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A. Human Act and Act of Man Human act one that proceeds from the deliberate free will of man. It is an act that is deliberately and knowingly performed by one having the use of reason. Therefore, both intellect and will are in play. It is an act proper to man as man.

Act of man one that is not dependent upon intellect and free will. It is done by a human person but is not proper to him as a person but it does stem from those faculties which are peculiar to man, namely intellect and free will. In plain language, an act of man is essentially an animal act.

For an act to be considered a human act, it must posses the following essential attributes: 1. It must be performed by a conscious agent who is aware of what he is doing and of its consequences. 2. It must be performed by an agent who is acting freely, that is by his own volition and power. 3. It must be performed by an agent who decides willfully to perform the act.

Human acts must, therefore, be knowing, free, and willful. The lack of any of these attributes renders an act defective and less voluntary. In judging the morality of acts (whether they are good or evil), obviously we are concerned only with human acts. The moral law has nothing to do with acts of man.


Every human act derives its morality from three elements; a) the act itself (which moralists technically call the object) b) the purpose of the act ( sometimes called the end) and c) circumstances surrounding the act. Moralists refer to these elements as object, end, and circumstances. In language less technical, we shall refer to them as act, purpose, and circumstances.

1. The act itself in order to judge the morality of human act, we must consider the act itself. Moral judgment must be based not only on the physical aspect of an act but also on its moral aspect. If a man tells a lie, the moralist must base his judgment not on the physical act of uttering words but rather on the telling of an untruth.

2. Purpose it is the reason for which an act is performed, or the intention of the agent. It should be observed that the purpose will not always change the morality of an act because some acts are intrinsically wrong (evil by their nature).

3. Circumstances - are those factors, distinct from the act itself and from the purpose, which may affect the morality of the act. Circumstances alter cases. Any careful moral judgment will weigh the circumstances.


1. An act is morally good if the act itself, the purpose and the circumstance are substantially good. 2. If an act itself is intrinsically evil (evil by its very nature), the act is not morally allowable regardless of purpose or circumstances. 3. If an act is in itself morally good or at least indifferent, its morality will be judged by the purpose or circumstances.

4. Circumstances may create, mitigate, or aggravate sin. They may change an indifferent act into one that is morally sinful. 5. If all three moral elements (the act, purpose, and circumstances) are good, the act is good. If any one element is evil, the act is evil.


1. Ignorance lack of knowledge in a person capable of knowing. In some cases we are responsible for knowledge, in other cases we are not; in other words, there are different types of ignorance. 1.1. Ignorance of the law lack of knowledge that a particular law exists. 1.2. Ignorance of the fact lack of realization that one is violating a law.

1.3 Vincible ignorance it implies culpable (responsible for wrong or error) negligence. The subject could know and ought to know. 1.3. Simple vincible ignorance is present when one makes some, but not sufficient, effort to dispel (get rid of) his ignorance.

1.5. Crass vincible ignorance is what results from a mere lack of effort. 1.6.Affected vincible ignorance deliberately fostered in order to avoid any obligation that knowledge might bring to light. 1.7. Invincible ignorance- which cannot be dispelled. This situation may exist either because the individual is unable to secure adequate information, even after a reasonable effort, or because he simply does not know that there is any problem- in other words, he is ignorant of his ignorance. The person cannot be expected to take steps to enlighten himself because he is unaware that he is in need of any enlightenment.

Moral principles concerning ignorance can be summed up invincible ignorance eliminates responsibility. Vincible ignorance does not eliminate moral responsibility but lessens it.


2. Fear an agitation or disturbance of mind resulting from some present or imminent danger. It is one of the emotions. Several types of fear: 2.1. Light fear fear in which the evil threatening is either present-but-slight or grave-but-remote.

2.2. Grave fear present when the evil threatening is considered as serious. 2.3. Intrinsic grave fear agitation of the mind which arises because of a disposition within ones own mind or body. 2.4. Extrinsic fear agitation of the mind which arises from something outside oneself. Moral Principle concerning fear- Fear diminishes the voluntary nature of an act


3. Concupiscence the rebellion of passion against reason; or tendency of human nature toward evil. Passion may be defined as the sense appetites of human nature reaching out toward their objects. Under this heading woild come love, hatred, joy, grief, desire, hope, courage, fear and anger.

Concupiscence may be divided into two types; Antecedent- precedes an act of the will and is not willfully stimulated, such as sudden anger. Consequent-stimulated by the will, such as anger deliberately fostered.

Moral Principles Concerning concupiscence Antecedent concupiscence lessens the voluntary nature of human acts and lessens the degree of moral responsibility. Consequent concupiscence-does not lessen moral responsibility; rather a person acting with consequent concupiscence is completely responsible.


4. Violence an external force applied by someone on another in order to compel him to perform an action against his will. In cases where the victim gives complete resistance, the violence is classified as perfect violence. However, if the victim offers insufficient resistance, the violence is classified as imperfect violence.

4.1. Perfect violence-complete resistance is given maybe either physically or morally perfect. Morally perfect violence is that in which all powers of resistance that should be used are employed. 4.2. Imperfect violence some resistance is shown but not as much as should be

Moral Principle concerning violence ; Perfect violence that which is done from perfect violence is entirely involuntary, and so in such cases. There is no moral responsibility. Imperfect violence done under the influence of imperfect violence is less voluntary, and so the moral responsibility is lessened but not taken away completely.


Placing a judgment upon the objective morality of a human act in the concrete involves a consideration of all the conditions which affect morality: the nature of the act itself, the purpose of the agent, the circumstances, ignorance, fear, concupiscence, violence, habit, temperament and mental disorder.