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Prepared by Fides Angeli G. Sabio With contributions from Sofia A. David June 1, 2004

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE ETHICS............................................................................................................................................1 Note to the Ethics Teacher...........................................................................................................3 Part I: Introduction to Ethics.......................................................................................................5 Chapter 1: What is Ethics? ..............................................................................................................5 Definition of Ethics.....................................................................................................................5 Ethics and the particular sciences. Ethics as metaphysics of the end..........................................6 Why study ethics?........................................................................................................................7 Important presuppositions in the study of Ethics........................................................................7 Ethics and moral uprightness.......................................................................................................8 Chapter 2: Anthropological Bases of Ethics....................................................................................9 The Human Person: As Revealed in Moral Experience..............................................................9 The Selfhood of Human Persons.................................................................................................9 The person is a subject of rights................................................................................................11 The selfhood and transcendence of persons..............................................................................11 The value of human persons......................................................................................................12 Happiness and the End of the Human Person............................................................................12 Part II. Ethics Proper................................................................................................................15 Chapter 3: The Good......................................................................................................................15 Definition of good/ the good has the character of an end..........................................................15 Kinds of Good/Distinction between real good and apparent good............................................16 Categories of Human Goods (as specified by Grisez)...............................................................17 Definition of evil.......................................................................................................................18 The Good as the Last End..........................................................................................................18 Chapter 4: Common good..............................................................................................................19 What is common good?.............................................................................................................19 Obstacles to the common good..................................................................................................22 The principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.............................................................................23 Chapter 5: The Natural Law..........................................................................................................25 The concept of ought and what it signifies...............................................................................25 What is natural law? .................................................................................................................26 Why this law is natural...........................................................................................................27 Natural law as a participation in the Eternal law.......................................................................27 Our natural inclinations as the source of natural law................................................................28 Basic natural inclinations whose natural rules constitute the natural law.................................30 The precepts of natural law.......................................................................................................31 The natural law and human positive law...................................................................................32 Summary of ideas on natural law .............................................................................................33 Chapter 6: Conscience and Synderesis..........................................................................................34 What conscience is not and what conscience is.........................................................................34 Conscience and prudence..........................................................................................................35 Is conscience always right?.......................................................................................................36 Do good and avoid evil..............................................................................................................37 Chapter 7: Morality of human action.............................................................................................38 Human acts as personal acts......................................................................................................38

3 The object of a moral action......................................................................................................39 The intention..............................................................................................................................40 Circumstances............................................................................................................................41 Consequences of human action.................................................................................................42 Intrinsically good or evil actions...............................................................................................43 Formation in freedom................................................................................................................44 Chapter 8: Virtues and Vices.........................................................................................................45 Habits.........................................................................................................................................45 Virtue and human perfection.....................................................................................................46 The moral virtues: why four cardinal virtues?...........................................................................48 Prudence....................................................................................................................................49 Justice........................................................................................................................................50 Temperance...............................................................................................................................51 Fortitude.....................................................................................................................................54 Part III: Ethical Systems...........................................................................................................56 Chapter 9: A Review of Ethical Systems.......................................................................................56 Consequentialism.......................................................................................................................56 Utilitarianism.............................................................................................................................57 A critique of utilitarianism........................................................................................................58 Hedonism...................................................................................................................................59 Critique of hedonism.................................................................................................................59 Pragmatism................................................................................................................................60 Critique of pragmatism..............................................................................................................61 APPENDIX A................................................................................................................................62 Karol Wojtyla's View Of The Human Person...........................................................................62 APPENDIX B................................................................................................................................72 Persons Are Unrepeatable.........................................................................................................72 APPENDIX C................................................................................................................................74 The Revenge of Conscience......................................................................................................74

Note to the Ethics Teacher

Knowledge of some, if not all, of the classical treatises in Philosophy is important in the liberal arts tradition, especially as taught in the University of Asia and the Pacific. Therefore, to go through a so-called liberal arts education without handling the texts in their originals would be akin to knowing a classic literary masterpiece through book notes, an experience not of the original but of some regurgitated fare. Not that we are disparaging some excellent commentaries on original texts but the main point being the idea that theres no substitute for reading the original texts yourself. Moreover, to deprive the students of the opportunity to deal with the

4 classical texts firsthand may almost be a crime comparable to an act of injustice. For after all, the classical treatises of Ethics, and the great ideas of philosophy in general, form part of the cultural patrimony of mankind and should therefore be made accessible to those who are supposed to inherit them. If the modern student in general does not have the taste, or even less the facility to go through the classical texts, then all the more does it become imperative for the teacher to rise up to this challenge of training his/her pupils to develop the taste and facility for such a task. Although the regular CAS student may seemingly not have the time or inclination to plod through the classical texts themselves, the teacher and student alike may find the effort more effective and more intellectually rewarding. With the guidance of the teacher, the students can arrive at the conclusions which form part of the body of lessons that are expected to be learned at the end of the semester. Many students will rise up to this challenge although there will be some who will simply hang on to the notes for dear life to understand the content. Nonetheless, the endeavor in itself is worth pursuing. For this reason, the manual has been designed to work hand in hand with certain selected texts which will be required reading for the students. Requiring the students to read the selected texts will then require two things of the teacher: a) Thorough knowledge of the assigned texts; and b) The ability to guide the students reading, thinking and learning, in order to reach the appropriate conclusions and meet the learning objectives. The criteria for the selection of texts is ultimately based on the materials conformity with the mission vision of the University, especially that which is embodied in the Credo. In particular, each one in the University is challenged to undertake the arduous but most spiritually rewarding pursuit of wisdom, the synthesis of love of God and knowledge, faith and reason, culture and life. In this context, these classical texts are the founts of wisdom and together with life itself, form the material for synthesis. Therefore, a few selected certain readings which cover the main ideas of the lessons are appended at the back of the manual for easy reference. Some other direct quotations from the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas have been interspersed in the relevant areas. The students are encouraged to do a close reading of the texts. Other possible readings may also be given if the teacher deems them more appropriate or relevant. It is up to the prudential judgment of the teacher to focus on certain ideas in the text. As Aristotle used to say, the purpose of studying Ethics is ultimately to live a good life. But keeping in mind George Santayanas words (Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it) could very well help us know the ideas of the past in order to live better the present and the future.

Part I: Introduction to Ethics

Chapter 1: What is Ethics?
Definition of Ethics
The word ethics is a transliteration from the Greek ethike which means habit or custom and the Latin moralia (from mos; plural mores which also means custom or habit, hence the word moral). By definition, ethics is the philosophical study of voluntary human action, with the purpose of determining what types of activity are good, right and to be done, or bad, wrong and not to be done, so that man may live well.1 It is the philosophical discussion of morality, distinct from that which is undertaken by Theology. Already in this definition we find an essential element in any ethical discussion: the notion of good. As we shall tackle this in some chapters below, suffice it to say for now that ethics as a philosophical study arises from a realization of what good signifies and how human persons have to act in order to attain the good. As Rhonheimer put it: the original intuition (or experience) of the good as the goal of striving, choosing, and doing forms the starting point for the activity of practical reason. And the reflection upon this starting point is the beginning of moral philosophy.2 Philosophy is defined as the study of the ultimate cause and the first and most universal principles of reality. Ethics, (also known as moral philosophy) as a branch of philosophy, is concerned with the ultimate principles and cause of human behavior. Human beings, as Aristotle noted, always act in customary fashion, and for a certain end. In this sense, we can see that ethics has to do with trying to understand what action is proper of human beings in order to achieve an end. It also has to do with discovering the end of the human person. In particular, it strives to answer the following questions: What is the end of human action? What is it that ultimately drives us to act in certain ways? What are we after when we act? How should the person live in order to attain his end? The search for the answer to these questions is the entire subject matter of Ethics. As a branch of philosophy, Ethics is thus concerned with the practical side of knowledge: knowledge for the sake of action. Whereas Philosophical Anthropology presents the speculative side of Philosophy, Ethics tackles the practical side of it.3 Philosophical Anthropology asks the question: What is the human person? Whereas Ethics asks: How should the human person, as person, act? The former furnishes us with the truths about what the person is while the latter tells

1 2

W. Wallace, The Elements of Philosophy, (NY: Alba House, 1977), 149. Martin Rhonheimer, Natural Law and Practical Reason (New York: Fordham University Press, 200), 23. 3 As regards Practical Philosophy, we can loosely distinguish to fields in this regard: Logic, as the practical philosophy geared towards the attainment of the truth; and Ethics, as the practical philosophy geared towards the attainment of good.

6 us how this person should act. While Philosophical Anthropology strives to reach the truth about the human person, Ethics strives to know how the human person may live well.4

Ethics and the particular sciences. Ethics as metaphysics of the end

A science is a systematized body of truths with a proper subject matter and a particular point of view.5 All sciences in general study the causes of things and a science is often defined by the aspect of reality which it studies. For example, Biology studies the world of living beings while Psychology studies the human mind and human behavior in a given context. It could happen that you have several sciences studying the same subject matter but from varying points of view. For example, human behavior is studied in psychology, sociology, economics, and ethics, but all under different aspects and points of view. The main difference between the other sciences and ethics is that whereas the rest study particular aspects of human behavior, ethics studies human behavior as such. It studies human behavior from the metaphysical point of view. We can clarify this further by examining the nature of metaphysics. Metaphysics studies not just any particular being, but being as such: being as being. Whereas all the sciences study some particular being, Metaphysics studies what being signifies. This means that the truths studied in metaphysics are often presupposed in the other sciences. For example, every time a student of Medicine tries to study what keeps the human person healthy and free from disease, this student presupposes that the human person is, that the human person is a being. The notion of being comes before any other notion. Metaphysics is the study of the ultimate cause and of the first and most universal principles of reality.6 It studies the cause of being as such. Ethics studies the end of human action. Whereas other sciences may also study human action under various aspects (for example, the psychological, the sociological, etc), ethics studies the ultimate why and how of human action. Ethics studies the ends for which we act and the way in which to act for us to reach that end. This is why Ethics may be called as the metaphysics of the end and of the moral order and hence it is the metaphysical study of human action. (As we shall see later, the word moral denotes the free and conscious action and therefore responsible action).

The difference between the two is rooted in the difference between speculative reason and practical reason. The human person of course has only one intellect but it can take one two different functions: the speculative and the practical, hence the terms speculative reason and practical reason. Speculative reason, as a function of the intellect, has as its goal the apprehension of truth, or the making visible of intelligible truth contained in sense experience. It strives to know for the sake of knowing. Practical reason is also oriented toward truth but with the purpose of ordering the person toward action. It strives to know the truth (under the aspect of good) for the sake of doing (determining what should be done). See Rhonheimer, 25-26. 5 T. Higgins, Man as Man: The Science and Art of Ethics (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1949), 8. 6 Alvira et al. Metaphysics (English translation, Sinagtala Publishers Inc., 1991), 4.

Why study ethics?

From our definition of ethics, the question above may seem to berate the obvious. However, we obtain a fuller appreciation of ethics when we begin to see the historical and cultural significance of this study and not merely its usefulness for daily living. History shows that the great guiding principles of human conduct are shared by all humanity. In one way or another, ethical principles find expression in every social environment. As a branch of philosophy per se, ethics was started by the Greeks with Aristotle being called as the great systematizer of ethics.7 But even prior to Aristotles systematic treatment in his Nichomachean Ethics, we already find expressions of the concern for living an ethical life in his antecedents. For example, when Socrates faced the men of Athens to defend his life, he uttered the following words: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong - acting the part of a good man or of a bad. From these words (as well as from his more famous the unexamined life is not worth living8) we gather the importance that Socrates placed on living a truly ethical life. For him, a human life is an ethical life; or to live humanly is to live ethically. Human life, therefore, ought to be lived not just in any old way but in an ethical way. Rightness and wrongness, as qualifiers of human action, are precisely attributed only to human actions and never to actions of animals. In other words, they are qualifiers which are attributed to human actions precisely because they are human. Moreover, as we shall later on see, these qualifiers make the doer of the action more or less human.

Important presuppositions in the study of Ethics

According to Immanuel Kant, there are three important presuppositions in Ethics. These are: a) The existence of God; b) immortality of the soul; and c) human freedom. It is worthwhile to consider these three before we proceed further. All these presuppositions have to do with the subject that Ethics sets out to study: the rightness and wrongness of human action. The first presupposition is important because it gives us the proper metaphysical grounding for ethics. By the existence of God we mean that we presuppose an ultimate principle for everything. God, as the principle of everything, is the beginning and end of human life. Even from a non-theological point of view, it makes perfect sense to conceive of an end because this end gives meaning to all our striving. If we do not have any specific end, then it makes no sense to consider setting out on any activity. Furthermore, it will not make sense to consider rightness and wrongness of action without due reference to any standard. Ultimately, we say that the rightness and wrongness of action is judged only with reference to an end. The end is that for which any thing is conceived or begun. The end is also a standard and reference point by which we measure any action done. This end, as we have said, is God. Thus, the existence of God denotes the existence of an objective norm of morality.
7 8

Leonardo Polo, Etica 2.a edicion, (Madrid: AEDOS Union Editorial, 1997), 17. The more complete phrase goes this way: the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living. From Plato, Apology

The second presupposition is connected to the first: the immortality of the soul. When we say something is immortal, it means that it has a beginning and will have no end. An idea closely related to immortality is spirituality. Something which is immortal may be said to be spiritual. The notion spiritual is contrasted with material. Matter has mass and occupies space. It is also temporal in the sense that it has a beginning and an end. Spirit on the other hand does not have the physical dimensions of matter. It may have a beginning but since it does not corrupt, it has no end. We learn in Philosophical Anthropology that the human person is made up of body and soul. Wherefore, while the body of man may one day corrupt and disintegrate and be separated from the soul at death, the latter remains alive since it is spiritual. The soul, since it is spiritual, therefore has no end. It is immortal. If it is immortal, then it makes sense to consider where it will end up after the human person dies. It is good to consider where we would want our souls to end up after life here on earth. And the destiny of our soul depends to a large extent on the way by which we exercised our freedom and chose to live our lives. This brings us to the third presupposition of Ethics: the freedom of the person. Without freedom, there is no sense in talking about the rightness and wrongness of action because such action would not have any moral value. Morality is significant only because human persons are free. Non-rational beings are not moral beings because they are not free. The rational being, on the other hand, is a moral being because he is free.

Ethics and moral uprightness

To wrap up our introduction, a final word has to be devoted to the relation between the study of Ethics and the internal dispositions of the learner. Although ethics is one more branch of philosophy, it is unlike the other sciences in one sense. It is that to benefit greatly from the study of ethics, moral uprightness is necessary. This is not the case with many of the sciences. For example, one can be an excellent mathematics student even if one is a crook. Or one can study physics and excel in it even if one is given to habitual lying. The main reason why moral uprightness is a prerequisite of ethics has to do with the very nature of ethics, as seen in two things: in the fact that it is a practical science, and therefore it is meant to lived more than theorized; and in the fact that it has to do with striving to live a good life.

Chapter 2: Anthropological Bases of Ethics

The need to see the rightness and wrongness of human action has a lot to do with the persons humanity. What does this humanity signify? A deep understanding of this humanity is necessary to understand the basis for all ethical consideration. We can get to know what a human person is by contrasting him/her with non-persons. There is a trend in certain circles to obliterate the difference between persons and non-persons.9 The human person may at times be considered no more than a glorified ape in the way that Freud and later behaviorists would want us to believe. A serious consideration of scientific findings, however, will lead us to conclude that the human person is more than a glorified ape.

The Human Person: As Revealed in Moral Experience

Moral experience gives us a good ground for the understanding of persons. This is an idea reflected carefully upon and expounded by Karol Wojtyla (a.k.a. Pope John Paul II) in his work Acting Person. However, for the purpose of our course, we need only treat an aspect of what he takes up in this extensive work. Experience shows us how to understand the person and morality. The moral experiences of person, and a persons understanding of his own experiences sheds light on his being as a person and on morality as such. 10

The Selfhood of Human Persons

Persona est individual substantia naturae rationalis (person is an individual substance of a rational nature.) This classic definition of Boethius 11 contains the essentials in understanding human dignity. The human person, by virtue of his individuality and rationality, is a being who is his own and does not belong to another. This is succinctly expressed in the classic definition of Roman Law for the person: persona est sui iuris et alteri incommunicabilis. Loosely translated, it means that the person is a being of his own (a law unto himself) and does not share his being with another. Maritain echoes all these ideas in his own definition of person: the person is a reality which, subsisting spiritually, constitutes a universe unto itself, a relatively independent whole within the great whole of the universe, facing the transcendent whole which is God. John Crosby in his work The Selfhood of the Human Person points to ethical experience as a rich field of discovery and understanding of what the human person is. In the following ethical situations below, consider the way persons are treated:

We have in mind, for example, certain present-day philosophers who will attribute rights not only to persons but also to animals when, in a strict sense, only persons are holders of rights by virtue of their rationality. But we are pre-empting our discussion here. 10 See Appendix A: Karol Wojylas View of the Human Person. 11 Boethius (c.480-c.525 AD) Born Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, Roman statesman and philosopher regarded by tradition as a martyr of the Christian faith. His best known work is Consolatio Philosophiae (Consolation of Philosophy).

10 A prostitute sells herself to earn a living; the customer in turn hires her for his own gratification; An innocent person is framed, accused, condemned and consequently punished for a crime in order to appease a greater majority thats seeking to redress a grievance; To breed humans as we do animals, discarding the non-excellent, non-exemplary specimens and ignoring defective, inferior specimen; Slavery;

Based on the ethical situations above, we raise the following questions: 1. Ethically speaking, prostitution is tantamount to a woman throwing away her birthright as person. Therefore, what must the personhood of a woman be? 2. If framing an innocent man violates him as a person, what does this tell us about the being of a person? 3. Isnt there some contradiction in the idea of a defective human person? What is the truth about human persons that is not recognized when they are treated as specimens? 4. What do we understand about persons when we see slavery as radically depersonalizing? The answers to these questions are found in the four formulations of personal selfhood as expressed by Crosby: Persons are ends in themselves and never mere instrumental means. Persons are wholes of their own and never mere parts. Persons are incommunicably their own and never mere specimens Each person belongs to himself and not to any other.

A person stands in himself (exist in some way for his own sake; strongly anchored in himself) that if he exists as a mere instrument for some service outside himself, however noble or greatly beneficial, he is violated as a person. Kant says that a person is an end in himself and not a mere instrumental means. Is the prohibition to use persons as instruments absolute? What about the case when people are said to be used by God as instruments? Aquinas says that persons are subject to Gods divine providence in a special way: we are governed for our own sakes. Crosbys version of this is: God respects our personal selfhood by dealing with us on our own account. God does not treat us as mere instrumental means for serving other beings. A scapegoat is treated as existing merely for the sake of the community. A scapegoats own end as a person is flouted (jeered at) since he is used instrumentally to attain something. Recognizing a person only insofar as she serves my goals and projects is to lose her as a person. A possible justification for a scapegoat is the argument that each person is, in relation to society, only a part that builds up that society. A persons reason for being is to form part of a whole society, just as an organ belongs to an organism. If an organ has to be excised to keep the organism healthy, even if that organ be healthy, then it is done to achieve a good (health). The answer to this justification is the following: A person is not a mere constituent part of the community or of any whole; he exists for his own sake. He is his own center; he is a whole in his own right. While an organ is relativized insofar as it is a part of the totality of the body, a person

11 cannot be relativized since no totality can encompass him. Hence, a person stands in himself in a manner that is absolute and unsurpassable. He can neither be a mere part nor a mere instrumental means. To be incorporated in a community is not a threat personal selfhood; it helps a person flourish. But a persons participation in a community is NOT to be confused with having ones whole reason for being in building up the community. For example, if a person were to be given a part or role to play in the community, he will not be harmed by that partial social role if he does not identify himself with his role and thinks that his whole reason for being is to play that role. A person never exhausts his whole being in playing a partial role, however noble and indispensable it may be. A person who understands that his social role can never provide him with his whole reason for being will also understand that a community is a whole composed of wholes (Jacques Maritain). Thus, he remains intact as a person in performing a social function.

The person is a subject of rights

The basic rights of a person are violated when the person is sold forcibly into slavery or when he is framed or used as a scapegoat. When the rights of a person are violated, the person himself is violated. What are specific rights? They are the fundamental rights of a person as person and not those acquired by contract or conferred by law. An important ground for rights of a human person is a persons belonging to himself. Violation of fundamental rights involves, among other things, disposing what belongs intrinsically to another and this may be likened to a theft of a persons very being. To frame an innocent man is to dispose of a mans life, to interfere in his life. Yet, to frame a person for the sake of common good does not diminish the depersonalization and the violation of the scapegoat as a person. An indirect proof that the rights of a person derive from belonging of a person to himself is the fact that one cannot violate/respect ones own rights but another person can. For example, suicide is an immoral taking of ones life, a disrespect for ones own person. In taking my own life, I violate my dignity and worth as a person. However, I dont violate my personal right because my life belongs to me. A murderer can do that: he can violate my right because my life is not his. Hence, my rights are essentially social. But this does not justify suicide since I cannot act irresponsibly in disposing my own property (my life).

The selfhood and transcendence of persons

The four statements about the person (end not instrumental means; whole not mere part; incommunicable not specimen; owns himself and is not owned by another) point to the selfhood and solitude of the person. Solitude is NOT the experience of solitary life but being set off from everything other than himself. In other words, a person is himself and not another. Hence, a person cannot be a part of some whole, a property of another, a replaceable specimen. The four statements point to the definition of Boethius given earlier in this chapter: persona est substantia individual naturae rationalis (a person is an individual substance of rational nature). A person is a substance independent of any other. This is the essence of selfhood. A definition of person which is even closer to selfhood and solitude is that which is given by Roman law:

12 persona est sui iuris et alteri incommunicabilis (a person is his own being and does not share the being of another). Persona est sui iuris expresses selfhood Persona est alteri incommunicabilis expresses solitude A person has a certain absoluteness or infinity. Each person exists as if he were the only one. Corollary to this is the fact that a person is not relativized by a great number of persons. A person is not subject to laws of numerical quantity. If we consider the nature of a person, then he is subject to quantification; if we consider person as person, then he is non-quantifiable. Since each person is incommunicably his own, he is his own being despite the presence of many others like him. This refers to the absoluteness of a person: a person is not relativized by many other persons. The infinity(or absoluteness) of a person coincides with his incommunicability. In a persons absoluteness, he comes very close to the Supreme Being who is absolutely incommunicable. A person, however, exists as one among many others and so he is not supremely incommunicable. But since a person has a being of his own, he exists as if others did not exist. As far as Ethics is concerned, the significance of the discussion on the transcendence of person is found in the notion of self-transcendence, or a persons self-directedness.

The value of human persons

In the self, a recognition of the concreteness and individuality of the personand hence the selfhood of personsleads to recognition of the infinite value of that person. We are then bound to respect each person. Even more than respect, we can love persons. Every person has dignity but only individual concrete persons are loved (in the proper sense): I am capable of recognizing the dignity of every person whom I meet and of showing him or her respect, but I am capable of recognizing the unique personal lovableness of only very few persons and I am capable of loving only these few. The value of every person also may not be measure in relation to the greatness of a few persons. Persons already have a certain infinite worth in virtue of simply being persons. Moreover, the concreteness and individuality of persons leads us to recognize their unrepeatability.12

Happiness and the End of the Human Person

Happiness is an end. All our striving and all human living is for a purpose. Aristotle rightly concludes that if there is any end that every human being directs himself invariably, that would be happiness. In Aristotles own words: Therefore, if there is an end for all that we do, this will be the good achievable by action, and if there are more than one, these will be the goods achievable by action.Since there is evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, flutes, and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently

For a treatment of this entire topic, refer to the article of Crosby on the topic found in the appendix C.

13 something final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this will be what we are seeking, and if there is more than one, the most final of these will be what we are seeking. Now we call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is more worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else. Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose always for itself and never for the sake of something else, but honor, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself.13 What does happiness consist in? This is the most logical question which follows from the realization that every human person wants to be happy. St. Thomas asks this question as well in his Summa Theologiae. Lest we grapple unsuccessfully for the for the appropriate answer to the question, St. Thomas has endeavored to facilitate our search for happiness by asking the questions and finding of the answers through a systematic examination of possible objects that could be pursued in the hope of finding happiness:14 Does happiness consist in wealth, honor, fame or power? St. Thomas answers: Now four general reasons may be given to prove that happiness consists in none of the foregoing external goods. First, because, since happiness is man's supreme good, it is incompatible with any evil. Now all the foregoing can be found both in good and in evil men. Secondly, because, since it is the nature of happiness to "satisfy of itself," as stated in Ethic. i, 7, having gained happiness, man cannot lack any needful good. But after acquiring any one of the foregoing, man may still lack many goods that are necessary to him; for instance, wisdom, bodily health, and such like. Thirdly, because, since happiness is the perfect good, no evil can accrue to anyone therefrom. This cannot be said of the foregoing: for it is written (Eccles. 5:12) that "riches" are sometimes "kept to the hurt of the owner"; and the same may be said of the other three. Fourthly, because man is ordained to happiness through principles that are in him; since he is ordained thereto naturally. Now the four goods mentioned above are due rather to external causes, and in most cases to fortune; for which reason they are called goods of fortune. Therefore it is evident that happiness nowise consists in the foregoing. 15 Nor can happiness be found in pleasures or any created good because these are not the object of the rational powers of the person. Wherefore, after considering all possibilities, St. Thomas
13 14

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1,1. Summa Theologiae I-II, q2. 15 Ibid, I-II, Q 2, A4.

14 points to the proper object of the human persons happiness: God. It is impossible for any created good to constitute man's happiness. For happiness is the perfect good, which lulls the appetite altogether; else it would not be the last end, if something yet remained to be desired. Now the object of the will, i.e. of man's appetite, is the universal good; just as the object of the intellect is the universal true. Hence it is evident that naught can lull man's will, save the universal good. This is to be found, not in any creature, but in God alone; because every creature has goodness by participation. Wherefore God alone can satisfy the will of man, according to the words of Ps. 102:5: "Who satisfieth thy desire with good things." Therefore God alone constitutes man's happiness.16 Happiness then consists in the possession of the full and final good, which is also the end of the person. This good is the ultimate good who is God.


Ibid, I-II, Q 2, A8.


Part II. Ethics Proper

Chapter 3: The Good
Definition of good/ the good has the character of an end
It is difficult to give an exact definition of the notion of good since no single definition can encompass the totality of its reality. A review of what some philosophers have said throughout history can give us an idea of how elusive an exact definition would be. Plato does not give an exact definition but resorts to an analogy to explain the notion of good. In the Republic, Plato introduces the idea of the form of the good, which for him is the perfect nature of goodness. He likens the form of the good to the sun, which is a source of illumination for everything. By analogy, good as such is what leads us to the truth, and this in turn will allow us to make sense of the world around us. In other words, in the mind of Plato, the ideal form of the good is the key to a deep understanding of the world and how we ought to conduct our lives with justice. For Aristotle, the good is teological, meaning that it is tied to the idea of an end. What is an end? It is that on account of which anything begins to be. It is that which is sought for its own sake and other things are sought for this end. Finally, it is first in intention and last in execution. Wherefore, we find these familiar lines at the beginning of the Nichomachean Ethics: Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. 17 As a commentary to these famous lines, an author states that Aristotle did not mean that there is some one thing to which all things tend but whenever a being desires, it desires only good. Hence, in an a posteriori sense good is whatever satisfies appetence. Thus, light is the good of a plant, water of a fish, happiness of a man.18 Aquinas, following Aristotle closely, succinctly defines the good as that to which every being tends. In Aquinas, specifically, the good implies an end, and evil implies the contrary. All those things to which man has a natural inclination are apprehended naturally by the reason as goods, and consequently we see that we should pursue them by our action, and that we should avoid their contraries as evil. From the metaphysical point of view, being and good are the same (ens et bonum convertuntur). St. Augustine says that everything that is, is good.19 In fact, the goodness of any thing is rooted in its having the act of being or esse. This is what is called the ontological basis of goodness. Things have intrinsic goodness insofar as they have the act of being. Each things

Ethics, I, 1, 1094a. He begins his work with the following: Every art and every investigation, and likewise every practical pursuit or undertaking seems to aim at some good: hence it has been well said that the good is that at which all things aim. 18 Thomas J. Higgins, Man as Man: The Science and Art of Ethics (Milwaukee:The Bruce Publishing Company, 1949). 19 St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk VII, 12.

16 good is to be in accordance with its nature.20 However, good is distinct from being in that it adds the notion of desirability. Goodness expresses the notion that a being is desirable in so far as it is perfect. This idea points to the fact then that a thing is desired not because we desire it, but because of its intrinsic goodness. Goodness is then something objective and not simply dependent on the perceptions or desires of several or majority of persons. Following the metaphysical roots, the good implies two things: a.) A being or faculty that seeks something to perfect it (because this good thing suits it, fits in with it, or bestows a suitable perfection on the faculty or being seeking the good); and b) An object called good because it is capable of satisfying the appetite (This good satisfies some need, some demand, some exigency, some natural aptitude). From this latter idea, we gather that the good, as an object, is anything which is suitable or fitting and hence is desirable. As we said, the good is desirable because it perfects. And it is perfective because it entails the fullness of being. Wherefore, every being seeks a good which can perfect it and conversely, every being avoids what is harmful to its nature. No being consciously strives for what is harmful to its nature.

Kinds of Good/Distinction between real good and apparent good

Based on the definition of the good given above, we can distinguish different kinds of goods. Insofar as a good is perfective, we can classify it as either pleasurable, useful, or honorable. A delectable or pleasurable good is any good regarded merely in the light of the pleasure it produces. A useful good is that which is desired merely as a means to something else. The honorable good (bonum honestum) consists in the due ordering of free action or conduct according to the norm of reason, the highest faculty, to which it is to conform. This is the good which determines the true valuation of all other goods sought by the activities which make up conduct. The useful good (bonum utile) is that which is sought not for its own sake but for the accomplishment of another good. Any lower good acquired to the detriment of the honorable good is really but a loss or is only an apparent good (bonum apparens). While all other kinds of good may, in turn, be viewed as means, the moral good is good as an end and is not a mere means to other goods. The pleasurable, though not in the order of things an independent end in itself, may be deliberately chosen as an end of action, or object of pursuit. Now let us apply these distinctions. Good being the object of any tendency, man has as many kinds of goods as he has appetites, needs, and faculties. The normal exercise of his powers and the acquisition thereby of any good is followed by satisfaction, which, when it reaches a certain degree of intensity, is the feeling of pleasure. He may and sometimes does pursue things not on account of their intrinsic worth, but simply that he may obtain pleasure from them. On the other hand, he may seek a good on account of its intrinsic power to satisfy a need or to contribute to the perfection of his nature in some respect. This may be illustrated in the case of food; for as the old adage has it, "the wise man eats to live, the epicure lives to eat."


Alvira, Metaphysics, (Manila: Sinag-tala Publishers, 1991, English translation), 157.


Categories of Human Goods (as specified by Grisez)

Good s may be further classified, insofar as they are pursued to perfect human persons. Germain Grisez makes the following classification: First Group: Substantive Goods 1. Life Preservation of life: Health Safety Avoidance or removal of pain Procreation, begetting of new life, nurturing of children 2. Speculative Knowledge - Knowledge sought for its own sake, and not just for its usefulness as a means to an end Not necessarily confined to knowledge of scientists or philosophers For example, the knowledge sought by a child that tears a clock apart to see how it works. 3. Aesthetic Experience - Appreciation of beauty - An aesthetic experience is one which a person seeks because the experience itself is valued. 4. Work and Play - Skillful performance by oneself - Work: transforming the natural world by bestowing meaning and value upon it through skilled performance. Second Group: Reflexive Goods (also relational) 5. Integrity - The effort to achieve inner harmony; integration of aspects of oneself; implies a certain wholeness 6. Practical Reasonableness - The harmony between oneself and ones actions 7. Friendship - Harmony between the self and others 8. Religion - Considers the relationship between human beings and the more-than-human ultimate source of meaning and value. This does not necessarily imply that God exists (e.g. Confucianism)


Definition of evil
Antithetical to the notion of good is the notion of evil. Against those who think that evil in itself is a being, St. Augustine debunks the notion that evil is a being in itself. Rather, evil denotes the absence or privation of a due good. In general, evil may be divided into two kinds: physical evil and moral evil. Physical evil is the privation (or what causes privation) of a natural good in a unitary being. Moral evil is the privation (or what causes privation) of goodness in human actions. In relation to the end, moral evil is the privation of moral rectitude which a moral act should have. This means that actions should be ordered to achieve a proper end, especially the end of the person. If an action does not cause the person to reach his/her proper end, then that action is said to be evil. In this sense, we can understand that sin, insofar as it leads a person away from God, who is his/her proper end, then sin is evil. It is impossible for ethics to fully solve and fathom the problem of evil and much less find the persons redemption from it. The ultimate root of evil can be gathered from theological sources (in the doctrine of original sin). As such, the cure is also beyond ethics.

The Good as the Last End

To determine what is good and orderly and what is evil and disorderly in human conduct, we must find a fundamental principle of order. This principle is the end. What is an end? By definition, an end is that on account of which anything begins to be. The end is sought for on its own sake and other things are sought for this end. It is first in intention and last in execution What is the end of the human person? With regard to internal perfection, a persons end is adequate satisfaction of the rational appetite. With regard to the persons objective end, we could consider several possibilities to be the persons end: Could it be finite external goods? Or corporeal beauty and bodily well-being? Pleasure? Knowledge, love or virtue? Or the person himself/herself? Yet, the reality is that that the sole object capable of satisfying our rational appetite is that which is perfect and absolute. This could only be God. Therefore, only God could be the objective last end of the person. The human person possesses God by an act of perfect knowledge and love. The possession of God is called beatitude which is characterized by the absence of every evil, the presence of all good, and the certitude that it will last. Happiness in the possession of God is actually realizable, although perfect happiness is impossible in this life.


Chapter 4: Common good

Here, we devote an entire chapter to the discussion of the notion of common good, although it is linked to the notion of good for the reason that several ideas are also linked to its discussion. We start off with a discussion of its definition, then proceed to examine the obstacles to its fulfillment and then finally to a brief discussion of the key principles involved in the dynamics of the common good.

What is common good?

Everywhere, it seems, social commentators are claiming that our most fundamental social problems grow out of a widespread lack of commitment to the common good, coupled with an equally widespread pursuit of individual interests. What exactly is "the common good," and why has it come to have such a critical place in current discussions of problems in our society? The common good is a notion that originated over 2,000 years ago in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle emphasized the priority of society over man. The state was thought to be a creature of nature and prior to the individual because the individual could not be self-sufficient in isolation. Plato wrote of the common good as the virtue or justice, and its embodiment as the common good. In Platos Ideal State, justice is present when each person is able to perform his best in the job for which he is best suited. The emphasis on the priority of society over man, however, restricted individual choice of job. The choice of job for each person was the task of the guardians of society. Only the guardians had knowledge of goodness and justice and thus could always act for the good of the community. The guardians then developed laws to direct the common good for the greatest happiness of the whole. Because insight and choice were denied to all but a few select few for the end product of the common good, Michael Novak says man was a means for the common good. 21 Aristotle turned to the best form of government for the common good, but the same hierarchical understanding of humans affected his view of a governmental structure organized for justice. Not all humans could enjoy justice. H. Rackham writes that, for Aristotle, justice could only exist between men who are free and who enjoy either absolute or proportional equality;22 hence, injustice towards things that belong to children and slaves did not exist. Aristotle also assigned justice a different status. While Plato believed justice was inseparable from temperance, courage, and wisdom, Aristotle believed justice was the highest virtue because it always involved the other (meaning another person) in its practice. In Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle says that justice is complete virtue because a person who
21 22

Michael Novak, Free Persons and the Common Good (Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 1989), 26-28. H. Rackham, Aristotles Ethics for English Readers Rendered from the Greek of the Nicomachean Ethics, trans. H. Rackham (New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1943), 96-97.

20 possesses it can exercise the virtue not only in himself but towards the neighbor also and this is a difficult task. All things were believed to aim at the good, but the good of the community was of utmost importance. Aristotle says that in every state (polis) is a community (koinonia) of some kind, and every community is established for some good since persons always act in order to obtain what they think is good. The highest form of community, to Aristotle, was the political community formed in justice and friendship for the common advantage of all. This common good implied a sort of equality. Thus, citizens of lower social status were not excluded from governing roles. If persons were well suited for governing, whether rich or poor, they should govern the just political community. In Politics Aristotle claims that if both werent represented, government would not be just with laws fostering the common good. Aristotle, as did Plato, saw common good as an end it itself. The common good was happiness, which could not be found from an individual perspective, only from a life shared with others. Community fostered the highest good, and justice could only be assured through civil community to communicate the convenient from what is not. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the highest form of community was not the political community, but the covenant that God entered with his people. Michael Novak saw this covenant as significant in understanding mans nature. The notion of One God and the human consent to the Covenant led to the emphasis of the human will. This in turn led Western culture to reflect upon the sacredness of the human person, known to God and loved by Him before history began.23 Belief in the sacredness of the person, placed a high value on the common good of its members with a distribution of goods determined by need. We read that the early Christians held everything they owned in common. Thus, common good was clearly important to the early Christians and recognition of its importance came not from the guardians or governing bodies but from the individuals themselves. The persons desires, interests, and aptitudes now had a priority over society, and persons willfully chose to use them for the benefit of society an interesting phenomenon. From the Christians belief that Jesus was both God and man, Novak says theologians then began to understand person differently from individual. An individual is merely a member of a species. A person designates an individual with a capacity for insight (thinking) and choice (freedom). This means a person is responsible for understanding and directing its own activities, independently of any other. James Collins states that each age has its own characteristic philosophy of organizing into communities. The ancient Greeks priority of society became unacceptable to the Jewish people, when, in their tradition, God entered into a covenant with man. The individual with a human will was seen as sacred and loved by God.


Michael Novak, Free Persons and the Common Good, 26.

21 The understanding of humanness later expanded from individual will to person made in Gods image, and thus able to direct his own activities. The early Christians, without even guardians or legislation to direct activity toward the common good willfully lived lives for the common good of all. Aquinas, an admirer of Aristotle, combined classical notions of the common good with the Judeo-Christian concept of person created in Gods image (capable of insight and choice). This characteristic of God, now understood to be in man, meant that man could never be a means to the end of a common good. Instead government must exist, or be the means, to allow people to reach their end which is union with God. Man must always have the right to exercise insight and choice in the common good. More recently, the contemporary ethicist, John Rawls, defined the common good as "certain general conditions that are . . . equally to everyone's advantage." The 2nd Vatican Council defines it as "the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment." The common good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all depend work in a manner that benefits all people. Examples of particular common goods or parts of the common good include an accessible and affordable public health care system, an effective system of public safety and security, peace among the nations of the world, a just legal and political system, an unpolluted natural environment, a flourishing economic system. Because such systems, institutions, and environments have such a powerful impact on the well-being of members of, society, it is no surprise that virtually every social problem in one way or another is linked to how well these systems and institutions are functioning. As these examples suggest, the common good does not just happen. Establishing and maintaining the common good requires the cooperative efforts of many people. Just as keeping a park free of litter depends on each user picking up after himself, so also maintaining the social conditions from which we all benefit requires the cooperative efforts of citizens. But these efforts pay off, for the common good is a good to which all members of society have access, and from whose enjoyment no one can be easily excluded. For example, all persons enjoy the benefits of clean air or an unpolluted environment. In fact, something counts as a common good only to the extent that it is a good to which all have access.


Obstacles to the common good

There are obstacles that hinder us, as a society, from successfully cooperating to maintain the common good. First, according to some philosophers, the very idea of a common good is inconsistent with pluralism in society. Different people have different ideas about what is worthwhile or what constitutes "the good life for human beings. Even if we agree upon what we all value, we would certainly disagree about the relative values things have for us. Some will say that more should be invested in health than in education, while others will favor directing resources to the environment over both health and education. In the face of such pluralism, efforts to bring about the common good can only lead to adopting or promoting the views of some, while excluding others, violating the principle of treating people equally. Moreover, such efforts would force everyone to support some specific notion of the common good, violating the freedom of those who do not share in that goal, and inevitably leading to paternalism (imposing one group's preference on others), tyranny, and oppression. A second problem encountered by proponents of the common good is what is sometimes called the "free rider problem." The benefits that a common good provides are, as we noted, available to everyone, including those who choose not to do their part to maintain the common good. Individuals can become "free riders" by taking the benefits the common good provides while refusing to do their part to support the common good. An adequate water supply, for example, is a common good from which all people benefit. But to maintain an adequate supply of water during a drought, people must sacrifice and conserve water. Some may be reluctant to do their share since they know that so long as some other people conserve, they can enjoy the benefits without reducing their own consumption. If enough people become free riders in this way, the common good will be destroyed. Many observers believe that this is exactly what has happened to many of our common goods, such as the environment or education, where the reluctance of all persons to support these systems has led to their virtual collapse. The third problem encountered by attempts to promote the common good is individualism. Our historical traditions place a high value on individual freedom, on personal rights, and on allowing each person to "do her own thing." Our culture views society as comprised of separate independent individuals who are free to pursue their own individual goals and interests without interference from others. In this individualistic culture it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to convince people that they should sacrifice some of their freedom, some of their personal goals, and some of their self-interest, for the sake of the "common good." Our cultural traditions, in fact, reinforce the individual who thinks that she should not have to contribute to the community's common good, but should be left free to pursue her own personal ends. All of these problems pose considerable obstacles. Still, appeals to the common good ought not to be dismissed. For they urge us to reflect on broad questions concerning the kind of society we want to become. They also challenge us to view ourselves as members of the same community and, while respecting and valuing the freedom of individuals to pursue their own goals, to recognize those goals we share in common.


The principles of solidarity and subsidiarity

There are two principles which can address these problems of common good: the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity. The principle of solidarity holds that all persons are fundamentally equal and have to be bonded in a common fellowship to obtain the common good. This is the answer to individualism. The principle of subsidiarity or also known as the principle of supplementary assistance holds that what can be done by a smaller body should not be done by the larger one. This is to protect the legitimate sphere of action of individuals within society so that it will not be usurped by state action (as often illustrated in a socialist society, for example). The principle of solidarity stresses the fundamental equality of all human persons and the brotherhood shared by the entire humanity. Aristotle noted that man is naturally a social animal24 and so this implies that human person need each other in order to accomplish the common good. This is why Aristotle also notes that friendship is essential in human society. The virtue which governs the relations of human persons is justice and so by virtue of justice and equity, the principle of solidarity binds us a) to one another by the unavoidable ties of commutative justice; b) to obey the just laws of the state by legal justice; c) to serve the common good, if we are public officials, by commutative justice; and d) to promote the common good in our private capacity by social justice.25 This shall be discussed again in the chapter on the cardinal virtues. On the other hand, the principle of subsidiarity is the principle of supplementary assistance. This means that there should be a healthy respect for smaller units which exist within society and the legitimate rights of the individual as well as small bodies should be respected. This principle also recognizes the need for privacy and freedom of individuals within society. Therefore, over-organization and regimentation, both on the family and societal level would go against this principle.26 For example, if the state were to dictate family size, it would go against this principle. Every family has the right and duty to decide their own existence, including the number of members which should constitute the family. In sum, common good is to be understood "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily." The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements. First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as "the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion."

24 25

Politics, I, 2. De Torre, Roots of Society, 2nd edition (Manila: Sinag-tala Publishers, Inc., 1984), 20. 26 Ibid., 21.

24 Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on. Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense. Each human community possesses a common good that permits it to be recognized as such. It is in the political community that the most complete realization is found. It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies. The common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons: "The order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around." This order is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love.


Chapter 5: The Natural Law


The concept of ought and what it signifies

We have said at the start that the study of ethics arises from the desire to know how the human person should behave in order to be happy. Wherefore, the question of the ought is an important part of ethics. Questions like: How should I behave? or What should I do? ; or How should I live my life? are necessarily asked in ethics because these questions point to the manner by which a person strives to order his/her life in order to be happy. In turn, the answers to these questions have to do with the object all human striving: the good. What does the ought signify? A foundational notion behind ought is the notion of personal autonomy and freedom. Unless one has dominion over ones actions and the ability to determine oneself through ones actions, we cannot even begin to discuss the notion of ought. To put this in context, let us take an example. In order to finish a five-year course in the University successfully, every sensible student would ask: what must I do to graduate? (this or some similar question). Now before even such a question could be asked, we already presuppose the fact that the person has decided on his/her own to go through the university. Then, over and above the presupposition of freedom and personal autonomy, the ought signifies what is proper and fitting to do in order to accomplish something. In the realm of moral philosophy, the ought signifies that there are things, within our power to do or not to do, which (whatever we desire) we have to do, not because we are forced to do, but because it would be good to do. Found in the ought is that something which we must do, otherwise, it would be unreasonable not to do. Thus, the ought may be understood as a certain claim of the good.28 In the accomplishment of the ought, one does not relinquish ones personal freedom and autonomy. On the contrary, the accomplishment of the ought signifies the exercise of ones freedom and personal autonomy because it presupposes not only a personal insight and understanding of the good to be done but it also points to the effective willing and choice of the good. Thus, when a person decides to do what ought to be done, the person is exercising to the utmost his/her personal freedom.29 Here we are broaching on the subject of the autonomy of the person as a moral subject. We are considering here the balance between the persons desire for self-determination and the apparent demand of his conscience to follow certain normative demands on human behavior. The human persons moral experience leads him/her to discover that there are indeed obligatory norms (what ought to be done) which must be followed because they constitute a moral truth: It is good, therefore I must do it. And yet, the person remains free to follow or not. And when the

This topic is drawn from Martin Rhonheimer, Natural Law and Practical Reason , translated from the German by Gerald Malsbary(New York: Fordham University Press, 2000). 28 Rhonheimer, 198. 29 Notice how St. Thomas puts it: He is free who is a cause of himself: the slave is subject to the disposing power of his master; but he who acts on his won, act freely; on the other hand, he who acts being moved by another does not act freely. The person who avoids evil not because it is evil but because God has commanded it, is not free, but he who avoids evil because it is evil, is free. (Ad II Cor., c. III, lect. 3, n. 112), as quoted by Rhonheimer, 214-215.

26 person decides to follow that norm, he/she is exercising his freedom in an act of selfdetermination. Closely linked to the notion of the ought is the notion of law. In any human society, manmade laws are prescriptions of what ought to be done at a given time and under certain given circumstances. In the realm of morals, there is a set of laws that tell us what is right or what is wrong. This code is called the Natural Law. This law holds true for every single human person and is written in the heart of every human person. Regardless of whether it is recognized by a given society, it is an authentic law that governs the moral conduct of human persons of every age and circumstance.

What is natural law?

In Question 91 of the Summa, Thomas defines the Natural law as a participation of the rational creature in the eternal law. Before we go into the specific meaning of this statement, we need to clarify two basic terms: the meaning of natural and the meaning of law. Lets start with the meaning of law. In the Summa, Thomas Aquinas characterizes law as: a certain rule and measure of acts, according to which someone is induced to do something, or is restrained from doing something; for law [lex] gets its name from binding [ligando] because it binds to doing.30 Rhonheimer comments that whats implied here is the fact that reason assumes the function of ruling and measuring human actions insofar as it directs actions to a certain end. An act of reason corresponds to law, and reason itself has a law-giving function. In this way, Thomas is able to reduce the concept of law to a concept of ordering of reason (ordination rationis).31 When we say that reason measures human action, this means that it is reason which judges whether specific human actions are right or wrong. This means that the law is natural, not because it is based on nature, understood as the way things are (often encapsulated in the term human nature) but because this law is founded on practical reason.32 Thomas states: The natural law is something constituted by reason, just as the proposition is a work of reason.33 And this passage is further explained in the following: the natural law, like every law, is neither a habit, nor a power, nor any mere act of reason, but rather something that is constituted through the practical reason, namely, a precept of the practical reasonin fact, a universal precept.34

30 31

Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.90, a1. Rhonheimer, 62. 32 The large portion of the book of Rhonheimer is in fact dedicated to debunking what he calls a physicalistic view of the order of nature or essentialist interpretation of Natural Law, as often found in several Thomists. More than an effort to debunk, however, Rhonheimer ventures into an exhaustive explanation of the notion of moral autonomy as an offshoot of a proper and precise understanding of Aquinas notion of Natural Law. For a complete treatment, see his work: Natural Law and Practical Reason: A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000). 33 Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.94, a.1. 34 Rhonheimer, 63.


Why this law is natural.

First, it is natural because it is a judgment of reason. To reason and to judge is natural to the intellect. We cannot stop the reason from not judging, or not reasoning. Similarly, we cannot command our eyes to not see. It is natural for you to see. The intelligence naturally makes judgments that are ethical in nature. For example, how does a child learn? The mommy says dont do that, it is bad. She teaches something that is quite natural for the child to understand. Teaching a child whats right or wrong is natural and easier than teaching him French or skating. Second, natural law does not come from culture, from ideology, from politics, or from books. Culture cannot establish the moral oughtness of something. What ought to be (what should be done) obliges regardless of culture. Thus, we dont use can, could, would, we use should. At best, culture can influence our behavior only in so far we perceive certain actions to be acceptable or not acceptable. We can say, for example, that in Muslim culture to have many wives is acceptable. But the Muslim culture does not have the power to say you ought to have many wives. You can choose not to have many wives. Maybe it is not acceptable in Muslim culture, but it is not an ought. On the other hand, to kill an innocent person is understood as an act that ought not be done. Innocent human life, as such, is universally considered of great value and therefore depriving anyone of it would be a great act of injustice. Hence, preserving innocent human life is an ought.

Natural law as a participation in the Eternal law

In Question 91 of the Summa, Thomas defines the Natural law as a participation of the rational creature in the eternal law. This definition is pregnant with meaning. It requires a clarification of what Thomas means with eternal law. Law, in general, may be defined as an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.35 Assuming that God is the Creator of everything and therefore has everything under his providence, then we can say that the plan of God for everything, inasmuch as it is a work of his reason, may therefore be considered a law. Since Gods plan or law for all things is a work of his divine mind, then it could be said that this plan is also eternal. Wherefore, the plan that God has for everything is called the eternal law. Now how does the rational creature participlate in the eternal law? I copy out here the exact text from the Summa since Thomas can explain it better in his own words: Law, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure. Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above (Article [1]); it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends. Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of

Summa Theologiae, I-II, q 90, a 4.

28 providence, by being provident both for itself and for others. Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law. Hence the Psalmist after saying (Ps. 4:6): "Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: "Many say, Who showeth us good things?" in answer to which question he says: "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us": thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature's participation of the eternal law.36 In the passage above, we see the difference by which God subjects all creatures to his rule. Non-rational beings are subject to the rule of God through their own natures and inclinations. Hence Thomas says that from their own natures, which are entirely created by God, non-rational creatures derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends. For example, the manner of being of a dog is Gods plan for the dog. Within that plan, a dog can only act as a dog, that is, in a non-rational fashion. Now the rational creature is far above all the rest inasmuch as God has fashioned it in such a way that its nature is to share in the providence of God by being provident for itself and for others. This means that the rational creatures nature is not necessitated. Its very nature is to be free and to be self-provident and self-determining. In a way, the natural law, which is a work of reason, is an imprint of the eternal law and hence the rational creature participates in the eternal law. Rhonheimer clarifies that the order established through the eternal law and constituted for the sphere of human behavior through the natural law is not at all a natural order, but rather an order of reason (ordo rationis) that exists from eternity in God, and which is then constituted, through the use of human reason, in acts of the will and in particular actions.37

Our natural inclinations as the source of natural law

In the passage cited above from the Summa, Thomas says: it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends. From this statement, we can see that our natural inclinations (to preserve life, for example) are part of the plan of God for all
36 37

Ibid., I-II, q 91, a 2 Rhonheimer, 66. He further explains that the Stoics conceived of the natural law as an order that reason must discover in order to live in accordance with it and hence their maxim of living in accordance with nature (secundum naturam vivere). But a more accurate reading of Thomas Aquinas yields the notion that the order of the natural law is actually a work of reason (aliquid per rationem consttitutum) and thereby is formally an order of reason. It is not a natural order. Rhonheimer veers from this kind of reading of natural law because of the logical offshoots of the Stoic understanding of natural law, one which ends up with a kind of rational participation in the necessity of the order of being. For this reason, Rhonheimer maintains that the doctrine of natural law is fundamentally not a doctrine about a law (standing over man), but rather a doctrine about mans practical reason and its principles. (Rhonheimer, 579).

29 beings. In the human persons, however, the natural inclinations as such, are placed under the governance of the higher powers, such as reason and will. Thus, when Thomas says that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light he implies that the natural light of reason acts as a rule and measure. In another portion of the Summa, Thomas writes: all those things to which man has a natural inclination, are naturally apprehended by reason as being good, and consequently as objects of pursuit, and their contraries as evil, and objects of avoidance. Wherefore according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order of the precepts of the natural law.38 In relation to natural inclinations then, reason would be the principle of order. In other words, it is the function of reason to rule and measure the human persons actions which follow the natural inclinations. Whereas non-rational creatures follow their inclinations through instinct, the human persons behavior should be governed by reason, which follows the natural inclinations. In this way, the natural inclinations are the source of natural law when they are directed by reason to lead the person to his/her proper act and end We shall see concrete examples below to further explain this. The important idea to understand at this point is that the human persons natural inclinations, while in themselves do not have the character of law, form the basis upon which the natural law is constituted insofar as these inclinations are the sources of human actions which are governed and directed by reason.39 The goals of our natural inclinations are natural objects of the natural reason.40 Reason does not lord it over the inclinations but rather, the natural inclinations are general rules or measures for everything that man must do and of these things [that is, actions], the natural reason is the measure. This means that the natural inclinations form the basis of the standard; they still do not have the power to govern actions. They are, rather, a standard and rule for natural reason, which in turn is the rule and standard for actions through its causing of order (ordination) in the natural inclinations. 41 At this point, we may allow Thomas Aquinas to present the relation between our natural inclinations and moral obligation in his own words: Since the good implies an end, and evil implies the contrary, all those things to which man has a natural inclination are apprehended naturally by the reason as goods, and consequently we see that we should pursue them by our action, and that we should avoid their contraries as evil. The order of precepts of the natural law follows the order of the natural inclinations. First, within man there is the inclination to the good according to nature in which he shares with all substances, that is, just as every substance desires to preserve and maintain its existence according to its nature. According to this inclination, those things that preserve man's life belong to the natural law, and the natural law prohibits the opposite things. Second, within man there is an inclination to some more specific things according to the nature he shares with the other animals. In this respect, philosophers say that the things that nature teaches to all animals belong to the natural law, such as the union of male and female, the upbringing of children, and so forth.
38 39

Summa Theologiae, I-II, 94, 2. Rhonheimer, 70. 40 Rhonheimer, 74. 41 Ibid.

30 In the third way, within man there is an inclination to the good according to the nature of reason, which is proper to man alone, as man has a natural inclination to seek the truth about God, and to live in society. According to this, those things that concern this type of inclination belong to the natural law, for example, that man avoids ignorance, that he does not give offense to those with whom he associates, and other things of this sort that pertain to his rational nature. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 94, a. 2

Basic natural inclinations whose natural rules constitute the natural law
From the text above, we can specify the basic natural inclinations of the human person and examine how they constitute the natural law: 1. The inclination or tendency towards the conservation of the human being: physical life, moral life, integrity This is the natural inclination: tendency towards conserving ourselves, physically and morally. Another inclination is integrity: the desire to keep our parts together, not just bodily parts, but our interiority, our affections, our will, our reason. We want to be whole; we have a natural tendency to be whole. And when something threatens this wholeness, we try to remedy it. Say, when we get sick, it is natural to want to be well. From these natural inclinations, reason commands the following: It is wrong to kill, mutilate, torture, and commit suicide. It would be wrong to abuse drugs inasmuch as it threatens physical as well as mental and psychological integrity. All these are part of natural law. 1. The inclination towards the conjugal union of man & woman thereby forming the primary community of the human species which is ordained towards the generation and education of their offspring There is a natural tendency for a man to be attracted to a woman and as a result form the union of man and woman called marriage. From that marriage, there is an inclination to establish a family, a community of human beings, and from that family, there is a natural inclination, not only to procreate, but to educate. Based on this inclination, practical reason commands the following which constitute the natural law: we must not commit adultery, we must not have homosexual relations, we must not allow prostitution as this debases the conjugal union between man and woman. 2. The inclination towards a relation with God as a sign of mans nature as a creature We have the inclination to relate a supreme Being: Somebody who is not us. Somebody who is more perfect than us. We have a natural inclination to be attracted and to recognize someone more perfect than us whom we usually call God. Recognition of this inclination leads reason to command the following: We are obliged to seek the true God, the true religion, and after having found the true God, the true religion, to respect God, to respect his laws, to practice religion.


3. The tendency towards work (expression of mans dominion and transformation of the world) and the tendency towards rest & leisurely activities There is a natural tendency to work as a way of expressing that we have dominion over something, usually material nature. Then we transform them. This tells us that to be lazy is not natural to the person. 42 We also have a natural tendency to rest after work. Because we have worked, we have expressed ourselves and have manifested our creativity, we then look for a break. In relation to these inclinations, reason can command a host of actions: We should not steal (get from others work); we should not destroy others property (what belongs to them as a result of their work); we must not be idle. 4. The inclination towards knowledge and towards the different forms of art & culture We are inclined to know more and better, as well as to express this knowledge in different forms: through art, science, technology Reason commands the following: to foster human culture and science through education. Negatively said: to not promote anything that will be contrary to authentic human progress and human culture, for example, the production of pornographic materials, contraband material, etc. 5. The tendency towards communication (also an expression of human sociability) We have the inclinations to express ourselves to others Reason then bids us: not to tell a lie which will disrupt communication; not to calumniate, not to make false statements; not to destroy others reputation; to seek the truth, to communicate it, not to disseminate errors, falsehoods, or wrong data. 6. The inclination towards forming political societies and other types of associations (sign of mans social nature) There is an inclination to form not only political societies, but also to associate freely with others in all sort of endeavors to achieve a common goal. Furthermore, we structure our societies and associations so that we live in harmony, in peace. Reason then bids us to do the following: We should respect the social groups, allow them to do whatever they want (enterprise) for the common good.

The precepts of natural law

From the above discussion, we glean the idea that natural law is essentially the body of most general principles that practical reason recognizes and cannot deny. These principles are known almost in an intuitive manner. However, our knowledge of the particular precepts given in natural law may vary according to degrees. There are those precepts which are known almost

Rather, the laziness inherent in the human condition is a consequence of a wounded nature, as Christian Theology will explain.

32 immediately and hence they are called primary precepts. Under this heading we would put the command of reason to do good and avoid evil. There are other precepts which are arrived at as secondary conclusions of natural reason but are no less important. In fact, they are more significant because they are more particular and closer to the object of action. Under this category we would put the precepts of the Decalogue which encapsulate the precepts of natural law. Then, there are more remote conclusions drawn from the primary and secondary precepts of the natural law. These remote precepts may be difficult to arrive at, depending on the sensitiveness of conscience and according to Thomas are recognizable only to the wise and morally upright. An example of the latter would be to arrive at the conclusion that workers ought to be given just wage as a demand of natural justice.

The natural law and human positive law

From all our discussion so far about the natural law, we may already conclude that right and wrong in moral behavior is not something arbitrary but finds objective basis in the natural law. The natural law is the moral law of human behavior. Yet, historical and societal experience seems to contradict theory. Human experience shows that people do not always agree on what is right or wrong. Across cultures as well, we find that the notion of what is moral or immoral varies to a certain extent. More particularly, we find the arbitrariness in the difference in formulations of human positive laws. Positive Law is law in the more familiar sense of laws promulgated by those in authority in human government. For example, we find that in certain societies, abortion is allowed and sanctioned by the law. Does this not contradict what we said about the natural tendency to preserve life and hence the dictate of reason to not kill? Here we find the dichotomy between the demands of natural law and the promulgation of actual human laws that govern society. What should be the relation between natural law and human positive laws? Does not one obviate the need for the other? The existence of the objective moral order that we call the natural law does not remove the need for human positive law. Positive law is necessary to clearly declare the natural law and provide specific sanctions (as in declarative laws); positive laws also determine things as means to achieve the ends of natural law (as in determinative laws). Examples of declarative laws are the legal prohibitions against rape, robbery and murder, with the attached penalties. Examples of determinative law include speed limits, traffic regulations, and tax regulations. There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about stopping for red lights, but when it is a law, it becomes necessary for public order, and then we have a moral obligation to do what the law commands. In effect, human positive laws should clearly reflect the objective moral order of the natural order and should therefore be derived from the natural law. To the extent that human positive laws veer away from natural law, then that human law is not a law but an injustice and therefore has not the power of a law. Wherefore Thomas says that every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature. But if in any point it deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law.43 This would apply, for example, to laws which allow abortion.

Summa Theologiae, I-II, 95, 2.


Summary of ideas on natural law

Our discussion on natural law brings us to some conclusions. One is that the natural law serves as a standard for judging the rightness and wrongness of human action. It is primarily a participation in the eternal law and this indicates that natural law is ultimately not a human invention but a plan implanted by the Divine creator for the ordering of human activity. The rational creature shows this law by their inclination to their own end and activity. As a law, it is not a restriction but rather a help to the exercise of freedom. Since practical reason is the rule and measure which directs the persons natural inclinations, natural law is metaphorically said to be engraved in the heart of the human person. This means that natural law is known by the natural light of reason, which shows the person the difference between good and evil. The starting point of natural law is the first principle of practical reason: to do good and avoid evil. Finally, since all human persons share the same human nature, and in particular every human person is endowed with practical reason, then natural law is universal and unchangeable . We may, however, advance or retrogress in the knowledge of some of its precepts, especially the remote ones, through a change of circumstances, differences in culture and moral upbringing, or differences in moral intention.


Chapter 6: Conscience and Synderesis

In the previous chapter we have seen how the natural law is the universal and immutable standard for moral behavior of human persons. We will now consider how the natural law is applied to concrete moral action. Since the natural law is made up of general and universal principles, it needs to be applied and specified in concrete cases through the persons use of the rational powers because in themselves, general principles do not regulate human action. In this section, we will examine the use of the persons conscience as a specific dynamism where the natural law is brought to bear on concrete human action.

What conscience is not and what conscience is

Before defining what conscience is, it will be useful to see what it is not. Higgins outlines for us what conscience is not in the following44. Conscience is not: 1. Consciousness, or intellectual awareness of our own internal acts. This refers to an awareness of the self as an I , an awareness of ones own inner world. 2. Intellect, or the light of reason. Both intellect and conscience are intimately linked but there is a fine distinction between the two of them. They cannot and should not be confused. The intellect is the potency or the faculty for knowing; while conscience is a judgment made by the intellect, therefore it is an act. Conscience then is a specific exercise of the intellect. 3. Synderesis, which is the habitual knowledge of moral principles. This latter is a habit while conscience is an act. More will be said of this later. 4. Prudence, which is the virtue that dictates what action ought to be done or avoided. This is a habit of the intellect which regulates its concrete action in the here and now. 45 So what is conscience? Thomas defines conscience as a kind of dictate of reason or an application of knowledge to action for a purpose. More specifically, conscience is a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of an individual human act based on the moral law. Earlier, we differentiated conscience from intellect in the sense that conscience is an act. In particular, conscience is an act of practical reason where it applies the universal knowledge of natural law to the concrete action being considered. By analogy, we could compare the work of conscience to the tasks that a judge or a medical doctor would do:

44 45

Higgins, 125. Rhonheimer distinguishes clearly the difference between conscience, as a moral judgment from what he calls actual judgment of action or choosing judgment where the intellect decides on any concrete action at a given moment. Both the judgment of conscience and the actual judgment of action are acts of the intellect. The distinction between the two is that the latter tells what to do or not to do, while the former tells whether what one will do (or has done) will be (or was) right or wrong to do. Prudence is the virtuous fulfillment in the choosing judgment. (See Rhonheimer, 576).


Standard for judging Act of Judgment Matter being judged

Moral Law Verdict of conscience Human act

Human positive law Verdict of judge Legal case

Principles Medicine Doctor Patient


At this point, we emphasize that it is important to differentiate conscience as an act of practical reason from the other acts of practical reason, like the decision to do this or that particular action. It is not that we have a different faculty for deciding what to do (or what is called the iudicium electionis) and another for judging whether what we did was right or wrong (or what is simply called conscience). Rather, the same powerpractical reasonis used for both. Practical reason, exercised as iudicium electionis functions in deciding to act here and now, in this particular instance, based on the principles of natural law. Now, when the action done departs from how a person ought to act, based on natural law, then practical reason makes a reflective judgment of this deviation from natural law, and at the same time intervenes (hence, a person sometime is said to have a guilty conscience) in the process of the practical reason as a higher voice by warning or prohibiting. This voice is what we call conscience.46 Conscience then functions like a reflective monitor of choosing and doing. Conscience applies in the mode of reflection, or moral knowing (general norms), to an action to be done, to an action in the process of being done, or to an action already done, or to suggestions of the practical reason concerning all these, with the purpose of approving or prohibiting, urging or restraining. The conscience judges the particular from the point of view of the universal, and it comes to the fore with all its weight when it prohibits the doing of what practical reason judges, in its direction of actions, to be a plausible path, a possible way of acting, or a demand of the moment. The prudent man, in the ideal sense, would really need no conscience, since his conscience would never have to present itself (in its urgings, warnings or prohibitions) as something divergent from the judgment of prudence.47 The statement above brings home an important consideration: when there is a dichotomy between what one ought to do (the demand of conscience) and what one actually does (decision arrived at by practical reason), we find the psychological experience of guilt. This is clearly exemplified by Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment in the character of Raskolnikov. We also find here the explanation for the popular wisdom which says that a clear conscience is the best pillow to sleep with.

Conscience and prudence

We can further draw some considerations from what we have so have tackled about conscience. As far as the tasks that practical reason undertakes are concerned, it becomes clear to us that there is a need to educate people in the truth. If practical reason has to make judgments
46 47

Rhonheimer, 579. Rhonheimer, 577.

36 about its own acts, then it ought to be educated properly so that it makes the correct judgments. This brings us to the need for moral formation for all human persons. Obviously, the human person has to first arrive at the correct conclusions about human personhood and how a human person ought to be, before he/she can decide to act accordingly. This is why education is important, not only as systematically delivered in an ethics class at the university, but more importantly, moral education has to start for each person from the time that the person acquires the use of reason. (The truth of this statement can be gleaned from an understanding of the important role of practical reason in making moral judgments.) This points to the role of parents as the first educators of children in the formation of conscience. When a child is habituated to think correctly about what is right or wrong, the virtue of prudence is formed. More of this will be discussed under the chapter of virtue. Here however, it is sufficient to say that the right moral education helps to form the conscience not only by providing the right principles with which to judge action but also by conducing the person to the moral virtue of prudence, that is, teaching the person to choose rightly, to foster the habit of right choosing and consequently, that of right acting.

Is conscience always right?

From the above discussion, we can already say that conscience is the subjective rule of morality in the sense that it is the immediate source for the person of judgment on whether ones actions are right or wrong. The person then has a certain moral autonomy, inasmuch as the judgment of rightness and wrongness is elicited from the very person who has done the action. However, conscience is not autonomous in the sense that it makes its own laws. We recall that natural law is a participation of the rational creature in the eternal law. Therefore, inasmuch as the natural inclinations are part of the design of God, and reason is guided by these inclinations, then the person cannot re-invent another law within himself. The person has to abide by the very being given to him as a creature. In this sense, conscience cannot invent the natural law but has to abide by it. It is possible, though, that conscience can make the wrong judgments about the morality of actions. This happens when practical reason is influenced by a bad will. In the dynamics of human action, we know that the person directs the self through the intellect and will. Inasmuch as the intellect is the faculty for recognizing the truth, and present the true good to the will, the latter can veer away from this (and elect, for example, a lesser, more pleasurable good). Here we have an example of how an evil will can corrupt the judgment of conscience. In ordinary language, we say that a person who justifies a bad action does so by rationalizing, that is, attempting to give the self reasons which are really not true but mere justifications. If the person persists habitually in this kind of deception, then the conscience can be corrupted. This situation is illustrated clearly and convincingly by Budziszewski in the article Revenge of Conscience included in the appendix of this manual.


Do good and avoid evil

In the act of judging the morality of an action, the intellect is guided by a habit called synderesis or the habit of the first principles of human action, an ordering and operative habit that moves to action.48 According to St. Thomas Aquinas, "Synderesis" is not a power but a habitIn order to make this clear we must observe that man's act of reasoning, since it is a kind of movement, proceeds from the understanding of certain things---namely, those which are naturally known without any investigation on the part of reason, as from an immovable principle--and ends also at the understanding, inasmuch as by means of those principles naturally known, we judge of those things which we have discovered by reasoning. Now it is clear that, as the speculative reason argues about speculative things, so that practical reason argues about practical things. Therefore we must have, bestowed on us by nature, not only speculative principles, but also practical principles. Now the first speculative principles bestowed on us by nature do not belong to a special power, but to a special habit, which is called "the understanding of principles," as the Philosopher explains (Ethic. vi, 6). Wherefore the first practical principles, bestowed on us by nature, do not belong to a special power, but to a special natural habit, which we call "synderesis." Whence "synderesis" is said to incite to good, and to murmur at evil, inasmuch as through first principles we proceed to discover, and judge of what we have discovered.49 The practical reason of every person then has this habit which incites him to do good and avoid evil. Elaborating on this idea of St. Thomas, Rhonheimer explains that there are naturally known first principles from which every judgment of practical reason takes its start. Basing itself on these principles, reason goes forth in various ways to reach a judgment about various things. It is the task of reason to discover and make a judgment of each particular case or action considered. There comes then the duty of each person to make sure that the judgments she/he makes on their personal moral action is correct. This brings us to the duty of each person to form the conscience well. Formation of conscience points to the need to educate reason in knowing what is right and wrong. It points to the duty of each person to ascertain whether his or her moral judgments are in accord with the truth. Only the true and certain conscience is the right proximate rule of morality. If the conscience is erroneous and one realizes it, or one suspects that it is erroneous, then one cannot follow it. The person has the obligation to make sure that her/his conscience is true, that is, sufficiently formed and informed, educated, and in agreement with reality. The means to do this are through habitual reflection on ones actions, seeking advice, fostering the moral virtues and striving to acquire an adequate religious and moral formation, prayer, and having an upright intention.

48 49

Rhonheimer, 279. Summa Theologiae, I, q 79 a 12.


Chapter 7: Morality of human action

We now come to the heart of Ethics as we will tackle the very substance out of which ethical judgments arise. Only human actions can be judged as right or wrong. In other words, only the actions of human persons may be considered blame worthy. A proof of this is that every society has a penal system which metes out the punishment for bad behavior. Similarly, we reward heroic behavior in recognition of the moral quality of the person who has executed such an act or series of actions. In order to understand why morality is proper of human acts as well as find out what the determinants for morality would be, we will first examine the notion of human act.

Human acts as personal acts

We had seen in chapter two that the human person is a subject, an entity which exists and acts in a certain way.50 Moreover, the person as a subject, possesses free will and is her/his own master. An aspect of this personality, as discussed previously, is inalienability, meaning that personality is non-transferable. What constitutes the inner life of a person, and expressed in out action, is her/his very own. There is inherent in personhood the power for self determination. Any act of the person over which he or she has mastery is called a human act. It is also called a moral act. The experience which the subject has of being the author and the efficient cause of the act creates the difference between the human act and the act of man. 51 Human acts are those over which the person has dominion, or are carried out in personal autonomy, in freedom and with rational consideration.52 Whatever destroys or diminishes the proper activity of the intellect and will, also destroys or diminishes voluntariness and so affects the morality of the act.53 We have to state that in carrying out any human action, it is the entire human person that is involved, and not just simple a part of the person. It would be absurd, for example, for a thief to say that only the hands performed the evil deed of stealing something, whereas in reality, the act of stealing involves the entirety of the person. Since the human act is one which engages the intelligence and free will of the person, they cross the realm of moral virtue or of vice. This is why they are also called moral acts. Rhoneheimer clarifies the notion of human act by distinguishing it from pure acts of cognition and from production acts (like the building of a house or the production of a painting). 54 These actions per sethe building of a house, or researching as suchcan be correlated to no specific moral virtue. The goals of each of these activities are geared toward producing certain effects and not particular moral objects. However, de facto, these actions are moral actions insofar as

Wojtyla, 21.b Buttiglione, 135. 52 Summa Theologioae, I-II, q 1 a 3; Rhonheimer, 411. 53 Bittle, 80. 54 Rhonheimer, 411.

39 they are carried out by the human person who does them to aim at a certain good. The house builder, for example, builds a house for a specific practical good: so that people can live in the house. Therefore, as a human being, the builder pursues a human good which is more than simply the construction of a building. This human good is to address the need of persons for shelter and survival. Thus, the act of building a house acquires a human quality, and can therefore be qualified as a moral act. In other words, his action has acquired a moral object insofar as the good is considered already. (More on the moral object will be discussed shortly.). However, we can clearly distinguish the two levels of action here in the sense that you can have a good house builder who may be an evil person. We are talking here of two different things: technical skill in building, and the moral quality of the person. There are some actions, however, which cannot be distinguished in the way that we have distinguished those acts geared towards production. Take the following actions as examples: telling the truth (or a lie), giving birth to a child, killing a human being. What is peculiar of these specific actions is that they immediately have a moral quality. The moral quality of an actwhether that act is good or evilis determined by the end of the human act, that is to say, the goal toward which the act tends. Ethically speaking, the end is that for which a person undertakes an action knowingly and willfully. Now this end, can be seen from two viewpoints: as the end of the act taken in itself (object of an act), and the end as that which is intended by the doer (intention). Other ethical terminologies would identify the end as either the end of the act (finis operis), and the end of the agent (finis operantis). We shall discuss the first now. As can be shortly seen, these two may either coincide or differ, depending of the circumstances.

The object of a moral action

The object of a moral action refers to the object of the will, or the goal and good pursued by the will when a person carries out a moral action. This as yet, does not refer to the intention. Rather, the object of moral action points to the goal or end sought by the will as specified by reason, every time an action is carried out. For example, the object of the human act of procreation is the human good of the transmission of human life. 55 Subsumed under this moral object are other values which are intrinsically linked to the act of human procreation: that when this act is carried out, the person is cooperating in the plan of the Creator for the transmission of human life; that in this act, the person participates in the building up of human community, and that included in this is the good of bringing up children within the stable bond of marriage. This act is human because it is not simply the organ that carries out the action but the entire person. This action is then a properly human and personal act, and not simply a biological one. The moral object of this act can be highlighted if we differentiate it from an act which may be materially similar to it but in essence has a totally different moral object. Take the example of on one hand the sexual act within marriage done with openness to procreation and on the other hand the identical act of nonmarried persons (for example in an adulterous relationship). Here we are faced with two materially identical actions but with morally

Rhonheimer, 416.

40 different objects. The difference lies in the moral being (esse morale) of the act. According to Thomas, the human act, which is called a moral act, obtains its specification from an object related to the principle of human acts, which is reason.56 From this, we see that when done within marriage and when open to life, the moral object of the sexual act is geared to its proper object. On the other hand, in an adulterous relationship, the moral object of the act is not geared toward the human good of procreation but becomes the expression of a vice (lust), with a view to making the other person an object of satisfaction of such a desire. By its essence, the moral object of the latter act is evil while the moral object of the former is good. The goodness or evil of an action is primarily found in the fitness of the moral object. St. Thomas says: the primary goodness of a moral action is derived from its suitable object: hence some call such an action "good in its genus"; for instance, "to make use of what is one's own." And the primary evil in moral actions is that which is from the object, for instance, "to take what belongs to another." And this action is said to be "evil in its genus.57 This means that the goodness or evil of an action is found in whether or not the object of the moral action is a fitting object. And it is reason that judges, or rules and measures the objective meaning of our actions. In other words, the good and evil of human action is considered with regard for how the act accords with reason, as informed by divine law, by nature, or by instruction.58 If we go back to the example of the sexual act, when it is done within marriage and with a view of being open to procreation, then the object is proper of the act. Hence it is good. 59 On the other hand, when the sexual act is done within an adulterous relationship, even if materially the couple is open to life that may ensue from such an act, the primary object of the act is not procreative. The essence of the distinction between the two is a clear understanding that the human sexual act has a certain meaning and end, and it is that this act has a connection with the transmission of human life, aside from it being an act of loving unity between a man and a woman. Rhonheimer explains that the moral object of the act of human conception as a human act is the loving unity between a man and a woman, which in itself contains the meaningful content of the transmission of human life. There is a relation between married love and the transmission of human life. Married love is a personal actessentially an act of the willthat reaches out to the good of the transmission of human life.60

The intention
The intention is the end which the doer directly pursues in undertaking any action. A correct understanding of the object of an act will immediately lend the idea the often, the object
56 57

Summa Theologiae, I-II, q 18, a 8. Summa Theologiae I-II, q 18, a.2 58 De Malo, q 2. a. 4. 59 Note however, that as John Paul II expressed it, even within marriage, if the couple performs the sexual act without being open to life (as in the case of the use of contraception), then morally speaking, the sexual act does not have the fullness of what it ought to be, hence it is evil. This is the reason why contraception is morally evil. 60 Rhonheimer, 424.

41 of the act (finis operis) is actually the object of the will of the agent as well (finis operantis ). Rhonheimer clearly states that indeed often, the finis operis is always a finis operantis.61 When they do differ from one another, it is in those cases where the agent wills something else other than what the action is objectively tended towards. This occurs when someone wills a final purpose above or beyond the objective goal (for example, when a businessman opens a new TV station for example not only with the purposes intrinsic to the media business, but as a means of propaganda for some ideology or doctrine); or when someone wills an intention that is contradictory to the meaning of the action (this is the case of the couple who perform the sexual act not as a means of expression of married love open to life but out of mere pleasure).62 The intention of the agent affects the morality of an action in various ways. For an action to be morally good, the agent must have a good intention, that is, the intention must be objectively good, or it must be according to reason. An action which is objectively indifferent can become good or evil through a good intention or an evil intention. For example, Bittle gives this example. To visit a sick friend is morally speaking in itself neither good nor evil. To visit this person in order to provide cheer and comfort is an act of mercy and a good act; but to visit the person to aggravate the condition or harass the person is an act of cruelty and an evil act.63 An objectively good action receives added goodness when the agent does it with a good intention. For example, to study diligently is good. When a student does it for the higher motive of rendering glory to God through the use of ones talents, then that action has acquired greater goodness. An objectively good action, when done with an evil intention, becomes evil, either totally or partially, depending on whether the evil intention is the total or partial cause of the action. For example, if a teacher helps a student but with the intention of securing an advantageous favor from acquaintance with that student, then the action becomes partly evil. If the teacher offers help for the sole reason of securing that favor, then that action is selfish and evil. Or if a man offers to help a destitute but pretty girl for the genuine purpose of relieving her poverty but also of inducing her to become his mistress, then his partial intention is seriously evil.

Human actions are carried out not in a vacuum but usually under varying circumstances. These circumstances, although they will not be determinative of the morality of an action, often affect the morality by lessening or aggravating the goodness or evil of an action. There are seven universally recognized circumstances. These are: Who: this indicates any special quality of the person involved in the moral act. For example, it is more grievous to strike a parent than ones neighbor.

61 62

Rhonheimer, 432. The key here is that in this example the couple wills the act to be unfruitful. This is not the case of a couple who, for example, for natural reasons are unsterile. In this case, the situation is not intentionally sought. For an extensive discussion on this matter, see Rhonheimer, 434. 63 Bittle, 90.

42 What: this indicates the quantity or quality of the moral object. Stealing five pesos is very different from stealing a million. Where: this denotes the location where the act occurs. Committing a crime in a church is more serious than in a bar. By what means: this considers the means employed to carry out an action. A person who intends to escape from responsibilities is bad enough. But taking drugs to escape from these responsibilities is obviously more evil. Why: this refers to the purpose the action is done. Since this is an intrinsic part of moral action, it was treated separately above in intention. How: this indicates the manner by which an action is done. For example, telling a lie on an impulse as a defensive response is very differently from plotting to lie. There is premeditation in the latter. When: this refers to the time element involved in the action involved, both in the quantity and quality aspect. For example, to be angry momentarily is different from nurturing that anger and keeping it for some years.

Circumstances in themselves do not determine the morality of an act but can aggravate or lessen a morally good or evil act. An objectively good act is made more good or less good by circumstances. For examples, giving alms is a good act. If I do this grudgingly, then the goodness of the act is lessened. Lying is an evil act. If I do this because I am caught unaware, then the evil is lessened since there is no premeditation.

Consequences of human action

All our actions have consequences and we can differentiate two kinds. One kind is that which are constitutive of the action in a moral sense (since they specify the action involved as a human and moral action). These refer to the nature of the action. For example, what is the real nature of human speech? It springs from the speech capability of the human spirit and from human sociability to convey a certain reality. A lie, therefore, would distort this capability. The second kind of consequence is one which is only contingent, circumstantial, and possible. For example, if I steal some money, I will have to contend with a guilty conscience after. Some philosophers of ethics contend that the morality of an act depends on the evil or good consequences that an action brings. This is the doctrine called Consequentialism., which we will discuss in a later chapter. We mention this idea here inasmuch as it tackles the intrinsic morality of actions. For example, contenders of stem cell research using human embryos justify the research by saying that the findings will bring manifold advantages to those who are suffering from illnesses like diabetes or Alzheimers. They contend that the benefits the research will bring will far outweigh the manipulation of the embryos. This argument skirts the real issue, which is that the morality of an action does not depend on weighing the good and bad consequences, tallying and acting on that which will bring more benefits. Rather, the morality of an act depends on the moral object, the intention and the circumstances. In the example of stem cell research, no matter how good the intentions of the scientists may be, and no matter how many benefits may accrue from such a research, still to manipulate the human embryo is intrinsically evil due to the fact the human embryo is human and therefore should not be treated

43 as an object, like a lab specimen. To experiment on the live human embryo is to subject it to an inhuman treatment. It is an intrinsically evil action.

Intrinsically good or evil actions

An intrinsically evil action denotes an action that is morally bad in its own objective structure and not because a law or some mandate says that it is so, or because of circumstances and consequences. For Aristotle, it is not so much in doing what is right but being right in doing what is right. He says: Therefore it is never possible to do these things rightly, but rather always to do wrong in doing them. For the question whether they are done rightly or wrongly does not consist in considering, for instance, whether one commits adultery with the right person, or at the right time, or in the right manner, but simply to do anything of this kind is wrong.64 Here, we make a distinction between suffering wrong and doing wrong. The latter is the moral evil. An action is intrinsically evil when it has the consequence that the human being loses his or her undeniable fundamental dignity by doing it. Some actions are in themselves bad and always wrong. Morality does not consist in the achievement of any good consequences or effects whatsoever in the human socio-historical environment; rather, it is concerned that the acting person be good. The human good lies in the bonum rationis, in a life according to reason, and thus in the realization of personal autonomy. Plato says that it has to do with the good of the soul. At the same time, we have to recognize a basic human condition: we have an inclination to wickedness but no human science can explain why. The will and the appetites are by nature set up to strive according to reason but are not actually habitually oriented toward the good of neighbor or of God. The following actions, for example, are wrong not simply because they have evil consequences but because their results are constitutive in a specifically human manner for the action in questions. o Divorce: Marriage is indissoluble because its dissolution would have as a consequence that a woman would no longer be the companion, but rather the slave of a man; o Contraception: whether done in anticipation of the conjugal act, during, or in the course of the development of its consequence, any act which cuts the connection between loving union and procreation would be wrong because it renders married love, in its fullest sense, meaningless; o Lying is wrong because it makes human communication, community life and so on impossible; o Drunkenness/Doing drugs are morally reprehensible because man loses his dignity as a being who acts according to reason;


Nichomachean Ethics II, 3 1221b19ff

44 It should be said, however, that the expression intrinsically evil action should always be understood in relation to an ethical context.65 For example, we have said above that lying is intrinsically wrong because it goes against the nature of human communication. What of the case of a prisoner of war then who is being interrogated on the whereabouts of his troops. Is he doing evil if he hides the truth about them? Rhonheimer proposes that the case of the prisoner of war is not an exception to the rule but rather a different ethical context. In the case of war, the interrogation of this prisoner is not an expression of human communication but is on the contrary an act of aggression. Therefore, the prisoner of war is not bound to tell on his troops. Rather, he has every right and duty to protect himself from this act of aggression.

Formation in freedom
Freedom is an existential principle of morality in the sense that it is an existential principle of moral good or moral evil because moral good and moral evil depend for their being on the power of free choice. This is so because what we do is our doing and can be evil doing or its opposite only if we freely choose to do it. A dog or a cat or a chimp cannot be morally good or evil. They do not have the freedom of choice. On the other hand, human persons can be good or evil because they have the power of free choice. It is through free choice that human persons make themselves to be the sort of persons that they are, that they make themselves to be morally good or morally bad persons. It is for this reason that free choice is an existential principle of morality.66 For this reason, it is very important to form the person to learn how to make decision and choose freely but also rightly. This task primarily belongs to the parents. Then, later on to educators, and in the adult stages of life, this task belongs to the individual person. It is very important to form the person in freedom because through ones personal choices, the person in a real sense forms himself/herself to be the kind of person he or she is. This is the significance of the human act, which is personal and free. The human act is that act through which man actualizes those potentials which are proper to him insofar as he is a person, and in this way he builds personality. Through this act man to some extent creates himself, his own interiority and moral personality.67 Through self-determined action the person really modifies himself and influences the process of his own becoming and his own self-realization.68

65 66

Rhonheimer, 479. WIllam E. May, Introduction to Moral Theology, (Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 1991), 23. 67 Buttiglione, 135 68 Buttiglione, 142


Chapter 8: Virtues and Vices

The human person is influenced in his activity by certain ways of being proper to him. He is affected by permanent dispositions such that in a very real way, the persons efforts to attain his end are not reduced to nothingness. A persons efforts leave a mark upon him or her. The person has a history which conserves its past to enjoy and use it in a perpetual present. The most general form of this fixing of past experience is called habit. Habits are qualities (accidents, in the metaphysical sense) that come closest to the nature of man to enter into his essence. A persons habits determine the manner in which he realizes his essence and how far or near he is from the end proper to him. In other words, habits indicate the extent to which a person is able to perfect the self or not. Those which draw the person closer to his ideal are called good habits; and on the contrary, those which draw the person away from his ideal are bad habits. Strictly defined, habits are dispositions according to which man is well or ill disposed. What are the conditions needed to develop a habit? Habits need a subject in potency to different determinations. Said differently, a subject which is open to different possibilities of perfection, given a certain nature, then certain habits can set in. For example, a relatively young athlete who is training for a competition will need to acquire a certain set of actions which will effectively deliver the ball so that he/she scores effectively. Since the athlete has the potency to acquire those good or bad moves, then the athlete has potential to develop good or bad habits. Where do habits develop? The following are not subject to habits, a)bodies which are bound to their elements. e.g. Nickel has atomic wt=58.71, boiling pt=2730 C, density= 8.9 g/ml; b) bodies whose matter is definitely fixed by their form. .e.g. Alpha Centauri, the closest bright star to our solar system; and c) God, who is totally in act, is not in potency to any determination. Also habits cannot develop in sensitive powers of the human soul. For example, the eyes are determined to their act seeingby a natural bent. Habits develop in the intellect where there are many indeterminate powers that can be combined and organized. For example, I can solve quadratic, cubic and quartic equations. Habits develop also in the will since it is a faculty with free indetermination. e.g. I show respect to each person. Any given intellect is inseparable from the habits that enrich or degrade it. In the intellect, the development of habits is not only possible, but necessary as well. The intellect, due to its universality and indetermination, can never attain its end, unless some disposition inclines it to do so. These dispositions are the habits, self-provided instruments that establish the relation between the intellect and its objects. The intellect freely chooses habits. For example, you can choose to use mnemonic devices ("In fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.") because the intellect demands that fast info recall. Once the material is well known, mnemonics can be abandoned.

46 Generally, habits develop more from acts than from natural dispositions. Sometimes a single act is enough to have a habit. An evident statement convinces my intellect definitively and I accept the conclusion permanently. For example, "You shall not kill" has absolute value when it refers to the innocent person. Frequently, many analogous and repeated acts are required to generate a habit. This can be illustrated on a societal level how repeated action generates a common opinion. An opinion does not prevail the first time, but later becomes a habitual belief and with the repetition of acts, a habit is progressively built. For example, it is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. But because of repeated slogans and common opinion, certain societies are habituated to taking this course of action.

Virtue and human perfection

Virtues are habits which dispose us in a lasting way to perform good actions. Strictly speaking, they are good habits that dispose a person to perform acts consistent with his nature. Vices are bad habits which dispose to acts not consistent with mans nature. In knowing what acts are more consistent with human nature, we will know virtue from vice, moral good from moral evil. Virtue consists essentially and primarily in a permanent disposition to act in conformity with reason. The human persons complexity (the fact that the person is a composite of soul and body) shows that not all of a persons acts (body) obey reason (soul). If the person were pure spirit, he/she need only see what he/she should do to do it. When these virtues (or vices) have been accumulated over time, they constitute the character of the person. Character is the integral existential identity of the personthe entire person in all his or her dimensions shaped by morally good and bad choicesconsidered as a disposition to further choices.69 In its most general meaning, virtue is the excellence of a thing according to its kind, its due perfection. Aristotle says the virtue of a man will be a state of character which makes a man good and makes him do his own work well.70 It is a settled disposition of the mind determining the choice of actions and emotions, consisting essentially in the observance of the mean relative to us (determined by principle, as the prudent man would determine it.) In its specific sense, virtue is an operative habit, a principle from which good acts easily flow, the power to choose well what befits a person. It consists in conformity with the rule of reason by striking the mean between excess and defect This mean is often referred to as the the golden mean auream mediocritatem. This mean is not a mathematical center of two equidistant extremes. Rather, it is that mean which objectively here and now is the best for this particular agent. For example, virtue in the control of emotions means that one does not check them too
69 70

Grisez, Christian Moral Principles, 59. Nichomachean.Ethics II, 6, 1106a

47 much or too little but permits them to be aroused at the right time, toward the right object, with reference to the right people, from the right motive, in the right measure. There are two kinds of virtues: a) Intellectual virtues: produced and increased by instruction; and so this requires experience and time; and b) Moral virtues: product of habit (repeated acts) and have something to do with pleasure and pain; and action and feeling. In summary, these intellectual and moral virtues are the following.

Intellectual virtues

Moral virtues

These virtues pertain to the speculative activity These virtues reside in the different powers of of the intellect. the person and will be tackled extensively later.

Understanding (intelligence; intuition): through this virtue, a person grasps self-evident truths without need for discursive reasoning Knowledge (science): through this virtue, a person grasps conclusion of some specialized matters (these involve truths that are not immediately evident, but deduced or concluded.) When reason tends towards conclusions provisionally, then it deals with science Art: through this virtue, a person chooses efficient means to make or do something. Wisdom: through this virtue, a person understands realities in their ultimate causes; this involves truths that are also deduced or concluded at the ultimate level.

o o o

Justice resides in the will Temperance resides in sensitive appetite Fortitude resides in the irascible appetite

Prudence: It is both an intellectual and moral virtue. Through this virtue, a person discerns his true end (supreme good) and the means proper to these ends. It makes a person good without qualification. For it is not enough that a person thinks; he must live and live rightly. To live rightly, is to act rightly. To act rightly is not only to know what we ought to do but also how we ought to do it.

48 Thus, for a person to act well the person must have intellectual virtues which dispose reason, and moral virtues which dispose the appetites or the persons faculty of desiring. For this reason, Aristotle defines virtue as a praiseworthy disposition which renders a man good.71 When is a person acting virtuously? Aristotle identifies three conditions to determine virtuous action: 1st: When the person acts with knowledge; 2nd: When the person deliberately chooses the act and chhooses it for its own sake; and 3rd: When the act springs from a fixed and permanent disposition of character. Also as mentioned above, virtue is often defined as a mean between two vices, one of excess and the other of defect. In the table below, we list the virtues identified by Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics: Class of Action or Feeling Fear and confidence Pleasure and pain Giving and getting small amounts of money Giving and getting large amounts of money Major honor and dishonor Minor honor and dishonor Anger Truthfulness about ones own merits Pleasantness in social amusement Pleasantness is social conduct Shame Pleasure in others misfortunes Excess Rashness Profligacy Prodigality Vulgarity Vanity Ambitiousness Irascibility Boastfulness Buffoonery Obsequiousness Bashfulness Envy Mean (Virtue) Courage Temperance Liberality Magnificence Greatness of soul Proper ambition Gentleness Truthfulness Wittiness Friendliness Modesty Righteous indignation Deficiency Cowardice Insensitivity Meanness Paltriness Smallness of soul Unambitiousness Spiritlessness Self-depreciation Boorishness Surliness Shamelessness Malice

The moral virtues: why four cardinal virtues?

The moral virtues are also called the cardinal virtues, from the word cardo which means hinge. These four virtues are, as it were, the hinges upon which other moral virtues are connected. In general, a moral virtue is any habit operating under the direction of the will directly ordering man to his last end. It gives man the readiness to act in accord with reason.


Nichomachean Ethics, 1103a10

49 Since that which is reasonable leads to the last end, the person who possesses moral virtue is unqualifiedly, totally good. Why four? These moral habits dwell in those potencies from which the human act proceeds and in those which tend to oppose the wills dominion. a. In the mind: to act well, the person must be illumined by the mind presenting a true good to it. So the mind should be habituated to discern true good from apparent good. PRUDENCE is needed. b. In the will: a persons will the needs a habit to assist him to act reasonably toward fellow men and respect the good of others. JUSTICE is needed. c. In the concupiscible appetite: a good habit must reside in this appetite to restrain it within the bounds of reason in the pursuit of the sensible good. This is TEMPERANCE. d. In the irascible appetite. A similar habit must reside in this appetite to restrain man from acting unreasonably in the face of difficulty and danger. This is FORTITUDE.

Prudence or recta ratio agibilium refers to right reason in the doing of things. It entails the regulation of the activity of the will so that it acts in accordance with reason. It also entails having sound judgment to enable the person to decide on the right action in a specific situation or condition. Prudence denotes the ability to discern the fitting ends and means in all actions and makes middle path clear in all the virtues. Without prudence, courage could degenerate into recklessness, modesty into prudery, and meekness into timidity. Prudence also denotes knowledge of reality and the realization of the good (objective cognition of reality determines action). The person who can do good is one who knows what things are like and what their situation is. To will the appropriate end depends on prudence. Once the end is willed, prudence (as an intellectual virtue) deliberates and chooses the means suited to that end. Prudence depends not more on the strength of ones will than on the ability to steadily focus the mind on the true ends of life. The living unity of synderesis and prudence is conscience. Prudence requires an an attitude of silent contemplation of reality: (unbiased perception of reality). For this to happen, the following ought to be present: a. Memoria: true-to-being memory; this means that memory contains in itself real things and events as they really are and were. b. Docilitas: open-mindedness which recognizes the true variety of things and situations to be experienced and does not cage itself in any presumption of deceptive knowledge. It denotes the ability to take advice due to a real desire to understand (as opposed to the attitude of being a know-it-all). It also includes the art of receiving counsel c. Solertia: refers to clear-sighted objectivity in unexpected situations; nimbleness and ability to decide and respond to new situations


Justice is the virtue which regulates the content and nature of our actions, independent of our dispositions at the moment of acting and ultimately has reference to other persons we deal with. Whereas the three other cardinal virtues refer to the perfection of the person, within the self, the virtue of justice refers to the perfection of the person insofar as that person deals with other persons. In reference to other persons, justice assures the moral value of all actions that imply ideas of what is due (strict right) and not due. In its most general sense, the notion of justice is almost equivalent to the biblical notion of holiness or sanctity. The just person in the Bible is a holy person. This is because a person who obeys and follows the law, or what is strictly due to himself or to others, is a just person. In fact, according to Aristotle, the violator of the law is unjust and the keeper of the law is just. In its particular sense, justice is the moral habit which regulates our conduct toward other persons, this is why it always has reference to another. It is a virtue which tends to establish equality among persons. As a cardinal virtue, it is the constant and perpetual will to render another person his due. The word constant indicates a habit of the will. Perpetual indicates that the will is ready to respect anothers right not merely for a time but for always. The due refers to what belongs to another by a strict right and does not merely refer to what is due from fitness, decency, need, etc. The word another indicates someone separate from the self. An example of this would be that an employer is just inasmuch as he/she honors the stipulations of a contract with regard to an employee. And in turn, an employee is just inasmuch as this person fulfills his/her end of the contract. So the practice of absenteeism, on the part of the employee for example, would make the employee unjust. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle divides the virtue of justice into three: a. Commutative justice: this virtue regulates the relations between two equal parties and involves two things: a) parties adequately distinct; b) an object which actually belongs to someone by right. Commutative justice requires that what is due be rendered to the person involved. This virtue maintains equality between individuals. This does not mean all individual should have equal possession but rather that the possessions of all are inviolable. It also requires just restitution for violations. For example, it means that if I cannot pay my debts on time, I have to render not only the entire debt but also the penalty I incurred with my failure to comply with the terms of the contract. If an offense is committed against commutative justice, the obligation of restitution always remains. b. Legal justice: the virtue which binds the individual to the State. The law determines what the common good of the State requires and this virtue entails the promotion of the civic good. Hence the citizen is obliged to obey and fulfill the just laws framed by the state to promote the common good. c. Distributive justice: this virtue determines what the natural society owes the individual members. It entails a fair disbursement of common advantages and a common sharing of common burdens, proportioned according to the needs, abilities, and merits of individuals. It can be neatly summed up in the saying which goes: From all according to their abilities; to each according to his needs. This virtue is exercised by the legitimate authoritiesby the father in

51 the family; and by the head of the State with the aim of promoting the social good of the individual. Modern social phenomenon has come up with a fourth classification of justice which has been termed Social Justice. This virtue recognizes that an individual is a member of a natural communityfamily, Stateand therefore has the duty to promote the common good of the community, outside of the strict requirements of any contract. For example, social justice demands that corporations render some project which will benefit the community where it operates and not merely extract some profit for the services or goods that it renders. Another example is that social justice requires that a university renders some public service to the community it resides in recognition of its being a member of the community. This is the reason why service projects or outreach projects are organized. Social justice demands that a member of a community contribute its due share to the whole. In turn, a person is socially just when s/he constantly renders the common good what it exacts of him. But no human law can dictate to her/him how exactly she/he should do this. Lastly on the idea of justice, we will dwell on religion as a special form of justice. We stated earlier that justice regulates the relations between two persons of equal rank. In this light, religion, defined as the virtue which regulates the relations between the Creator and the creature, is a special form of justice because God and creature are definitely not of equal rank. St. Thomas Aquinas says: For it is He to whom we ought to be bound as to our unfailing principle; to Whom also our choice should be resolutely directed as to our last end. Religion, as a virtue linked to justice leads a person to pay due honor to God. In its proper and immediate acts, it leads a person to render sacrifice, adoration and the like to God. As a means, it directs other actions with a view to fulfilling the basic duty of honoring God. Socrates, as can be read in the dialogues of Plato (in particular, Euthyphro), asked what piety toward the gods was. Is piety good because the gods demand it, or do they demand it because it is good? What we can glean from his ideas is that the worship of God is good, not for the sake of God but for the sake of the human person. Innate in the human person is a desire for transcendence, to escape and transcend the limits of his own humanity and raise his mind to the highest being. The human being has a sense that this is what he should do, that she/he should practice religion. Sometimes, people justify that religion only seems to be used as an end for man to obtain goods which are beyond his ken, such as praying for rain, or to win the lottery. This may be true of some but at the root behind religion is a desire to seek God as an end in himself, not as a means to some other desired thing.

Nowadays, temperance is not a very popular virtue. Perhaps for this reason, this virtue will be treated more extensively than the rest. Whereas justice may still be popularly invoked in the public forum, the same cannot be said of temperance. In fact, popular culture disdains temperance. The slogans of modernity in fact defy temperance. We are constantly being urged to

52 get the fastest, latest and most updated model of anything. We are told to live it up and get hold of the latest highs human experience can provide. However, much of the dissatisfaction of modern times may be rooted in the absence of this virtue. Paradoxically, the way to be happy is not to load ourselves with as many things and as many satisfactions or immediate gratification we can lay our hands on. The way to be happy is by way of temperance. We shall see why this is so. A story is told of Socrates going through the malls of his time. One of his students who knew of his disdain for material things expressed surprise at finding him at the mall. Socrates was said to reply that he was examining the mall just to see how many things he didnt really need. Socrates was said to be a temperate man. The need for temperance has to do with the desire of the person for happiness and where this happiness ultimately lies. Aristotle realized that the fullness of man's life is achieved not by immediate gratification of the sensible appetites but by exercising one's highest powers at the level of their best performance toward the best possible object. This ultimately means that only God can make the person happy. In the thought of Aristotle, the ultimate happiness consisted in exercising the faculty of reason to contemplate the divine. And all other human activities should be directed to this end. This is a surprising conclusion, considering that Aristotle was a pagan. However, Aristotle arrived at this conclusion through his philosophical reasoning. First, Aristotle was convinced that the whole universe was rationally ordered. This conviction was reinforced by his studies in all areas of science. His particular observations in biology and physics might have been occasionally faulty, but he paved the way for modern science with his conviction that all things in nature manifest order, unity and beauty, and that man's reason can discover and appreciate this order. He concluded that nature was directed by a being that was pure reason, a self-thinking thought, and that this being was complete in himself. Now we mention all this in relation to temperance because to be able to contemplate the higher ideals in life, the human person needs to be directed by reason. And reason is in danger of being overcome by one thing: a deluge of bodily pleasures. Nature attaches a commensurate pleasure to all our activities. However, bodily pleasures are so vivid and alluring that they can diminish the appeal of a purely spiritual pleasure. There is danger of unreasonably seeking bodily pleasure. This is why we need to moderate our desire for pleasures through the virtue of temperance. Temperance is about moderation but not only that. It has to do with establishing harmony within the person. This means harmonizing the desires of the person. Buddhism says that the way to be happy is to eradicate all desires. However, right reason tells us that this is not necessarily the case. Rather, the way to be happy and content is to moderate our desires. This is the role of temperance. We have several strong desires to be moderated: the desire for knowledge, desire for power, sexual desire, the desire for food, etc. The list is almost endless. However, in all of these, there is a need to put harmony in the person, through the use of reason. Isnt it true that lack of moderation in eating can lead to feelings of discomfort, or even illness. The same holds true for other things we desire. An author writes:

53 The virtue of temperance applied to the work of the mind was called studiositas by Aquinas, and the vice where our desire for knowledge is uncontrolled and excessive is called curiositas. Curiosity is a desire for knowledge, but not for the sake of knowing the truth and perceiving reality. It is enjoying the pleasure of seeing for its own sake. Curiosity is a sign of restlessness of spirit, and it may be related to despair. A person who thinks he has no hope of discovering the truth about reality may lose himself in a restless search for sensations and scattered facts. One sign that the desire for knowledge is so deep within man, is that it is so easily exploited. For example, the media know how to foster an endless appetite for sensation. There is no reason why we should want to know about the lives of celebrities, or that we need minute by minute coverage of foreign crises. We should know from experience that we really cannot understand the implications of news events until long after they have happened, but we can easily feel the need to "be in touch". The need for news can lead to a vicious circle. The mind becomes numb when faced with an information overload, and then we constantly watch for more serious crises and scandals to shake us out of our numbness. The well-ordered mind, however, seeks what it needs to know, and is able to shut out the noise of pseudo-reality. The virtue of studiousness is especially important in the academic life. The virtue of temperance puts our own innermost being in proper order and harmony. We must be concerned for ourself, but not in a self-centered way. Temperance is selfless self-preservation. The same basic inclinations and drives that are for the sake of existence can turn against us if they are not governed by reason. In our quest for the truth, we must have temperance, because we can be swayed easily by pleasure not to accept an unpleasant truth, or by friendship not to accept an unpopular truth. Temperance protects prudence, because a false opinion will affect our relation to all reality and affect all our decisions.

Temperance also has to do with moderating our emotions. Making the right decision is part of prudence, but our decisions can be affected by our emotions. For this reason, part of temperance is to govern our emotions and direct them by reason, and in this way to protect prudence. The idea of the golden mean is important in this. On the one hand, the person who is incapable of anger cannot exercise the virtue of fortitude, and may even fail in self-preservation. The emotional energy of anger is necessary to us to overcome difficulties. On the other hand, a person may be excessively angry by over-reacting, or when he is angered at innapropriate times and objects, or when the anger has an irrational motivation such as pride. Temperance also governs our desire for honor and power. Ambition is not wrong in itself. When a man has a true opinion of himself, he may rightly think that he is the best person to fill a certain position, and then he rightly strives for the position. Aristotle described the man with a proper sense of his self-worth as a high-minded or magnanimous man. He is a proud man, but proud in a good sense, having an authentic sense of his real worth. Such a man does not abase himself before others. He is not overly concerned with the opinions that other people have of

54 him. He bows to God alone. This sense of self-respect and self-worth is not contrary to humility, which is also based on a true estimation of our worth. Humility as a virtue means especially to realize our fragility as human beings, and our dependence upon God. It is also the foundation of our attitude of piety toward our families and our community. Higgins writes: the natural law forbids man to deprive himself the use of reason without a justifying cause. It is of our nature to direct our actions by reason. We cannot deprive ourselves of the use of reason except when it necessary for self-preservation. The most common example of depriving ourselves of the use of reason for a justifiable reason is falling asleep. Another circumstance is the use of general anesthetic during a surgical operation. However, excessive drinking to the point where someone no longer has the power to make a rational decision is morally wrong. The same applies to narcotics or psychotropic drugs, especially if they can cause delusions and hallucinations. Strong stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetimes may not directly affect our ability to reason, but can lead us to irrational behavior by stimulating adrenaline production, leading to uncontrolled anger. In nursing homes and hospitals, drugs are often prescribed to relieve pain and to relieve emotional distress. However, it sometimes happens that they are used to control patients who cause too many problems for the medical staff, who find their jobs easier if the patients are intoxicated to the point of passivity. It is hard to establish the exact point where such overmedication begins, but people who work in medicine must be aware of the rights of their patients to a conscious and human existence. In sum, temperance can be found in the following virtues: abstinence: moderation in food; sobriety: moderation in drink; and chastity: moderates sexual pleasure. Other related virtues are: Self-restraint: the virtue which enables the will to resist the most powerful emotions of sensible desires for pleasure which run counter to the norm of morality; Humility: inclines the will away from seeking greater estimation than one deserves Meekness: moderates anger and the desire for revenge so we may avoid vindictiveness; Clemency: inclines the will to forgive the faults committed against ones self by others to exact a punishment within the demands of reason than the strict letter of the law requires Modesty: regulates external behavior in movement, speech, posture, dress and amusements

Fortitudes is identified by Aristotle as courage which is the observance of the mean between fear and confidence. He says: The courageous man is he that endures or fears the right things and for the right purpose and in the right manner at the right time, and who shows confidence in a similar way. Fortitude is the virtue which inclines a person to act reasonably despite the prompting of his irascible appetite. The irascible appetite moves toward an arduous good or shuns a difficult evil. Its function is to restrain our fears and moderate our rashness. It entails a reasonable endurance of evil or the conquest of difficulty. It also deals with our passions at the time of the acting, especially when irascible appetite (makes us avoid a danger we ought to

55 face) prevent us from acting by fear of danger/effort. Fortitude strengthens us in the resolution our reason dictates. Thus a serial killer may persevere bravely in his crime without acquiring fortitude. We can identify two extremes in the behaviors which seem to mimic fortitude but is in fact not the virtue of fortitude. On one hand is rashness. A rash person pretends to courage which he does not possess. He makes a bold show in situations that inspire confidence but do not endure terrors. In the end, the rash person is really a coward at heart. At the other extreme is fearfulness or timidity. The timid person fears the wrong things and in the wrong manner. He is deficient in confidence but has excessive fear in the face of pain. In the words of Aristotle: But to seek death in order to escape from poverty or the pangs of love, or from pain or sorrow, is not the act of the courageous man, but rather of a coward; for it is weakness to fly from troubles, and the suicide does not endure death because it is noble to do so, but to escape evil. The courageous man, therefore, will be he who fearlessly confronts a noble death or some other peril. 72 There are some common ways of manifesting fortitude. These are generally related virtues which are intrinsically related to the cardinal virtue: Patience: the virtue which enables a person to bear with reasonable endurance the ordinary difficulties of life. Perseverance: the virtue which enables a person to persist long in something good until it is accomplished. Magnanimity: is a special kind of fortitude which inclines a person to great deeds and hence to act reasonably in the face of great honor or dishonor.

The four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance are interconnected. This means that if you do not possess one of them, all the others are spoiled, and so you do not possess virtue at all. A few examples can illustrate this idea. A man might know what is good, know what he must do to get good results, but if he lacks temperance his decisions will be swayed by his love of pleasure. Or a man might be willing to risk his life, yet his actions are not guided by a right purpose. A bank robber who risks his life is not a prudent man, and so he is not truly a brave man. The other point about the virtues is that in many cases we cannot say precisely where virtue lies. The right measure is very difficult to achieve, and it is often different for different individuals. The idea of "The Golden Mean" is that in our actions we must seek the right measure and proportion. Excess or defect is a departure from virtue.


Nichomachean Ethics III, 7


Part III: Ethical Systems

Chapter 9: A Review of Ethical Systems
Ethics has to do with norms governing human actions. So far, we have discussed that these ethical norms are founded and derived from practical reason which gives rise to a command or a dictate embodied as a set of rules or what is called Natural law. Now some ethical systems derive ethical norms and principles differently from how we have conceived of it so far. We will now discuss some these different conceptions of ethical norms. We will focus mainly on those derivations based on a group of so-called teleological ethics. This ethical theory is said to judge actions in the light of their consequences, and hence is also called Consequentialism, as distinct for deontological ethics, which judges the moral quality of actions independently of their consequences. It has been argued, however, that these distinctions are misleading because ethical reasoning is not necessarily mutually exclusive as far as ends and consequences are concerned. We will tackle these ethical systems not in the light of their being teleological or deontological but insofar as they compare with the Personalist ethics of the strains of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Wojtyla.

As a general term, Consequentialism is the ethical theory which holds that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the consequences that an action brings. While this may hold some partial truth, Consequentialism as an ethical theory does not make any distinctions between consequences which are constitutive of the action and consequences which are merely incidental or accidental. What it proposes as a standard for evaluating the morality of an action is the net good which will accrue from the doing of an action. This means that it proposes to weigh all the possible consequences of an action and if the net effect is good, then that action would be morally good. Offhand, this is very hard to do because one could not possible foresee all the possible consequences of an action. Secondly, as we said, this theory does not distinguish between consequences which are constitutive of an act, and those that are not. The former affects the morality of an action while the latter may not. For example, if I were to lie to my mother about my whereabouts last night because I had gone to a place she had prohibited me from going, among the possible consequences would be the following: I would be constrained to forever hide this fact from her, and hence possibly add more lies to cover up; I may end up with a guilty conscience (or not at all); if she finds out, I may be grounded; my lying goes against the nature of communication, which is to express the truth about things. Of all these consequences, only the last one is constitutive of the action. Consequentialism has different shades and nuances, since consequences can greatly vary. Here, we will tackle the specific application of Consequentialism in the theories of Utilitarianism and Hedonism.


In general, Utilitarianism is a kind of Consequentialism which considers consequences which bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Classical Utilitarianism finds its roots in the thought of John Stuart Mill who conceived that actions have the character of utility when these actions promote happiness.73 Mills ideas in turn find their root in the thought of Jeremy Bentham who defined utility as a property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good or happiness or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness.74 The word utility comes from the Latin utilis, which means useful. In effect, Utilitarianism is a modern form of the Hedonistic ethical theory in the sense that it advocates pleasure as a gauge for moral goodness or moral evil. The term utilitarianism did not come into vogue until it had been adopted by Jeremy Bentham (in 1776, he formulated his celebrated utilitarian principle, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"). At its core, utilitarianism believes that we ought to do what produces the greatest overall good consequences for everyone, not just for me. We determine this by examining the various courses of action open to us, calculating the consequences associated with each, and then deciding on the one that produces the greatest overall good consequences for everyone. This is a very demanding moral doctrine for two reasons. First, it asks people to set aside their own individual interests for the good of the whole. For example, the presence of hunger and starvation places great demands on the utilitarian, for often more good would be accomplished by giving food to the hungry than eating it oneself. Second, utilitarianism asks us to do whatever produces the most good. Far from being a doctrine of the moral minimum, utilitarianism always asks us to do the maximum. The other principal disagreement that has plagued utilitarianism centers on the question of whether we look at the consequences of each individual actthis is called act utilitarianismor the consequences that would result from everyone following a particular rulethis is called rule utilitarianism. The danger of act utilitarianism is that it may justify some particular acts that most of us would want to condemn. Imagine a situation in which punishing an innocent personwhile concealing his innocence- would have the greatest overall good consequences. If doing so would result in the greatest overall amount of pleasure or happiness, and then it would not only be permitted by act utilitarianism, it would be morally required. Yet there are things we cannot do to people, even if utility seems to require it. In response to such difficulties, utilitarians say that, while consequences may justify a particular act of punishing the innocent, they could never justify living by a rule that permitted

J.S. Mill writes: The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds, that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure.

Jeremy Bentham, taken from An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Ch I, 3).

58 punishing the innocent to produce the greatest utility. Rule utilitarians maintain that we should look at the consequences of adopting a particular rule for everyone, not the consequences of each individual action. But many feel that it turns into rule-worship. Why should we follow the rule in those instances where it does not produce the greatest utility?

A critique of utilitarianism
We can first examine the main difference between Aristotle and Mill and the other utilitarians. What for Aristotle was the starting point for the search for the standard of morality the fact that everyone seeks happinessis for Mill the standard itself.75 This means that Mill does not take heed of the fact that there is a difference between the two. While it is true that everyone seeks happiness, it is important to distinguish clearly what it is that will make the person happy. Mill assumes this without clearly distinguishing the real dynamics of human happiness. Also it is important to understand that the key to happiness is an understanding of good the good of the human person. In relation to the notion of the good, on the metaphysical level, Mill fails to differentiate the notion of goodas that aspect under which everything is desiredfrom the notion of pleasure. The good is not the same as pleasure. For Mill, however, the good remains identified with what gives pleasure. In the end, in Mills ethical system, the pursuit of happiness is equated to a pursuit of pleasure. This is why his definition of good is hedonistic. Human experience shows, however, that not everything which is good gives pleasure. For example, a patient has to take some bitter medicine (in the literal and metaphorical sense) and this does not give pleasure but it is good. Secondly we have to recognize the difference between real good and apparent good. Sometimes, the latter can give pleasure but it does not lead the agent to his/her real end. Then it is no good at all. Aristotle, on the other hand, clearly recognized the distinction between the two. In fact, in the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle knew that virtuous action (good action) has to do with pleasure and pain and moderating ones behavior in response to these. The good, in the paradigm of Aristotle, can appear as honorable, pleasant, or useful. And it is the virtuous person who judges rightly about these things. Another critique is the fact that human goods are not fully achieved and accomplished at any point such that persons would have nothing more to do. In this case, the utilitarian slogan (greatest happiness for the greatest number) becomes meaningless. What is the greatest good in life for the greatest number of people? Can this be measured? To which persons does utilitarianism apply? Those born can be happy and achieve the greatest good. What about the unborn? Should we include them in calculating the greatest happiness?


Rhonheimer, 357.


Hedonism comes from the word hedon, which means pleasure. Hedonism refers to a group of ethical systems that hold feelings of pleasure or happiness as the highest and final aim of conduct. Actions which increase the sum of pleasure are thereby constituted right, what increases pain is wrong. It sounds very similar to Utilitarianism only that this theory puts special emphasis on pleasure per se as the gauge of morality. Contemporary hedonists are sometimes classed into egoistic hedonists and altruistic hedonists. They are distinguished by their answer to this statement: Happiness is the end of conduct, but whose happiness? Egoist answers: the happiness of the agent Altruist replies: the happiness of all concerned, or, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". The intrinsic difficulties in creating any decent code of morals on the egoistic principle, together with the destructive criticism that such attempts encountered, led Hedonists to substitute the happiness of all concerned for the happiness of the individual. By adopting the happiness of others as the end, the Hedonist loses his support for his first contention: happiness is the end, that is, every man desires happiness and can desire nothing else. It is obvious that not everybody desires the happiness of everybody else. Another modification was introduced to meet the criticism that, if pleasure is the standard of right and wrong, sensual indulgence is just as good as the noblest form of self-sacrifice. Some of the Hedonists replied that not merely the quantity but also the quality of pleasure is to be taken into account. There are higher and lower pleasures; and the higher are more desirable than the lower. Thus the hedonistic standard is, displaced since another moral valuation is implied. The subjective norm, (pleasurable feeling) is replaced by an objective norm which dictates what the agent ought to pursue. This is the suicide of Hedonism.

Critique of hedonism
Hedonisms fundamental errors and the unanswerable objections lie in the following: (1) It rests on a false psychological analysis. What is true is that pleasure depends on the obtaining of some good. Good is prior to and the cause of the pleasure. The happiness or pleasure of good conduct is a consequence, not a constituent, of the moral quality of the action. (2) It falsely supposes that pleasure is the only motive of action. It supports the fallacy that the pleasurable and the desirable are interchangeable terms. (3) Granting that pleasure and pain constitute the standard of right and wrong, this standard would be utterly impractical. Pleasures are not proportional to one another, nor are pains. Besides no human mind can calculate the quantity of pleasure and pain that will result from a given action. (4) Egoistic Hedonism reduces all benevolence, self-sacrifice, and love of the right to mere selfishness.

60 (5) No general code of morality could be established on the basis of pleasure. Pleasure is essentially a subjective feeling, and what is more pleasurable for one may be less so for another. Hence, on hedonistic grounds, it is evident that there could be no permanently and universally valid dividing line between right and wrong. (6) Hedonism has no ground for moral obligation, no sanction for duty. If I must pursue my own happiness, and if conduct which leads to happiness is good, the worst reproach that can be addressed to me, however base my conduct may be, is that I have made an imprudent choice.

Pragmatism signifies the insistence on usefulness or practical consequences as a test of truth. For pragmatists concepts, judgments, and reasoning processes are not representative of reality. These are merely symbols, and hypotheses devised by man to facilitate the experience of reality. This experience is the true test of real existence. Thus, Pragmatism sets up action, satisfaction of needs, realization in conduct, etc., as the standard of truth. For example, when a person is confronted with the formula "the human soul is immortal", what should the person do? If he is a Pragmatist, he will not be content to weigh the evidence for with the case against immortality. He will work out the consequences, the definite differences, and decide in that way which of the two "works" better. The alternative which works better is true. Pragmatism regards realism as nave.76 Pragmatism is obliged, therefore, to test newlyacquired truth by the standard of truth already in the mind, that is, by personal or individual experience. According to Pragmatism, a concept, therefore, is true if, when we use it as a tool to manipulate or handle our experience, the practical results, are satisfactory. It is true if it functions well; in other words, if it "works". No truth is made and set aside. Experience can be verified provisionally now, but must be verified again tomorrow, when I acquire a new experience. Verificability and not verification is the test of experience. There are no necessary truths, there are no axioms, says Pragmatism, but only postulates. A judgment is true if it functions in such a way as to explain our experiences, and it continues to be true only so long as it does explain our experiences. The apparent self-evidence of axioms is due to a long-established habit: I cannot help thinking that two and two are four because it is a habit of thinking. All truths are, therefore, empirical: they are all "man-made". Our judgments are all personal, in this sense, and based on our own experience, and are subject to the limitations imposed by the habits. Conclusions are valid only within our experience, and should not be carried beyond the region of verifiable experience.


Realism holds that real things, not made by the mind but given in experience, is a standard of truth. Conformity to reality is a test of truth, and lack of conformity is a proof of falseness. In other words, there is truth if what is in the mind conforms to the reality outside the mind, not the other way around.

61 Therefore in the ethical system of the Pragmatist, we are obliged to subscribe to the doctrine of John Stuart Mill that all truth is hypothetical, that "can be" and "cannot be" have reference only to our experience. There may be, in fact, some remote place where two and two are five, and a thing can be and not be at the same time.

Critique of pragmatism
Pragmatism is highly individualistic. Despite the disclaimers of some of its exponents, it sets up the principle, "Man is the measure of all things". For if pragmatism means anything, it means that human consequences, "consequences to you and me", are the test of the meaning and truth of our concepts, judgments, and reasonings. This completely disregards the objectivity of truth and it also disregards the common good since it gives more priority to the individual good and individual judgement. Pragmatism is also nominalistic. This means that it denies the validity of content of universal concepts, and rejects the mere possibility of reality. Nominalism again in turn leads to denying the objective foundations for our ideas and the objective foundations of reality. In the realm of ethics, this leads to relativism. Pragmatism is also, by implication, sensistic, meaning that in describing the function of concepts pragmatism restricts that function to sense-experience. Furthermore, it is idealistic. It makes reality to be co-extensive with experience. Lastly, pragmatism is, in a sense, anarchistic. Discarding logic, it discards principles, and has no substitute for them except individual experience.


Karol Wojtyla's View Of The Human Person
ANDRZEJ SZOSTEK Before all else, as a philosopher Karol Wojtyla is interested in man as a dynamic subject, who is able to fulfill himself by fulfilling acts which correspond to him as a person with regard to their contents and the manner in which they are realized. Thus, we can say that Karol Wojtyla's field of study is philosophical anthropology and ethics. All other problems which he touches upon in his works, especially gnoseological-methodological ones, arise out of, and are subordinated to, anthropological questions. The question of the starting point occupies a special place among these problems, as do methods of inquiry concerning man and the paths of selffulfillment proper to him. Karol Wojtyla realized the importance of these questions and clearly expressed his own methodological standpoint. According to him, both man and morality can be known through experience. As we shall see, the author justifies this thesis by a critique of the tendencies which generally predominate in modern and contemporary philosophy, particularly in ethics.(52) All of this still fails to account for his particular openness to the experience of morality which generated such penetrating observations and analyses. A search for the source of Wojtyla's experiential perspective in his discussions about man should note his rich pastoral experience, especially in his work with youth, as well as his encounter with the mysticism of St. John of the Cross to which he was led while still going by John Tyranouski, a tailor who was a zealous apostle of the interior life.(53) These personal experiences would seem to have led Wojtyla to give form and foundation to his sensitivity to the experience of man and morality and also to have convinced him of the fundamental role which this experience plays in philosophical anthropology and ethics. These experiences, although different, share a similar character and are connected with each other to such an extent that one could say that "the implication of these experiences (i.e., of man and of morality) is mutual and two-fold,(54) because of the strict connection (though not identity) found between their objects. One could thus reflect upon what the general experience of man says about morality and vice versa, what vision of man is revealed by the experience of morality. This second question will be of particular interest to us for it seems that Wojtyla's analysis of the experience of morality brings to light the features characteristic of the human being as a person, and that these features can be known only with difficulty, if at all, through other experiences connected with man. What this analysis shows is the particular bond between the respect which is owed to each person as the one addressed in the subject's activity, on the one hand, and, on the other, the self-fulfillment of the very subject as a person. Wojtyla's inquiries about this object take place fundamentally in the tradition of Thomistic philosophy, although at the same time they seem greatly to enrich this tradition precisely because they are based upon experience, in contrast to the works of many Thomists.

63 The first portion of this presentation will consist in a discussion of Wojtyla's conception of experience. In the second part we will take a closer look at what is characteristic of the experience of morality. In the third part we sill show what important truths about man are revealed by this experience. KAROL WOJTYLA'S CONCEPT OF EXPERIENCE Wojtyla sets forth the postulate that ethics should be based upon its own specific experience by appealing to the situation which exists in contemporary ethics. This situation reflects "two radical tendencies in the theory of science toward which modern and contemporary philosophical thought gravitates."(55) One of these is radical empiricism; this requires that ethics be based upon experience but understands this same experience in such a narrowly "sensualists" manner, that "according to its agenda it refrains from posing the question which is proper to ethics: what is good, what is evil, and why?" and asks only "what in a given individual, in a given society, is considered as being morally good or evil." (56) We could call the second tendency by the name of apriorism, or radical rationalism: "in striving for scientific certainty (this) searches for a starting point in the direct determinative nature of first propositions" which "have their exclusive source in reason and not in experience."(57) Cardinal Wojtyla seeks to unite these divergent systems of ethics by appealing to an integrally conceived experience of morality which lies at the basis of ethics and to its careful explication. In the mind of the author of The Acting Person the appeal to experience is intended, not only to overcome the extremism of Hume's empiricism and Kantian apriorism, but also to harmonize the divergent tendencies which can be observed in the framework of classical philosophy. On the one hand, the Thomistic philosophy of being treats the problematics of morality in too objective a manner at the cost of diminishing the subjective dimension which is so important for a philosophy of morality. On the other hand, the philosophy of consciousness which is represented by Scheler and the other phenomenologists excessively subjectivizes morality by isolating it from its real foundation in the human being.(58) How does Karol Wojtyla understand this experience which he wants to make into a basis for his ethics and philosophical anthropology and the most important criterium for the accuracy of their theses? From the point of view of our interests the following theses of the author are of special importance: a. Experience is an immediate knowledge of a designated area or facts.(59) This statement introduces nothing new into the universally accepted sense of the terms "experience," but rather calls to mind the minimum content in all conceptions of experience. Nevertheless, acknowledgment that an immediate knowledge of such a reality as morality and man is possible, implies a foundation in accordance with which, b. the human mind plays an active role in experience. Moreover, "every human experience is also some primary understanding and, in this manner, it can be the starting point for further understandings."(60) This is not taken here in the sense of "ratiocination," that is, of a rational discourse upon data obtained in an earlier stage of the cognitive process, but in the sense of "intus-legare," i.e., reading out the interior of an experienced reality. By ascribing such a role

64 to the mind in experience, Wojtyla not only radically opposes himself to all extremely empirical conceptions of experience but, as it were, does away with the sharp dividing line between experience and the interpretation of experience. "The interpretation of morality has its roots in experience. When we enter into this interpretation, we penetrate this experience by an understanding which is given to us together with the experience of morality.(61) Also, experience itself, through its distinctive structure points out the direction of its interpretation. c. The interpretation of the experience of man and morality should proceed according to an Aristotelian induction, the extension of which is, in a certain sense, a reduction. The sense of these methods which basically are one and the same lies in a unification of various elements of experience by making clear the reasons common to what appears manifold.(62) These reasons are already present in what is experienced or accessible to the mind which plays an active role in this experience. It does not follow from what has been said that Cardinal Wojtyla wanted to ascribe to reason the function of constituting the very object of experience in order to avoid a deformation of experience in the direction of Kantian idealism. Wojtyla emphasizes that d. experience has an objective character. "Knowledge must go beyond itself, since it is fulfilled not by the truth of its own act /`percipi'/, but by the truth of the transcendental object-that which is or exists by real and objective existence /`esse'/, independently of the act of knowledge." Only by properly respecting the ability of the subject to attain knowledge of an object which is not merely a construct of the subject is it possible to guarantee the realism of the theory we intend to build.(63) The active character of mind in experience is thus the imitative activity proper to knowledge; it is not, however, a creative action.(64) The next thesis is joined more strictly than the foregoing ones with the specific character of the experience of man and morality, namely: e. man and morality can be known both by way of external and internal experience. This twofold path presents us with a unique opportunity in comparison to the way of cognizing objects which belongs exclusively to the external world. Nevertheless, this approach gives rise to a difficult methodological problem.(65) In any case, Wojtyla is convinced that both types of experience, even though they are different, "meet" each other on the ground of the identity of the experienced object, they mutually fulfill each other, and even interpenetrate.(66) The internal experience, however, retains its specific priority. This priority, Wojtyla writes, "occurs however, somehow, through internal experience; it is impossible to catch the specifics of morality anywhere else than in the interior of the person."(67) This unique opportunity, which is the possibility of knowing oneself from within, not merely by the external aspects of one's own life and activity, will play, as we shall see, a particularly important role in Wojtyla's conception of the experience of morality. MORAL VALUE-DIGNITY-CONSCIENCE What, then, is morality experienced in such a specific manner? Wojtyla undertook his most systematic attempt to answer this question in two articles: "The Problem of Experience in

65 Ethics" and "The Problem of the Theory of Morality." These works were intended as the first chapters of a wider study devoted to the conception and methodology of ethics (68). Although the further chapters of this work, which the author had intended to be of a similar rank as The Acting Person are unavailable, the above mentioned articles allow us to grasp clearly enough his thought. Without going too much into the particulars of Wojtyla's argumentations,(69) we should keep in mind that he understands morality to be first of all the value of moral good or evil which belongs to particular acts. Hence he distinguishes the experience of morality conceived in this manner from so-called moral experience, i.e., from particular acts of choice which are understood and lived out in the categories of moral good and evil. Moreover, the question "What is morality?" and the problematics connected with it, point to the theory of morality rather than to ethics.(70) The aim of the latter is to show that, by which acts are morally good or evil, that is, to point out the reasons for, moral value of acts as well as to give an ultimate justification for these reasons, i.e., for moral norms. Since, however, the construction of a theory of morality is the condition for the correlative cultivation of ethics, Wojtyla begins his sketch of the basis of ethics from analyses which are, strictly speaking, meta-ethical. After introducing the matter by way of these qualifying remarks, he goes on to unveil gradually the specifics of moral value. These specifics can be expressed in the following four theses: 1. Moral value draws its binding power from the norm of morality(71) which is man as person together with the dignity which belongs to him. Moral value is differentiated from other kinds of values precisely because it appeals to man's distinctive character as a person. Moral value derives its normative binding power from its essential link with the good of man as a person. "At the basis of morality, and at the same time at its very center, there is found only man as a person. This is the moral good by which he as man becomes good and the moral evil by which he as man becomes evil.(72) 2. Morality value refers directly to act and through act reaches its author. Such a positing of value in act and the necessity of transferring it to a subject spotlights the mark of selftranscendence, a feature which is especially characteristic of the human person. Man appears as one who is able to determine himself by his own acts; he can fulfill or ruin himself. Moral good and evil gives emphasis to the dramatic alternative which is laid in man's hand. "In morality there is contained the proper measure of each man's greatness. By it each man writes his own most internal history, which is most truly his very own."(73) 3. The choice of moral value is essentially a choice of oneself, one's moral profile. Here the peculiar twofold character of the act of the will is manifest; immediately it is directed to some object; in a mediate manner, however, by the moral qualification of the act of willing this object, it expresses and actualizes the fundamental decision o th subject: "I want to be good" or I want to be bad."(74) In this sense, every act of choosing a moral value has an autoteleological character: "Man not only wants good, but he also wants to be good. He either wants or he does not want: the elementary core of morality is contained in this."(75) 4. This choice of moral good and through it the choice "I want to be good" is not optional, but is marked by the obligation to bring it about. This obligation is of a particular rank:

66 it is characterized by an apodicticity proportional to the absolute value of the person: the subject in acting, by his own choice has the opportunity, and thus the duty, to confirm this value by an act. "Obligation indubitably refers to this autoteleology, to the moment o fulfillment or nonfulfillment, which we discover at the root of the reality which is morality."(76) It is impossible not to notice how the logically sequential stages which characterize moral value more and more clearly uncover the dignity of the bearer of moral value, a dignity strictly linked with the personal structure of his being. The critical remarks addressed to Scheler in the above mentioned article "The Problem of the Theory of Morality" can be reduced to one fundamental criticism: Scheler failed to see the essential link between moral value, on the one hand, and man and his activity, on the other. This link shows the foundation of moral values in man himself and explains their specificity. Again, this link through these moral values permits us to encounter man in that which differentiates and distinguishes him from other terrestrial creatures. The normative foundation of values, their reference to act and through act to the person, their special double character as object-oriented and subject-oriented and finally the mark of apodietic obligation--all these show that the proper position of moral value is the theory of "medium quo": by experiencing these, we experience the dignity of the person to which these values point by their entire structure. Is it possible to experience the person and his dignity? Are not both "person" and "dignity" terms which are so wrapped up in various philosophical systems that we would find it impossible to treat them as objects of immediate knowledge? These questions and other difficulties which they imply can be and, in fact, are posed not only by Scheler's followers but also by representatives of the Thomistic tradition.(77) Wojtyla, however, when he speaks about experiencing the person, does not have in mind a full, theoretically developed sense of the term "person," but rather that vision of man which constitutes an experiential basis for all anthropology and cannot be said to belong exclusively to any one system. "The person is a reality far more visible than it would seem from the perspective of pure speculation. That, which from another source might be the result of arduous analyses in the area of metaphysics, possesses its own reality when man is the object of his own experience." (78) Of course, it is necessary to find a perspective in which man is more fully revealed as a person and according to Wojtyla, "the act is a special moment of insight or experience of the person."(79) Similarly, just as the act allows us to get a deep look into the world of the person, so morality, which is first of all the morality of the act, reveals above all the dignity of this person in whose name we are obliged to treat the bearer of this dignity as an end, to act according to his fullest possible development. Obviously, this dignity is rooted in the entire specificity of the person, built as it were upon the set of his characteristics.(80) This does not mean however that we must infer this dignity in a quasi-deductive manner from these characteristics hitherto recognized and understood. Rather, this dignity is seen in a manner proportionate to the difference which we see between the person and other beings. Of course such factors as religion, Weltanschauung, the level of cultural development, etc., indubitably have an influence upon the ability to see the person in his specificity and greatness. These influences are not so great that differences in Weltanschauung and culture would make it impossible to recognize the particular rank of man.

67 "Man has a superior position in relation to all of nature. He stands above all that we encounter in the visible world. This conviction reaches both to the individual and to the human community conceived of in the widest possible sense."(81) The experience of morality seems to reveal this truth most sharply. The entire foregoing introductory analysis of moral value shows that this value and its complex specifics can be understood ultimately only when in it there is seen the manner in which the person "demands" the right to be treated as an end and not in a utilitarian manner. He who does not conceive of these values in such a manner, who respects these values not by reason of the dignity of the person but because they are promulgated by the power of some authority, or only because their observance seems to him to be profitable--such as man demonstrates his own moral immaturity, for he has failed to see that which essentially constitutes moral good or evil. The aforesaid characteristics of the experience of morality, although they have revealed such an important truth about the dignity of the person as the bearer of moral values need to be treated further, specifically as regards the manner in which the subject comes to know these values and is joined with them in action. What does it mean to say that man knows a moral value which is marked by a particular duty? What does it mean to say that the subject is called by this obligation to realize a moral good, through which he will confirm and actualize the good which he himself is as a person? This significant link between cognition and this "calling" can be explained by the fact that man, in a specific way, comes to a realization of the truth about the good: in particular, he has a living experience of the truth about himself as a good--an end which needs to be confirmed by his own appropriate act. This moment of truth about the good" is grasped by an act of judgment, by virtue of which "the person attains the cognitive transcendence in relation to objects which is proper to him."(82) However, and this is one of the most important notions in The Acting Person, it is not only for theoretical knowledge that this moment of truth has so essential a meaning. Acts of the will, too, can be understood only when we see their "reference to truth and their inner dependence on truth."(83) A rational choice must be based on the recognition in the chosen object of the truth about its good, otherwise it would not deserve to be called a rational choice; it would not deserve to be called an act of a person. "The essential condition of choice and the ability to make a choice as such, seems to lie in the specific reference of will to truth, the reference that permeates the intentionality of willing and constitutes what is somehow the inner principle of volition."(84) Thus this judgment about which we have been talking "is not only preconstituted in and by itself through the truth about objects . . . but also makes possible and lays a foundation for that proper relation of the will to objects."(85) The affirmation, the acknowledgment of truth, of the person and his dignity at the level of cognition, is also a summons to affirm this truth by an act of choice, i.e., by an act which in a given situation corresponds to man as a person. In this manner it is shown to what extent "truth is not only essential for the possibility of human knowledge, but is simultaneously the basis for the person's transcendence in the action. For the moment of truth in this respect, or the truth about the moral good, makes of the action what it actually is; it is this moment that gives to the action the authentic form of the "actus personae".(86)

68 The judgment by which a subject recognizes the truth about himself and which also summons the subject to acknowledge this truth by a morally good act is the judgment of conscience. In this judgment there occurs an unusual "self-binding together" of the subject by means of the truth about himself which brings into the full light of day the self-transcendence of the person. This is the truth obtained by an insight into oneself by only I can cognitively grasp myself. In this sense, this truth is untransferable, accessible to no one besides me in all its obviousness, fullness and strength. This is the truth about my inwardness perceived only in an interior cognitive experience; it is the subjective dimension of truth. It is, however, the objective truth about my subjectivity; it is not created by the subject but recognized by him. The above-mentioned objectivity refers no less to the judgment of conscience than to any other kind of knowledge. We should especially emphasize the subject's dependence upon the truth about himself which he recognizes in his conscience, because no one other than myself can be a witness to my fidelity or infidelity to this truth. The higher the price of fidelity to the truth which one sees in the judgment of conscience, the greater the temptation to infidelity. Sometimes an illusory prospect of freeing oneself from the consequences of the truth recognized about oneself (one's dignity) to be very attractive. If however, as mentioned above, freedom "is not realized . . . by subordinating the truth to itself, but by being subordinated to truth," (87) then the "liberation" from the truth not only does not confirm, but all the more fails to liberate the greatness of man--more than as one contemporary herald of freedom would have it. Instead, it deforms man's greatness at its very roots. Disloyalty to the truth about good must lead to enslavement by a false good. Man always tends towards some good in his activity for such is the nature of the will, and when it is carried out an act always shapes its author. Not every act, however, fulfills its author in conformity with the dynamic structure that constitutes the contingent human being and hence "fulfillment is not identical to efficacy," (88) It is this necessary link between the respect for the truth about oneself, one's personal structure and dignity, on the one hand, and the self-fulfillment of the subject, on the other, which generates the judgment of conscience and gives it a stable normative character proportionate to this dignity. The judgment concerns a concrete act; it summons the subject to an act of choosing the known and accepted truth about oneself. This judgment reveals the moral qualification which so profoundly expresses what is essential to the person, that "the person's true fulfillment occurs not so much through the act itself as through the moral goodness of this act." (89) Thus the essential "function of conscience . . . is to describe the true good in the act and to create obligation along with it."(90) In conscience there occurs "this special link of truth with obligation, which makes its appearance in the form of the normative strength of the truth. (91) In this same act of conscience, normative truth is recognized and assigned. Dignity belongs so essentially to the full truth about man that it is impossible to talk about knowing man as man if we fail to take into account the obvious imperative to treat him as the end of every activity, to treat him as a being who, by reason of his own autoteleology, cannot be subordinated to other ends. This imperative is indeed included in our knowledge of man. LOVE - THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PERSON Does the subject know himself only in such way that the truth about oneself is conceived of as a normative truth, which marks all one's acts by an apodietic obligation of self-fulfillment?

69 Indubitable, as has been mentioned, I am in a position to know myself in an interior and profound manner, which I cannot do as regards any other person. Since, however, the act of conscience is an act of reason, just as in every other act wherein the mind knows extra-sensible reality, it grasps that which is general in the known concrete thing. Here, in the rationality of moral cognition, lies the source of the "universalizability" of all moral norms. On this account these norms can be applied to every situation covered by a given moral norm, as well as to every subject who is found in this situation. This concerns also those specifics of the knowledge of the person in respect to his dignity which are of particular interest to us here: if my dignity obliges me to carry out acts which further my self-fulfillment, then it is the same when my activity concerns other persons who are characterized by this same dignity.(92) Here, the ability of man to find the fundamental identity of the internal and external experience of man takes on a special significance. Wojtyla does not go into the epistemological problems connected with the possibility of knowing the other "I", but is content with the experientially given, evident proposition that one is in position to recognize the personal structure of a subject similar to one's own in other persons, and thus can recognize a dignity similar to one's own in a similarly normative way. In characterizing the interpersonal dimension of community, he notes that "this dimension can be reduced to the treatment, i.e., also to the actual experience of "the other as oneself," . . . In order to specify more fully this dimension of community proper to the interpersonal relations of "I-Thou", we must say that it is in these relations that there occurs the mutual revelation of man in his personal subjectivity . . . In this subjective structure, the "Thou" as a `second I' represents his own transcendence and his own tendency to self-fulfillment."(93) On this account "this dimension is both a fact and a postulate; it possesses metaphysical and normative (ethical) meaning."(94) Wojtyla's previous inquiries concerning the experience of morality did not reveal so clearly the normative dimension of reference to other persons, because the reductive method of analyzing this experience which the author had adopted looked for the roots of moral values which are based in the subject of activity. Moreover, (and this is indicated by his emphasis upon the priority of internal experience), he thinks that the prerequisite for discovering personal subjectivity and dignity in others is, at least to a certain degree, its discovery in oneself. The strength and effectiveness of this particular "shifting of gears" between love of oneself and love of neighbor, which is contained in the biblical precept "love your neighbor as yourself", depends essentially upon whether a man has discovered himself as being worthy of love, and if so, how deeply he appreciates this. The "Golden Rule" which Christ set forth in his "Sermon on the Mount" is simply the extension of such an interpretation of the precept of love of one's neighbor. The rule "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (95) will only be properly applicable when the one who uses it truly understands himself, his own essential needs and justifiable claims. Thus, it is not strange that in this introductory interpretation of the experience of morality other persons remained, as it were, in the shadow of the person-subject. When, however, the author of Love and Responsibility takes up directly the problem of love between two persons, he begins by stressing the moral rank of the one to whom the love is addressed. The first heading of this book is entitled "The Person as the Subject and Object of Action,"(96) and the analysis of the word "use" which we find in the first chapter is intended to clarify the personalistic norm. Its negative formulation is: "The person is the kind of-good-which does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use and as such as `means to an end'. Its positive formulation is: "The

70 person is a good toward which the only proper and adequate attitude is love." (97) This categorically binding norm of conduct is justified by the dignity of the person-object and by his internal teleology which the subject should perceive just as he ought to perceive his own dignity and his own autoteleology which explains the normative character of moral values. At this stage of explication of the experience of morality we see a similarity to what has been said before; he who bases his norms of reference to other persons upon some other foundation than the dignity of the person bears witness to his serious moral immaturity. Utilitarianism is an example of such immaturity, in opposition to which Wojtyla formulates the personalitic norm. Generally speaking this is eudamonism, which sees the reason for the moral goodness of an act exclusively in its usefulness in the attainment of the subject's happiness. Of course, man should strive for his own happiness, understood as the fullness of being. But this is not above all because the structure of his acts of will determines him to this, by reason of the dignity of his own person which needs to be confirmed by an appropriate act. This same reason lies at the basis of the obligation to affirm other persons. That someone should not go beyond concern for his own self would seem to bear witness, not only to the fact that he does not set the personal dignity of others, but that he does not see his own specificity and his own greatness. The man who has not perceived the essential and morally important identity between himself and other persons not only fails to understand others, but does not and is even unable to understand himself. The discovery that "to each person belongs a respect proportional to his dignity" constitutes the next stage in the explication of the experience of morality. This discovery is not, however, the final stage. Love, which is opposed to the attitude of use which degrades the person, is owed to the person not merely because of his dignity but because it fulfills the subject of love in the most profound manner, since it corresponds most deeply to him as a person. In a certain way, a person is more himself, the more he is for others. Only in love--which is more ample to the degree that it is a "giving of oneself"--that the structure of selfdetermination characteristic of the person finds its proper place. If one could say so, man "possesses himself" in order that he may "give himself": the more completely he is as a person, the more he will desire and be able to give of himself as a gift. This gift, in turn, if accepted and reciprocated according to the rank of the person, constitutes the fullest form of the life of the sons: communio personarum(98) This is why the obligation of behaving towards each person in a spirit of love does not lead to a "collision of interests" on the part of those to whom the love is addressed. Such a collision would take place if the person were to be conceived of as a being for himself, who necessarily subordinates everything and everybody to his own benefit. Humans are conceived in such a manner by J.S. Sartre for whom it followed that "Hell is other people." Man seems to be conceived in this manner by the entire liberal tradition, including the particular form presented by Marxism, which treats the other man as a rival, either individual or class. Wojtyla, on the other hand, reveals the dimension of human participation. By this he understands "a property of the person himself, an internal and homogenic property which is decisive in that by being and acting `together with the other' the person is being and acting as a person . . . one realizes an act and fulfills oneself in it."(99) The analysis of participation arising from the entire perspective of

71 the vision of man sketched out in The Acting Person shows how the reference to others as neighbors and not as rivals has an essentially personalistic meaning. "The reference system of `neighbor,' as the author of The Acting Person describes it, is contained in Sacred Scriptures and so, on this account, is deeply rooted in the whole of Christian culture. At the same time, in practice--most sharply perhaps in political-social practice--the reference system of `rival' is dominant. We must constantly and diligently purify the way we see man in such a way as to be able to perceive to what an extent man is a person and fulfills himself as a person, along with the entire structure of self-determination which is proper to him. This can be done only through the "reference system of `neighbor'. Wojtyla's analyses concerning participation and its opposite, alienation, serve this aim. Alienation as the antithesis of participation denotes . . . the limitation or annihilation of all by which man is for man another `I'. This threatens the experience of the truth of humanity, the essential value of the person in the human `Thou'. The `I' will remain out off and without contact and thus will remain undiscovered in full for oneself. Further, in interhuman relations the `neighbor' disappears and there remains instead the `other,' the `stranger,' or even the `enemy.'(100) This truth about man is revealed in the clearest way by the experience of morality as seen in its progressive stages. The first stage of this application is to show the personal dignity of the subject. This dignity explains the normative character of moral values. The next stage is to reveal the dignity of the person-object. This revelation is possible thanks to the specificity of the judgment of conscience. The third and final stage is to uncover the most profound dimension of the person's fulfillment, which is the dimension of love. These truths about man appear in the context of other truths about him. The human being is distinct from other terrestrial beings because he is entirely different. Moreover, the affirmation which is due to the person can be realized only through an act which respects the whole truth about man. It is not enough to formulate a personalistic norm and defend it against the abovementioned eudaimonistic deformation, although this purpose is still important. We must moreover realize the danger of not taking account the objective, given truth about the nature of the human person and the ways of attaining his fullness which are proper to him. If the truth is ignored, the result will be a blow against man and his good which will be hidden behind euphemistically sounding personalistic or humanistic slogans. That is why this truth about man is so important, a truth witnessed especially by the experience of morality. It would be difficult to put it more concisely than does this citation from the Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et spes," no. 24, to which Wojtyla often refers "Man, being the only creature on earth which God wills for his own sake, cannot find himself fully except by a disinterested gift of his very self".
The Catholic University of Lublin Lublin, Poland Taken from: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND CONTEMPORARY CHANGE SERIES IVA. EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE, VOLUME 1 THE PHILOSOPHY OF PERSON: Solidarity and Cultural Creativity, Polish Philosophical Studies I Edited by:, JZEF TISCHNER, J.M. YCISKI, GEORGE F. McLEAN From the website:


Persons Are Unrepeatable JOHN F. CROSBY
ABSTRACT: We speak of individual animals, looking upon them simply as single specimens of a particular animal species. And this definition suffices. But it is not enough to define a man as an individual of the species Homo sapiens. And why not? Because each human being is more than just an instance of the human kind; we do not know a human being as person if we know him only in terms of that which is common to all human beings.

We know how dangerous it is to think of human beings in terms of general types or patterns. We think of someone as a typical Serb, a typical woman, a typical adolescent. If we think that this is all there is to them, that there is nothing else of significance about them besides being a typical this or that, then we lose sight of them as persons. We have only to consider the point of view of people who are viewed through the lens of general types and patterns; they feel ignored as persons. Just when I think someone is taking a personal interest in me, I painfully realize that the interest is based only on my being a typical something or other. This means that the one taking the interest in me would take the same interest in any other equally typical man or woman, and so his interest is not really in me as a person. In other words, I am replaceable in his eyes by any other equally good instance of the type that interests him. This is why I feel offended: I know that as a person I am in fact more than just a replaceable instance of a type. There are, of course, beings that are nothing more than replaceable instances of a type. Take, for example, the thousands of copies of each issue of Lay Witness. Each is only an instance of a given issue of the magazine. If you lose the copy that came in the mail you can completely recover your loss by getting another copy; you will find everything in the second copy that you had looked for in the first. Any one copy completely replaces any other copy of a given issue. With persons it is just the opposite: No person is replaceable by any other, because no person exists in the first place as a mere instance or specimen of a type or pattern. This amazing irreplaceability, or unrepeatability, lies at the heart of what it is to be a person. This truth receives particular attention in the personalism of Pope John Paul II. It is closely connected with the interiority of persons and also with each person being his or her own end, aspects of personhood discussed in previous installments. Pope John Paul II writes: We speak of individual animals, looking upon them simply as single specimens of a particular animal species. And this definition suffices. But it is not enough to define a man as an individual of the species Homo sapiens. And why not? Because each human being is more than just an instance of the human kind; we do not know a human being as person if we know him only in terms of that which is common to all human beings. The Holy Father continues: The term "person" has been coined to signify that a man cannot be wholly contained within the concept "individual member of the species," but that there is something more to him, a

73 particular richness and perfection in the manner of his being, which can only be brought out by the use of the word "person." This "something more" is what makes each person unrepeatably himself or herself. Let us bring in here the great philosophical question of whether an individual human being in any sense lives on after death. Now, if each were just a specimen of the human kind, if this were the whole truth about each, then there would be no point in each individual living on; an unending succession of different individuals would provide all the continuity of existence that could be desired. After all, if human beings were repeatable, the ongoing existence of any one individual is not really necessary. It is only because each human being is more than an instance of the human kind or a mere specimen of any particular type or quality - but rather a person, unrepeatably himself or herself that each individual human being ought to exist forever. If a person were to go out of existence altogether, then something would be lost to the world that could never be recovered in any subsequent person. Humanity would suffer an irretrievable loss. This loss is averted only if there is not an unending succession of human beings, but the continued existence of each individual human person. Here is a good way of recognizing this mysterious unrepeatability of each human person. The more you come to know and love some person, the less you find yourself able to express what it is that you know and love. You find something in the other that is unutterable, ineffable, unspeakable. You can describe well enough the various qualities of the other, the types and kinds that he falls under, but there is something else, something deeper in the other that escapes your expressive and descriptive powers. You see and experience this something else as you come to know and love the other as person, but you cannot render it in clear concepts, and you just stammer when you try. What you are encountering is precisely the other as unrepeatable person. The problem is that our language is only suited to expressing properties that are common to many; it fails us when we try to give expression to that which is unrepeatably some person's own. A famous French writer once said: "If I am entreated to say why I loved him, I feel that this cannot be expressed except by answering, 'Because it was he, because it was I.'" This is, of course, not much of an answer to the question why I love someone, but it's all we can say when we reach beyond the genus and species of the other, beyond all the qualities he has, beyond all the stereotypes that he fits, all the kinds that he belongs to, all the classes that he can be gathered into, and reach for the unrepeatable person that he is. Here we have the reason for the awe that Pope John Paul II feels before human persons, for the way he stresses each human person, none excluded, when he speaks of personal dignity. It all comes from his strong sense of the unrepeatability of each person. As everyone knows, Pope John Paul II has a particular concern for those who suffer, for the helpless, for the unborn. Whereas the world sees little in these people, since it is looking for outstanding instances of human qualities, Pope John Paul II bends down with the mind of Christ to each of them, recognizing the unrepeatable person in each of them.

74 Let us glance back at the second installment, where we explained why each person is his or her own end and is never rightly used as an instrumental means. This is obviously closely akin to being unrepeatable. It makes little difference whether you violate persons by using them in a purely instrumental way, or by treating them as replaceable specimens. Sometimes these two ways of violating persons seem to coincide. For example, suppose an employer meets with someone applying for a job; if he sees the applicant only in terms of the job description, that is, only as a good or bad specimen of the job description, if he acknowledges nothing more in the applicant, then he is at one and the same time treating the applicant as replaceable and using the applicant as a mere means for the functioning of his enterprise. He is failing to treat the applicant as one who is his own end and also as one who is an unrepeatable person. These are simply two aspects of what it is to be a person. We can also cast a glance back at the interiority of persons. Recall how we distinguished between looking at someone from the outside and looking at someone from the inside. Well, as long as we look from the outside, talking about him in the third person, seeing him as an object, we tend to see him in terms of qualities that he has in common with many others. But as soon as we change perspectives and realize that this person has his own hopes and fears and sufferings, as soon as we practice a certain empathy toward him, enter into his interiority, and understand him when he says "I," then we see him as unrepeatable person. If the employer interviewing the applicant will only take a little interest in how the applicant experiences the world, a little interest in what makes him anxious and what makes him happy, he will begin to see the candidate as person. By being sensitive to the applicant's interiority, the employer begins to encounter him as unrepeatable person. Pope John Paul II has no intention of belittling our common human nature. Through our common nature we exist in a profound solidarity with one another. As Christians, we believe that human nature is the channel through which the redemptive work of Christ is communicated to us. Christ restored human nature in Himself, and we can be restored for the very reason that we share human nature with Him. Pope John Paul II affirms all of this in its place, but he also affirms that as persons we are never mere instances or specimens of this common nature, for persons are truly unrepeatable.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Crosby, John F. "Persons Are Unrepeatable." Lay Witness (May, 2000). THE AUTHOR John F. Crosby is the chairman of the Philosophy Department at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Dr. Crosby is also a memeber of CUF's (Catholics United for the Faith) board of directors.

The Revenge of Conscience

75 Copyright (c) 1998 First Things 84 (June/July 1998): 21-27. Things are getting worse very quickly now. The list of what we are required to approve is growing ever longer. Consider just the domain of sexual practice. First we were to approve sex before marriage, then without marriage, now against marriage. First with one, then with a series, now with a crowd. First with the other sex, then with the same. First between adults, then between children, then between adults and children. The last item has not been added yet, but will be soon: you can tell from the change in language, just as you can tell the approach of winter from the change in the color of leaves. As any sin passes through its stages from temptation, to toleration, to approval, its name is first euphemized, then avoided, then forgotten. A colleague tells me that some of his fellow legal scholars call child molestation "intergenerational intimacy": thats euphemism. A good-hearted editor tried to talk me out of using the term "sodomy": thats avoidance. My students dont know the word "fornication" at all: thats forgetfulness. The pattern is repeated in the house of death. First we were to approve of killing unborn babies, then babies in process of birth; next came newborns with physical defects, now newborns in perfect health. Nobel-prize laureate James Watson proposes that parents of newborns be granted a grace period during which they may have their babies killed, and in 1994 a committee of the American Medical Association proposed harvesting organs from some sick babies even before they die. First we were to approve of suicide, then to approve of assisting it. Now we are to approve of a requirement to assist it, for, as Ernest van den Haag has argued, it is "unwarranted" for doctors not to kill patients who seek death. First we were to approve of killing the sick and unconscious, then of killing the conscious and consenting. Now we are to approve of killing the conscious and protesting, for in the United States, doctors starved and dehydrated stroke patient Marjorie Nighbert to death despite her pleading "Im hungry," "Im thirsty," "Please feed me," and "I want food." Such cases are only to be expected when food and water are now often classified as optional treatments rather than humane care; we have not long to go before joining the Netherlands, where involuntary euthanasia is common. Dutch physician and author Bert Keizer has described his response when a nursing home resident choked on her food: he shot her full of morphine and waited for her to die. Such a deed by a doctor in the land that resisted the Nazis. Why do things get worse so fast? Of course we have names for the process, like "collapse," "decay," and "slippery slope." By conjuring imagesa stricken house, a gangrenous limb, a sliding talusthey make us feel we understand. Now, I am no enemy to word-pictures, but a civilization is not really a house, a limb, or a heap of rocks; it cannot literally fall in, rot, or skid out from underfoot. Images can only illustrate an explanation; they cannot substitute for one. So why do things get worse so fast? It would be well to know, in case the process can be arrested. The usual explanation is that conscience is weakened by neglect. Once a wrong is done, the next wrong comes more easily. On this view conscience is mainly a restraint, a resistance, a passive barrier. It doesnt so much drive us on as hold us back, and when persistently attacked, the restraining wall gets thinner and thinner and finally disappears. Often this explanation is combined with another: that conscience comes from culture, that it is built up in us from outside. In this view the heart is malleable. We dont clearly know what is right and wrong, and when our

76 teachers change the lessons, our consciences change their contents. What once we deemed wrong, we deem right; what once we deemed right, we deem wrong. There is something to these explanations, but neither can account for the sheer dynamism of wickednessfor the fact that we arent gently wafted into the abyss but violently propel ourselves into it. Nor, as I will show, can either one account for the peculiar quality of our present moral confusion. I suggest a different explanation. Conscience is not a passive barrier but an active force; though it can hold us back, it can also drive us on. Moreover, conscience comes not from without but from within: though culture can trim the fringes, the core cannot be changed. The reason things get worse so fast must somehow lie not in the weakness of conscience but in its strength, not in its shapelessness but in its shape.

Whether paradoxical or not, the view of conscience I defend is nothing new; its roots are ancient. In one of the tragedies of Sophocles, the woman Antigone seeks to give her dead brother a proper burial, but is forbidden by the king because her brother was an enemy of the state. She replies to the tyrant that there is another law higher than the states, and that she will follow it because of its divine authority. Not even the king may require anyone to violate it. Moreover, it requires not only forbearance from evil but active pursuit of the good: in this case, doing the honors for her brother. Antigones claim that this higher law has divine authority can easily be misunderstood, because the Greeks did not have a tradition of verbal revelation. The mythical hero Perseus had never climbed any Mount Sinai; the fabled god Zeus had never announced any Ten Commandments. So, although the law of which Antigone speaks somehow has divine authority, she has not learned it by reading something like a Bible, with moral rules delivered by the gods. Nor is she merely voicing the customs of the tribeat least not if we are to believe Aristotle, who seems a safer authority on the Greeks than our contemporary skeptics. Instead she seems to be speaking of principles that everyone with a normal mind knows by means of conscience. She seems to be speaking of a law written on the heartof what philosophers would later call the natural law. Now by contrast with the pagan Greeks, Jews and Christians do have a tradition of verbal revelation. Moses did climb the mountain, God did announce the commandments. One might think, then, that Jews and Christians wouldnt have a natural law tradition because they wouldnt need it. But just the opposite is true. The idea of a law written on the heart is far stronger and more consistent among Jews, and especially Christians, than it was among the pagans. In fact, the very phrase "law written on the heart" is biblical; it comes from the New Testament book of Romans. Judaism calls the natural law the Noahide Commandments because of a rabbinic legend that God had given certain general rules to all the descendants of Noahthat is, all human beingslong before he made His special covenant with the descendants of Abraham. In similar fashion, Christianity distinguishes between "general revelation," which every human being receives, and "special revelation," which is transmitted by witnesses and recorded only in the

77 Bible. General revelation makes us aware of Gods existence and requirements so that we cant help knowing that we have a problem with sin. Special revelation goes further by telling us how to solve that problem. The natural law is unconsciously presupposedeven when consciously deniedby modern secular thinkers, too. We can see the presupposition at work whenever we listen in on ethical debate. Consider, for example, the secular ethic of utilitarianism, which holds that the morally right action is always the one that brings about the greatest possible total happiness. Arguments against utilitarianism by other secularists often proceed by showing that the doctrine yields conclusions contrary to our most deeply held moral intuitions. For instance, it isnt hard to imagine circumstances in which murdering an innocent man might make all the others much happier than they were before. Utilitarianism, seeking the greatest possible total happiness, would require us to murder the fellow; nevertheless we dont, because we perceive that murder is plain wrong. So instead of discarding the man, we discard the theory. Here is the point: such an argument against utilitarianism stakes everything on a pre-philosophical intuition about the heinousness of murder. Unless there is a law written on the heart, it is hard to imagine where this intuition comes from. The best short summary of the traditional, natural law understanding of conscience was given by Thomas Aquinas when he said that the core principles of the moral law are the same for all "both as to rectitude and as to knowledge"in other words, that they are not only right for all but known to all. Nor is it true, as some suppose, that he was referring only to such formal principles as "good is to be done," for he speaks for the greater part of the tradition when he expressly includes such precepts as "Honor thy father and thy mother," "Thou shalt not kill," and "Thou shalt not steal." These, he says, are matters which "the natural reason of every man, of its own accord and at once, judges to be done or not to be done." To be sure, not every moral principle is part of the core, but all moral principles are at least derived from it, if not by pure deduction (killing is wrong and poison kills, so poisoning is wrong), then with the help of prudence (wrongdoers should be punished, but the appropriate punishment depends on circumstances). Our knowledge of derived principles such as "Rise up before the hoary head" may be weakened by neglect and erased by culture, but our knowledge of the core principles is ineffaceable. These are the laws we cant not know. Ranged against this view are two others. One simply denies that the core principles are right for all; the other admits they are right for all, but denies they are known to all. The former, of course, is relativism. I call the latter mere moral realismwith emphasis on "mere" because natural law is realistic, too, but more so. Not much need be said here about relativism. It is not an explanation of our decline, but a symptom of it. The reason it cannot be an explanation is that it finds nothing to explain. To the question "Why do things get worse so fast?" it can only return "They dont get worse, only different." Mere moral realism is a much more plausible opponent, because by admitting the moral law it acknowledges the problem. Things are getting worse quicklyplainly because there isnt anything we "cant not know." Everything in conscience can be weakened by neglect and erased

78 by culture. Now if mere moral realists are right, then although the problem of moral decline may begin in volition, it dwells in cognition: it may begin as a defect of will, but ends as a defect of knowledge. We may have started by neglecting what we knew, but we have now gone so far that we really dont know it any more. What is the result? That our contemporary ignorance of right and wrong is genuine. We really dont know the truth, but we are honestly searching for it trying to see on a foggy nightdoing the best that we can. In a sense, we are blameless for our deeds, for we dont know any better. All this sounds persuasive, yet it is precisely what the older tradition, the natural law tradition, denies. We do know better; we are not doing the best we can. The problem of moral decline is volitional, not cognitive; it has little to do with knowledge. By and large we do know right from wrong, but wish we didnt. We only make believe we are searching for truthso that we can do wrong, condone wrong, or suppress our remorse for having done wrong in the past. If the traditional view is true, then our decline is owed not to moral ignorance but to moral suppression. We arent untutored, but "in denial." We dont lack moral knowledge; we hold it down.

Offhand it seems as though believing in a law we "cant not know" would make it harder, not easier, to explain why things are so quickly getting worse. If the moral law really is carved in the heart, wouldnt it be hard to ignore? On the other hand, if it is merely penciled in as the mere moral realists saywell! But this is merely picture thinking again. Carving and penciling are but metaphors, and more than metaphors are necessary to show why the suppression of conscience is more violent and explosive than its mere weakening would be. First let us consider a few facts that ought to arouse our suspicionfacts about the precise kind of moral confusion we suffer, or say we suffer. Consider this tissue of contradictions: Most who call abortion wrong call it killing. Most who call it killing say it kills a baby. Most who call it killing a baby decline to prohibit it altogether. Most who decline to prohibit it think it should be restricted. More and more people favor restrictions. Yet greater and greater numbers of people have had or have been involved in abortions. Or this one: Most adults are worried about teenage sex. Yet rather than telling kids to wait until marriage, most tell kids to wait until they are "older," as we are. Most say that premarital sex between consenting adults is a normal expression of natural desires. Yet hardly any are comfortable telling anyone, especially their own children, how many people they have slept with themselves. Or this one: Accessories to suicide often write about the act; they produce page after page to show why it is right. Yet a large part of what they write about is guilt. Author George E.

79 Delury, jailed for poisoning and suffocating his wife, says in his written account of the affair that his guilt feelings were so strong they were "almost physical." As to the first example, if abortion kills a baby then it ought to be banned to everyone; why allow it? But if it doesnt kill a baby it is hard to see why we should be uneasy about it at all; why restrict it? We restrict what we allow because we know it is wrong but dont want to give it up; we feed our hearts scraps in hopes of hushing them, as cooks quiet their kitchen puppies. As to the second example, sexual promiscuity has exactly the same bad consequences among adults as it has among teenagers. But if it is just an innocent pleasure, then why not talk it up? Swinging is no longer a novelty; the sexual revolution is now gray with age. If shame persists, the only possible explanation is that guilt persists as well. The third example speaks for itself. Delury calls the very strength of his feelings a proof that they did not express "moral" guilt, merely the "dissonance" resulting from violation of an instinctual block inherited from our primate ancestors. We might paraphrase his theory, "the stronger the guilt, the less it matters." Clearly, whatever our problem may be, it isnt that conscience is weak. We may be confused, but we arent confused that way. It isnt that we dont know the truth, but that we tell ourselves something different.

If the law written on the heart can be repressed, then we cannot count on it to restrain us from doing wrong; that much is obvious. I have made the more paradoxical claim that repressing it hurls us into further wrong. Holding conscience down doesnt deprive it of its force; it merely distorts and redirects that force. We are speaking of something less like the erosion of an earthen dike so that it fails to hold the water back, than like the compression of a powerful spring so that it buckles to the side. Here is how it works. Guilt, guilty knowledge, and guilty feelings are not the same thing; men and women can have the knowledge without the feelings, and they can have the feelings without the fact. Even when suppressed, however, the knowledge of guilt always produces certain objective needs, which make their own demand for satisfaction irrespective of the state of the feelings. These needs include confession, atonement, reconciliation, and justification. Now when guilt is acknowledged, the guilty deed can be repented so that these four needs can be genuinely satisfied. But when the guilty knowledge is suppressed, they can only be displaced. That is what generates the impulse to further wrong. Taking the four needs one by one, lets see how this happens. The need to confess arises from transgression against what we know, at some level, to be truth. I have already commented on the tendency of accessories to suicide to write about their acts. Besides George Delury, who killed his wife, we may mention Timothy E. Quill, who

80 prescribed lethal pills for his patient, and Andrew Solomon, who participated in the death of his mother. Solomon, for instance, writes in the New Yorker that "the act of speaking or writing about your involvement is, inevitably, a plea for absolution." Many readers will remember the full-page signature advertisements feminists took out in the early days of the abortion movement, telling the world that they had killed their own unborn children. At first it seems baffling that the sacrament of confession can be inverted to serve the ends of advocacy. Only by recognizing the power of suppressed conscience can this paradox be understood. The need to atone arises from the knowledge of a debt that must somehow be paid. One would think such knowledge would always lead directly to repentance, but the counselors whom I have interviewed tell a different story. One woman learned during her pregnancy that her husband had been unfaithful to her. He wanted the child, so to punish him for betrayal she had an abortion. The trauma of killing was even greater than the trauma of his treachery, because this time she was to blame. What was her response? She aborted the next child, too; in her words, "I wanted to be able to hate myself more for what I did to the first baby." By trying to atone without repenting, she was driven to repeat the sin. The need for reconciliation arises from the fact that guilt cuts us off from God and man. Without repentance, intimacy must be simulated precisely by sharing with others in the guilty act. Leo Tolstoy knew this. In Anna Karenina there comes a time when the lovers mutual guiltiness is their only remaining bond. But the phenomenon is hardly restricted to cases of marital infidelity. Andrew Solomon says that he, his brothers, and his father are united by the "weird legacy" of their implication in his mothers death, and quotes a nurse who participated in her own mothers death as telling him, "I know some people will have trouble with my saying this but it was the most intimate time Ive ever had with anyone." Herbert Hendin comments in a book on the Dutch affair with euthanasia, "The feeling that participation in death permits an intimacy that they are otherwise unable to achieve permeates euthanasia stories and draws patients and doctors to euthanasia." And no wonder. Violation of a basic human bond is so terrible that the burdened conscience must instantly establish an abnormal one to compensate; the very gravity of the transgression invests the new bond with a sense of profound significance. Naturally some will find it attractive. The reconciliation need has a public dimension, too. Isolated from the community of moral judgment, transgressors strive to gather a substitute around themselves. They dont sin privately; they recruit. The more ambitious among them go further. Refusing to go to the mountain, they require the mountain to come to them: society must be transformed so that it no longer stands in awful judgment. So it is that they change the laws, infiltrate the schools, and create intrusive social-welfare bureaucracies. Finally we come to the need for justification, which requires more detailed attention. Unhooked from justice, justification becomes rationalization, which is a more dangerous game than it seems. The problem is that the ordinances written on the heart all hang together. They depend on each other in such a way that we cannot suppress one except by rearranging all the others. A few cases will be sufficient to show how this happens.

81 Consider sexual promiscuity. The official line is that modern people dont take sex outside marriage seriously any longer; mere moral realists say this is because we no longer realize the wrong of it. I maintain that we do know it is wrong but pretend that we dont. Of course one must be careful to distinguish between the core laws of sex, the ones we cant not know, and the derived ones, which we can not know. For example, though true and reasonable, the superiority of monogamous to polygamous marriage is probably not part of the core. On the other hand, no human society has ever held that the sexual powers may be exercised by anyone with anyone, and the recognized norm is a durable and culturally protected covenant between man and woman with the intention of procreation. Casual shack-ups and one-night stands dont qualify. Because we cant not know that sex belongs with marriage, when we separate them we cover our guilty knowledge with rationalizations. In any particular culture, particular rationalizations may be just as strongly protected as marriage; the difference is that while the rationalizations vary from culture to culture, the core does not. At least in our culture, such sexual self-deceptions are more common among women than men. I dont think this is because the female conscience is stronger (or weaker) than the male. However, sex outside marriage exposes the woman to greater risk, so whereas the man must fool only his conscience, she must fool both her conscience and her self-interest. If she does insist on doing wrong, she has twice as much reason to rationalize. One common rationalization is to say "No" while acting "Yes" in order to tell oneself afterward "I didnt go along." William Gairdner reports that according to one rape crisis counselor, many of the women who call her do so not to report that they have been raped, but to ask whether they were raped. If they have to ask, of course, they probably havent been; they are merely dealing with their ambivalence by throwing the blame for their decisions on their partners. But this is a serious matter. Denial leads to the further wrong of false witness. Another tactic is inventing private definitions of marriage. Quite a few people "think of themselves as married" although they have no covenant at all; some even fortify the delusion with "moving-in ceremonies" featuring happy words without promises. Unfortunately, people who "think of themselves as married" not only refuse the obligations of real marriage but demand all of its cultural privileges; because rationalization is so much work, they require other people to support them in it. Such demands make the cultural protection of real marriage more difficult. Yet another ruse is to admit that sex belongs with marriage but to fudge the nature of the connection. By this reasoning I tell myself that sex is okay because I am going to marry my partner, because I want my partner to marry me, or because I have to find out if we could be happy married. An even more dangerous fudge is to divide the form of marriage from its substanceto say "we dont need promises because were in love." The implication, of course, is that those who do need promises love impurely; that those who dont marry are more truly married than those who do. This last rationalization is even more difficult to maintain than most. Love, after all, is a permanent and unqualified commitment to the true good of the other person, and the native

82 tongue of commitment is precisely promises. To work, therefore, this ruse requires another: having deceived oneself about the nature of marriage, one must now deceive oneself about the nature of love. The usual way of doing so is to mix up love with the romantic feelings that characteristically accompany it, and call them "intimacy." If only we have these feelings, we tell ourselves, we may have sex. That is to say, we may have sexif we feel like it. Here is where things really become interesting, because if the criterion of being as-goodas-married is sexual feelings, then obviously nobody who has sexual feelings may be prevented from marrying. So homosexuals must also be able to "marry"; their unions, too, should have cultural protection. At this point suppressed conscience strikes another blow, reminding us that marriage is linked with procreation. But now we are in a box. We cannot say "therefore homosexuals cannot marry," because that would strike against the whole teetering structure of rationalizations. Therefore we decree that having been made marriageable, homosexuals must be made procreative; the barren field must seem to bloom. There is, after all, artificial insemination. And there is adoption. So it comes to pass that children are given as a right to those from whom they were once protected as a duty. The normalization of perversion is complete.

When ordinary rationalization fails, people revert to other modes of suppression. We often see this when an unmarried young woman becomes pregnant. Suddenly her conscience discovers itself; though she was not ashamed to lift her skirts, she is suddenly ashamed to show her swelling belly. What can she do? Well, she can have an abortion; she can revert to the mode of suppression called "getting rid of the evidence." Once again conscience multiplies transgressions. But she finds that the new transgression is no solution to the old one; in fact now she has something even more difficult to rationalize. Think what is necessary to justify abortion. Because we cant not know that it is wrong to deliberately kill human beings, there are only four options. We must deny that the act is deliberate, deny that it kills, deny that its victims are human, or deny that wrong must not be done. The last option is literally nonsense. That something must not be done is what it means for it to be wrong; to deny that wrong may not be done is merely to say "wrong is not wrong," or "what must not be done may be done." The first option is hardly promising either. Abortion does not just happen; it must be performed. Its proponents not only admit there is a "choice," they boast of it. As to the second option, if it was ever promising, it is no longer. Millions of women have viewed sonograms of their babies kicking, sucking their thumbs, and turning somersaults; whatever these little ones are, they are busily alive. Even most feminists have given up calling the baby a "blood clot" or describing abortion as the "extraction of menses." The only option even barely left is number three: to deny the humanity of the victims. It is at this point that the machinery slips out of control. For the only way to make option three work is to ignore biological nature, which tells us that from conception onward the child is as human as you or me (does anyone imagine that a dog is growing in there?)and invent another criterion of humanity, one that makes it a matter of degree. Some of us must turn out more human, others less. This is a dicey business even for abortionists. It hardly needs to be said that

83 no one has been able to come up with a criterion that makes babies in the womb less human but leaves everyone else as he was; the teeth of the moral gears are too finely set for that. Consider, for instance, the criteria of "personhood" and "deliberative rationality." According to the former, one is more or less human according to whether he is more or less a person; according to the latter, he is more or less a person according to whether he is more or less able to act with mature and thoughtful purpose. Unborn babies turn out to be killable because they cannot act maturely; they are less than fully persons, and so less than fully human. In fact, they must be killed when the interests of those who are more fully human require it. Therefore, not only may their mothers abort, but it would be wrong to stop the mothers from doing so. But look where else this drives us. Doesnt maturity also fall short among children, teenagers, and many adults? Then arent they also less than fully personsand if less than fully persons, then less than fully humans? Clearly so, hence they too must yield to the interests of the more fully human; all that remains is to sort us all out. No, the progression is too extreme! People are not that logical! Ah, but they are more logical than they know; they are only logical slowly. The implication they do not grasp today they may grasp in thirty years; if they do not grasp it even then, their children will. It is happening already. Look around. So conscience has its revenge. We cant not know the preciousness of human life therefore, if we tell ourselves that humanity is a matter of degree, we cant help holding those who are more human more precious than those who are less. The urge to justify abortion drives us inexorably to a system of moral castes more pitiless than anything the East has devised. Of course we can fiddle with the grading criteria: consciousness, self-awareness, and contribution to society have been proposed; racial purity has been tried. No such tinkering avails to change the character of our deeds. If we will a caste system, then we shall have one; if we will that some shall have their way, then in time there shall be a nobility of Those Who Have Their Way. All that our fiddling with the criteria achieves is a rearrangement of the castes. Need we wonder why, then, having started on our babies, we now want to kill our grandparents? Sin ramifies. It is fertile, fissiparous, and parasitic, always in search of new kingdoms to corrupt. It breeds. But just as a virus cannot reproduce except by commandeering the machinery of a cell, sin cannot reproduce except by taking over the machinery of conscience. Not a gear, not a wheel is destroyed, but they are all set turning in different directions than their wont. Evil must rationalize, and that is its weakness. But it can, and that is its strength.

Weve seen that although conscience works in everyone, it doesnt restrain everyone. In all of us some of the time, in some of us all of the time, its fearsome energy merely "multiplies transgressions." Bent backwards by denial, it is more likely to catalyze moral collapse than hold it back. But conscience is not the only expression of the natural law in human nature. Thomas Aquinas defined law as a form of discipline that compels through fear of punishment. In the case of human law, punishment means suffering the civil consequences of violation; in the case of natural law it means suffering the natural consequences of violation. If I cut myself, I bleed. If I

84 get drunk, I have a hangover. If I sleep with many women, I lose the power to care for anyone, and sow pregnancies, pain, and suspicion. Unfortunately, the disciplinary effect of natural consequences is diminished in at least two ways. These two diminishers are the main reason why the discipline takes so long, so that the best that can be hoped for in most cultures is a pendulum swing between moral laxity and moral strictness. The first diminisher is a simple time lag: not every consequence of violating the natural law strikes immediately. Some results make themselves felt only after several generations, and by that time people are so deeply sunk in denial that even more pain is necessary to bring them to their senses. A good example of a long-term consequence is the increase of venereal disease. When I was a boy we all knew about syphilis and gonorrhea, but because of penicillin they were supposed to be on the way out. Today the two horrors are becoming antibiotic-resistant, and AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, genital warts, human papilloma virus, and more than a dozen other sexually transmitted diseases, most of them formerly rare, are ravaging the population. Other long-term consequences of violating the laws of sex are poverty, because single women have no one to help them raise their children; crime, because boys grow into adolescence without a fathers influence; and child abuse, because although spouses tend to greet babies with joy, liveins tend to greet them with jealousy and resentment. Each generation is less able to maintain families than the one before. Truly the iniquities of the fathersand mothersare visited upon the children and the childrens children to the third and fourth generation. The second diminisher comes from us: "Dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good," we exert our ingenuity to escape from the natural consequences of breaking the natural law. Not all social practices have this effect. For instance, threatening drunk drivers with legal penalties supplements the discipline of natural consequences rather than undermining it. Nor is the effect always intended. We dont devise social insurance programs in order to encourage improvidence, though they do have this result. It isnt even always wrong. It would be abominable to refuse treatment to a lifelong smoker with emphysema, even though he may have been buoyed in his habit by the confidence that the doctors would save him. But to act with the purpose of compensating for immorality is always wrong, as when we set up secondary school clinics to dispense pills and condoms to teenagers. Here is an axiom: We cannot alter human nature, physical, emotional, or spiritual. A corollary is that no matter how cleverly devised, our contrivances never do succeed in canceling out the natural consequences of breaking the natural law. At best they delay them, and for several reasons they can even make them worse. In the first place they alter incentives: People with ready access to pills and condoms see less reason to be abstinent. In the second place they encourage wishful thinking: Most people grossly exaggerate their effectiveness in preventing disease and pregnancy and completely ignore the risks. In the third place they reverse the force of example: Before long the practice of abstinence erodes even among people who dont take precautions. Finally they transform thought: Members of the contraceptive culture think liberty from the natural consequences of their decisions is somehow owed to them.

85 There comes a time when even the law shares their view. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reauthorized the private use of lethal violence against life in the womb, the Supreme Court admitted that its original abortion ruling might have been wrong, but upheld it anyway. As it explained, "For two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized their intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. . . . An entire generation has come of age free to assume [this] concept of liberty." To put the thought more simply, what we did has separated sex from responsibility for resulting life for so long that to change the rules on people now would be unfair. Naught avails; our efforts to thwart the law of natural consequences merely make the penalty more crushing when it comes. The only question is whether our culture will be able to survive the return stroke of the piston. To survive what is bearing down on us, we must learn four hard lessons: to acknowledge the natural law as a true and universal morality; to be on guard against our own attempts to overwrite it with new laws that are really rationalizations for wrong; to fear the natural consequences of its violation, recognizing their inexorability; and to forbear from all further attempts to compensate for immorality, returning on the path that brought us to this place. Unfortunately, the condition of human beings since before recorded history is that we dont want to learn hard lessons. We would rather remain in denial. What power can break through such a barrier?The only Power that ever has. Thomas Aquinas writes that when a nation suffers tyranny, those who enthroned the tyrant may first try to remove him, then call upon the emperor for help. When these human means fail, they should consider their sins and pray. We are now so thoroughly under the tyranny of our vices that it would be difficult for us to recognize an external tyrant at all. By our own hands we enthroned them: our strength no longer suffices for their removal: they have suspended the senate of right reason and the assembly of the virtues: the emperor, our will, is held hostage: and it is time to pray. Nothing new can be written on the heart, but nothing needs to be; all we need is the grace of God to see what is already there. We dont want to read the letters, because they burn; but they do burn, so at last we must read them. This is why the nation can repent. This is why the plague can be arrested. This is why the culture of death can be redeemed. "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before thee . . . a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
J. Buziszewski is Associate Professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas and author of Written on the
Heart: The Case for Natural Law (InterVarsity). An earlier version of this article was published in William D. Gairdner, ed., After Liberalism (Stoddart).