beautiful)
• Man is inclined to behold
  the beautiful. Beauty
  captivates us, whether it is
  beautiful music, a beautiful
  sunset, a beautiful painting,
  a beautiful face, or a
  beautiful life.

• Although the possession of
  truth is a distinct good,
  truth is beautiful, especially
  in its order. The higher we
  climb (wisdom), the more
  beautiful truth becomes. In
  fact, truth and beauty are
  one in God.
   (Making and
• Man is a maker. He
  loves to produce or
  make things. He likes
  to build, to play
  (games/sports), to
  create, to recreate,
  simply for its own
  sake. Making and
  play are intrinsically
                                                Goods of the Will

                       Sociability/the common good


       Goods of the Will
Friendship: relationship founded upon
common qualities and common interests.
                        3 types based on:

                        •   Pleasure
                        •   Utility (useful friend)
                        •   Benevolence
                            (genuine friendship):
                            friend is loved for his
                            sake, not for the sake of
                            what he does for me
                            (I.e., useful or pleasant
                            to me)
                               Goods of the Will

•   Man is inclined to marry, to give himself
    completely to another, to belong to
    another exclusively and permanently in
    one flesh union that is open to the
    begetting of new life. Both husband and
    wife will to beget human life because
    goodness is effusive, and their unique
    conjugal relationship is good.
                                           Goods of the Will
The Common Good of the Civil
Man is a social and political animal.
He enters into relationship not only
with friends, but with the civil
community as a whole. There is a
difference between his own private
good and the common good of the
whole. Just as a hockey player has
his own private scoring record, his
end as a player is a common good,
namely victory for the whole team.

The common good is a good in which everyone can participate without diminishing
any other member’s share in it. Just as a good player thinks of the team before his
own private scoring record, a good human person lives for the common good, not
merely his own private good. The criminal is different in that he has no regard for
the common good, but puts himself before civil community as a whole.
                             Goods of the Will
      Integrity (Virtue)
•   Man is inclined to seek integration within
    himself, an integration of the complex elements
    of himself. This is because he seeks to be most
    fully, and one (along with good, beauty, and
    true) is a property of being. He is inclined to
    bring about a more intense unity within himself,
    namely 1) an integration between truth and his
    acts, 2) his actions and his character, as well as
    3) his will and his emotions. Bringing order to
    the passions (cultivating temperance and
    fortitude) is good in itself, but is also a means to
    a higher end. A person aims to be temperate
    and brave for the sake of possessing the highest
    good (God), the possession of which is
    threatened by excessive sensuality and/or by
    inordinate fear and daring.
                                                           Goods of the Will
•   Man aspires after what is higher than him
    because he is aware of his thirst, among other
    things. He beholds his own finitude and the
    finitude of creation. He aspires to what is beyond
    the temporal to the eternal, yet he cannot
    transcend the limits of his nature. But he dreams
    about it. He seeks to know the giver behind the
    gift of his existence. As a spiritual nature, he is
    open to the whole of reality, the whole of being
    (universal being). He seeks to know the “whole of
    reality”, that is, to possess the bonum
    universale. We know from revelation that he is
    not going to attain it on his own; Scripture reveals
    that this can only happen through God’s initiative
    (divine grace). He cannot, of his own nature,
    attain God. If he is to attain the bonum
    universale, it can only be through another
    gratuitous giving, distinct from creation (divine
    grace). He depends upon the divine initiative. In
    fact, even his own natural happiness is dependent
    upon the gratuitous self-giving of others; for he
    cannot force people to be his friends. And so this
    dependency upon the divine initiative is not
    incongruent at all, for man knows already that an
    element of his own happiness is the feeling of
    having a debt that cannot be paid.
These intrinsic human goods form a hierarchy
                                               Although human
                                               goods are good in
                                               and of themselves
                                               and are sought for
                                               their own sake, they
                                               also exist “for the
                                               sake of” higher
Part III - Character
Moral: from the Latin mores: character. Moral Identity: the kind of
person one is or has made oneself to be.

Morality is not about choices that promise to bring about
an external state of affairs most conducive to the quality
of life one desires for oneself or others.
Rather, it is about the making of character.

We determine our character, our moral identity, by the
free choices that we make, and our very destiny is
determined by the kind of persons we’ve made ourselves
to be.

Your character is more intimately yours than anything else
you may have.
The human person is like a blank cheque. He has an already given
structure (I.e., human nature with definite powers), but there is a
space for him/her to “fill”, to complete, and this is one’s moral
identity or character.
Character vs. Personality
            Character is not the same as personality.
            You can have a great personality, but
            depraved character, like serial killer Ted
            Bundy on the left.

            You can also have a grumpy, or bland
            personality, but saintly character.

            Much of our personality is determined,
            either inherited or environmental.

            But character is entirely ours.
            (the relationship between what I choose and what I am)
                                 doing & being

I choose to lie                                        I become a liar
                                                       (even a nice liar)

I choose to steal                                      I become a thief
                                                       (even a nice thief)

I choose to kill                                       I become a killer
                                                       (even a nice killer)

I choose to gossip                                     I become a gossip
                                                       (yes, even a nice gossip)
Man is an artist who sculpts his
own moral identity, the kind of
person he is or is becoming. By
my own choice, I become either a
good person, fully orientated
towards “the good” (God, who is
the Supreme Good), or an evil
person, that is, a person deficient
in my relationship to the entire
spectrum of human goods.
Part IV – Secondary Precepts of
          Natural Law
                Secondary Precepts

The first principle of morality is “good is to be done, evil is to be

This, however, is very general. It breaks down into more specific
moral precepts when seen against the background of the basic
human goods.

                  First principle              precepts       actions
Secondary Precepts

One notices that the basic human goods form
a hierarchy:
Family   (others)
       is                     God
       be                     Family
       Evil                   Others (the social whole)
       to                     Individual good

Given the first principle of practical reason and the human goods,
one can draw out the following practical implications or precepts
                          Secondary Precepts
1.      God is to be loved above all things
[If God is Goodness Itself, the Supreme Good, then “relationship” with God is the greatest human

                2.    One ought to render due honour to one’s parents
                [the family is the society through which we enter this world. We owe a debt to our parents that
                       cannot be fully repaid. Relationship with this first society is humanly good and of the highest

3.      One ought to reverence the marriage bond
[because marriage is an intelligible human good and the basis of the family]

                                        4.    Do not harm others
One ought not to do anything that harms the common good of the civil community
              One must direct one’s life towards the common good
     [I experience my life as good, because I’m inclined to protect it. I also know that the other is of the same
            nature as myself and thus sees his own life as equally good. I ought not to inflict harm on others,
                                            because they are basically good]
5) If others are intrinsically and humanly good, then one ought not to willingly destroy
      an instance of an intrinsic human good for the sake of some other intrinsic good.
      [In other words, one must not do evil to achieve good]

          6) Since human goods are intrinsically good, that is, ends in themselves, then
      one ought not to treat another human person as a means to an end. [Persons must be
      loved, not used; things must be used, not loved]

7) Since others are equally good, since they are essentially equal, it follows that
     one ought not to treat certain others with a preference based purely on
     feelings, unless a preference is required by human goods. [In other words, one
     ought always to treat others in a way that respects their status as equal in dignity to oneself]

          8) The common good can only be achieved in communion with others, so
          if we ought to revere the common good, one ought not to act
          individualistically for intelligible human goods, but in community with

9) And since man is a rational animal who desires his own fullness of being (good), he
ought to act rationally. Hence, one ought not to act purely on the basis of emotion,
either on the basis of fear, aversion, hostility, or desire for sensible goods, but ought to
act on the basis of reason, in pursuit of intelligible goods and in accordance with all the
precepts of natural law. [to act purely on the basis of emotion is to act as a brute, without the guidance of
reason. A specifically human act is motivated by intelligible human goods and is guided by reason]
    10. And since each person is intrinsically good and one
    (integral), and since one desires to be integrated, one ought not
    to violate that integrity. Hence, one ought not to lie (an
    immediate violation of integrity), and one ought to choose in
    accordance with one’s best judgment on what to do here and
    now (conscience), and one ought to relentlessly pursue that truth
    of what is right and wrong, to make sure one’s acts conform to
    the demands of the natural law.

11. One ought not to take what rightfully belongs to another (property)
Part V – The Elements of the
         Human Act
• Moral Object
• Motive
• Circumstances
             Moral Object
• Answers the question: What is being done?
  What are you choosing to do?
• Answers the question: Why is this being
  done? What is the reason why you are
  choosing this course of action?
• When? Where? How? Why? Who? By
  what means?
• A moral circumstance modifies the act, but
  it does not cause the act to be the kind of
  moral act that it is.
Moral Principle

Evil is a deficiency, a lack of something that ought to
be there.


• In order for an action to be morally good, all
  three elements must be good.
• If any of the elements are evil, the entire
  action is evil (defective).
     Example (Moral Object = Evil)
   • Moral Object: A married man has an affair
   • Motive: In order to comfort the woman with
     whom he’s having an affair.
   • Circumstances: She’s depressed, she’s
     married but going through a tough time, etc.
Secondary precept violated: revere the marriage bond (do not
commit adultery)
           Example (Motive = Evil)
   • Moral Object: Helping an old lady cross the
   • Motive: Merely in the hopes that she will
     give you some money.
   • Circumstances: Winter, icy road, need
     money for cigarettes, etc.

Secondary precept violated: One ought not to treat another
as a means to an end.
      Example (Circumstances that render an
          otherwise good act immoral)

    • Moral Object: Practicing my putting stroke.
    • Motive: In order to improve my game.
    • Circumstances: Where? At a funeral home
      with nice green carpet. When? At my
      mother’s funeral wake.
Secondary precept violated: Lack of due reverence for the
deceased. One ought not to treat certain others with a preference based
purely on feeling, that is, to treat others in a way that fails to respect their
status as equal in dignity to oneself.
Part VI - The Principle of Double
Sometimes an action has two effects: a good effect
and an evil effect. What does one do?
               The Conditions

There are certain conditions which must be observed
before one may perform the action in question. Should
any of these conditions be violated, one may not
perform the action.
        The Conditions
1. The action itself (which has two
effects) must be a good action, or at
least morally indifferent. In other
words, it cannot be an evil act.
Otherwise, we'd be doing evil to
achieve good.
        The Conditions
2. One must not positively will the
evil effect. That is, one must not
intend the evil effect. One may only
permit or allow the evil effect.
Permitting and intending are two very
different ways of relating to human
       The Conditions
3. The good effect must proceed
directly from the action and not from
the evil effect. For this would
involve doing evil to achieve good.
Here, the good effect proceeds from the evil
effect. If this were the scenario, one would
have to will the evil effect in order to
achieve the good effect. This violates the
second condition. For one must not will
evil for the sake of a good.
       The Conditions
4. The good effect must be
sufficiently desirable to compensate
for the allowing of the evil effect.
           Intending vs. Accepting
                      No one intends to wear out their
                      shoes. One wills that they never wear
                      out, that they last forever.

But one accepts the inevitable. One accepts the fact that when
I choose to wear my shoes, they are going to wear out.

To top