Critique of Martin Rhonheimer‘s moral philosophy Kritik an Martin Rhonheimers ethischer Theorie
compiled by Raphael E. Bexten – Mayerling – 2012 urn:nbn:de:0288-2012061209
»To be sure, no moral theologian today would still derive moral normativity immediately from ‘nature’ as such (understood as the naturally ‘given’ and ‘presented’).« (Rhonheimer 2000, XVII.) New Natural Law Theory: »Aquinas asserts as plainly as possible that the first principles of natural law, which specify the basic forms of good and evil and which can be adequately grasped by anyone of the age of reason (and not just by metaphysicians), are per se nota (self-evident) and indemonstrable. They are not inferred from facts.« (Finnis 1980, 33) »The dilemma is simply this: one must either produce the means by which to proceed from facts to norms, or discontinue the attempt to espouse natural-law philosophy« (Veatch 1980-1981, 253. [emphasis added = e.a.]) “Knowledge of human nature is not the point of departure for ethics, and even less for the practical reason of each acting subject: it is, rather, its result. We must already know the human good to interpret ‘nature’ rightly and thereby reach the concept of human nature, which is full of normative meaning. This human good we know, indeed, through the natural law, which therefore must be understood as a cognitive principle – as a form, that is to say, of moral knowledge:” (Rhonheimer 2003, 6.) »The norm that prohibits the killing of a human being appears, in this case [vital conflicts], to be simply pointless and nonsensical. In fact, the meaning of the norm is that no unjust killing be committed…. The only morally good thing that can be done is to save the life of the mother.« (Rhonheimer 2009, 123)1 »Falls jedoch infolge von Nichtstun voraussichtlich beide [Mutter und Kind] sterben werden, die Mutter durch ärtzliche Intervention aber gerettet werden könnte, so besteht keine Konkurrenzsituation. Es gibt kein „Entweder die Mutter oder das Kind“. Es existiert einzig und allein eine lebensbedrohliche Situation für die Mutter. Für das Kind kann ohnehin nichts mehr getan werden, eine kurze Zeitspanne seines Weiterlebens scheint vernachlässigbar zu sein, zudem ist die Situation, in der es sich befindet und die es verursacht, ganz besonders im Falle der Eileiterschwangerschaft, schwer pathologisch (zumindest sind dies die Voraussetzungen, unter denen wir hier den Fall diskutieren). Wie gesagt ist genau deshalb eine Güterabwägung auch gar nicht möglich.« (Rhonheimer 2004, 151-152) „Problematisch ist natürlich der Zusatz von 1889 („et quamcumque chirurgicam operationem directe occisivam fetus“) durch welchen die Kraniotomie, so scheint es, fälschlicherweise dem Genus des „direkten Tötens“ zugeordnet wird, die ja nun wirklich allen involvierten Autoren immer als unerlaubt galt, und die Entscheidung von 1895, die dies bestätigt und das Verdikt sogar auf den Fall der bloßen Entfernung eines nichtlebensfähigen und in der Folge sterbenden Fötus aus dem Mutterleib ausweitet.[i] [i] Das bedeutet, dass die Revision dieser Urteile keine Einschränkung des Verbots der direkten Tötung implizieren würde, sondern nur die Zurücknahme der Behauptung, Kraniotomie (und analoge Verfahren) sei eine Form dessen, was man in einem moralischen Sinne „direktes Töten“ nennt. Allerdings ist die Formulierung „directe occisivam fetus“ wieder äußerst problematisch: Bezieht sie sich auf die physische oder auf die intentionale Direktheit der „occisio“? Ist mit „occisio“ der Akt auf der Ebene des physischen Geschehens oder die intentionale menschliche Handlung des Tötens gemeint? Je nach dem wird der Sinn des Dekretes dann natürlich ein anderer. Man darf wohl behaupten, dass es bei die damaligen Diskussionslage schwierig gewesen wäre, diese Differenzierungen angemessen vorzunehmen.“ (Rhonheimer 2004, 185-186)
1 (May 2010, 349) »Rhonheimer says that his book [(Rhonheimer 2009)] was “drafted for the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and completed and submitted to the congregation in 2000. After it was carefully studied in the Congregation and by its then prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the congregation in turn asked that it be published, so that the theses it contains could be discussed by«.
Table of Contents
»Martin Rhonheimer .................................................................................................................... 2 Leo Elders s.v.d.: .......................................................................................................................... 3 Marie A. Anderson, Robert L. Fastiggi, David E. Hargroder, Rev. Joseph C. Howard Jr., and C. Ward Kischer: .......................................................................................................................................... 3 Piotr Lichacz, O.P.: ...................................................................................................................... 4 »INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................... 4 Shalina Stilley ............................................................................................................................... 7 »Four Solutions to the IOP [›Is‹-›Ought‹ problem] ....................................................................... 7 William E. May:............................................................................................................................ 8 Steven J. Jensen: ......................................................................................................................... 10 JANET E. SMITH: .................................................................................................................... 12 Final Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 13 Bibliography ............................................................................................................................... 14
William E. May: »Martin Rhonheimer2 is a priest in the Prelature of Opus Dei and a philosopher noted both for his interpretation of the natural law teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and for many other philosophical studies. He is also recognized for his arguments in defense of Pope Paul VI’s teaching on contraception in Humanae vitae. One of his most important and thought-provoking essays on this subject, “Contraception, Sexual Behavior, and Natural Law: Philosophical Foundation of the Norm of ‘Humanae Vitae,’” was published in this journal. He also has written articles in defense of Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis splendor.« (May 2010, 330-331. [e.a.]) (Rhonheimer 2004, 138-140): »Meine Position kann kurz in folgender Weise zusammengefasst werden: Wie jede moralische Frage, kann auch die Frage des Tötens und der Abtreibung nur im Rahmen des dem Problem spezifisch zugehörigen ethischen Kontextes angegangen werden. „Ethische Kontexte“ definieren sich durch als Ziele von Tugenden verstandene Prinzipien. „Direktes Töten (eines Unschuldigen)“, ja überhaupt die Frage des Tötens eines Menschen, ist eine Frage der Gerechtigkeit, beziehungsweise der Verletzung der Gerechtigkeit (und zwar auf der fundamentalsten Ebene von „Gerechtigkeit“). Nur in diesem „ethischen Kontext“ des „Prinzips Gerechtigkeit“ und damit der Tugend der
2 (May 2010, 347.) »Born in 1950, Rhonheimer studied philosophy, history, political science, and theology in Zurich, receiving his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Zurich. He also studied in Rome. In 1974 he joined Opus Dei and in 1983 was ordained to the priesthood. He is the author of more than twenty books, most originally written in German with many translated into Italian, English, and other languages, and over two hundred major essays in anthologies and journals, including essays published in some of the proceedings of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Major works translated into English include Natural Law and Practical Reason: A Thomist View of Human Autonomy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000); and The Perspective of the Acting Person: Essays in the Renewal of Thomistic Moral Philosophy (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008). Currently professor of ethics and political philosophy at the School of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, he is a member of the editorial boards of The American Journal of Jurisprudence (Notre Dame Law School) and member of the scientific board of Acta Philosophica (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross). In 2002 he was appointed as a corresponding academician to the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas.«
Gerechtigkeit kann die Frage des Tötens als Frage der Moral überhaupt behandelt werden. Das heißt, „Töten“ kann als moralisch schlechte Handlung überhaupt nur bewertet werden, insofern „Töten“ möglicherweise eine Verletzung der Gerechtigkeit ist. Oder nochmals anders gesagt: Töten ist, in sich betrachtet, sittlich schlecht immer nur insofern töten ungerecht ist. Nur im ethischen Kontext „Ge-  rechtigkeit“ hat es somit einen Sinn, in einem moralisch relevanten Sinn von „direktem Töten“ (als willentliche Entscheidung oder Wahl, einem Menschen das Leben zu nehmen) zu sprechen. „Töten“ als rein physisch betrachtete (gewaltsame) Verursachung des Todes eines Menschen ist, wie „direkt“ auch immer die Tötung sich vollzieht, moralisch nicht bewertbar, und der Ausdruck „direkt“ hätte auf dieser Ebene allein betrachtet keinerlei moralisch relevante Bedeutung. […] Wenige Extremfälle, wie sie der Frage der Kraniotomie aber auch der Extrauteringravidität zugrunde liegen, entziehen sich jedoch aus geriau angebbaren Gründen dem ethischen Kontext „Gerechtigkeit“. Das Prinzip „Gerechtigkeit“ ist der Situation nicht mehr adäquat und damit ist auch die Ungerechtigkeit, die dem Tötungsverbot zugrunde liegt, hier auch nicht mehr einsichtig (was sich gerade dann zeigt, wenn man hier im Namen der Heiligkeit und Unantastbarkeit des menschlichen Lebens verlangt, die Mutter müsse zusammen mit ihrem bereits unrettbar verlorenen Kind sterben). Töten als moralisch verwerfliche Handlung, und das heißt präzise: als Verletzung der Gerechtigkeit, steht in solchen Fällen gar nicht zur Diskussion. Hingegen erscheint in diesem extremen Konfliktfall die Lebensrettung der Mutter als gebotene Pflicht der Gerechtigkeit (oder zumindest als der Gerechtigkeit angemessene Handlung), so dass die Handlung (auch wenn sie eine physisch „direkte“ Verursachung des Todes impliziert) moralisch korrekt als Handlung der Leberisrettung und damit auf der Ebene ihres Objektes als gerechte Handlung beschrieben und bewertet werden kann. Das heißt: Die Tötung des Ungeborenen fällt hier (1) aus der Alternative „gerecht/ungerecht“ heraus und wird (2) dadurch auf der Ebene des Handlungsobjekts als der Gerechtigkeit zumindest angemessene Lebensrettungshandlung beschreibbar. Deshalb ist die todesverursachende ärztliche Intervention selbst  analog zu einer nicht-intentionalen Nebenfolge, das heißt analog zu einer nicht-absichtlichen Verursachung (praeter intentionem) der Todesfolge zu beurteilen. Damit, so scheint mir, wird die einem gesunden ärztlichen Ethos entsprechende moralische Intuition gerechtfertigt, dass der Arzt in einem solchen Fall verpflichtet ist, wenigstens das Leben der Mutter zu retten und ihn für den Tod der Leibesfrucht keinerlei Verantwortung oder Schuld trifft. Nicht darum, eine Norm aufzustellen „Im Falle X ist es erlaubt, Y zu tun“ geht es, sondern darum festzustellen, dass hier den Arzt keine Verantwortung für den Tod des Kindes trifft. Es geht also letztlich nicht um eine normative Rechtfertigung (denn der Fall entzieht sich streng genommen jeglicher Normierung), sondern um ein Entschuldigen des Handelnden in einer rational auswegslosen Situation.« (Rhonheimer 2004, 138-140) Leo Elders s.v.d.: »M. Rhonheimer verwendet die Kategorie der Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz, um ein objektives Fundament für unsere sittlichen Verpflichtungen zu finden. Nach seiner Meinung kann der Verstand diese nicht aus natürlichen Strukturen ableiten, und ist die Ethik von Anthropologie und Ontologie unabhängig. Der praktische Verstand ergreift – so die These - unmittelbar das in ihm liegende bonum rationis, und zwar durch Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz.- Es ist zweifelsohne richtig, das Sittengesetz als eine Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz zu betrachten, aber dennoch müssen wir unsere sittlichen Verpflichtungen rational begründen und einsichtig machen. Hierfür gibt es keinen anderen Weg als Thomas’ Lehre vom Naturrecht. In Rhonheimers Sicht bleibt das Fundament für die ersten Prinzipien absolut unklar.« (Elders 2009, 242) Cf. also (Elders 1989, 2006; 2005; 2001).
Marie A. Anderson, Robert L. Fastiggi, David E. Hargroder, Rev. Joseph C. Howard Jr., and C. Ward Kischer:
“Martin Rhonheimer’s Defense of Craniotomy, Salpingostomy, and the Use of Methotrexate
Rev. Martin Rhonheimer’s defense of the use of salpingostomy and methotrexate in resolving ectopic pregnancies is based on his version of virtue ethics. His book Vital Conflicts in Medical Ethics: A Virtue Approach to Craniotomy and Tubal Pregnancies, which appeared in English in 2009, is a detailed, subtle, and sophisticated study, but a number of Catholic ethicists have described the central thesis as “fatally flawed” and “lacking a certain moderate realism about killing and the way people normally intend.” For Rhonheimer, killing is wrong because it violates the virtue of justice. In certain extreme cases, such as those that “required” a craniotomy prior to the development of cesarean section or, in the contemporary context, cases of ectopic pregnancy, the unborn child or embryo has no chance of survival. Therefore, according to Rhonheimer, the killing that occurs is only physically direct and immediate, but on the part of the agent there is no “intentionality that violates
justice.” As a result, the prohibition of intentional killing is not violated because, without a chance of survival, the unborn child or embryo cannot claim, in justice, any immunity from killing. Moreover, the intention of the agent is not to kill the unborn child but to save the life of the mother. Thus, in these extreme cases of vital conflict, the physical act of directly bringing about the embryo’s death is not a violation of justice, and therefore it is not wrong.” (Anderson et al. 2011, 676) “It should first be noted that Rhonheimer’s position stands in direct opposition to the decisions of the Holy Office of 1884 and 1889, both of which ruled that the moral legitimacy of craniotomy “cannot be safely taught” (tuto doceri non posse) in Catholic schools.52 Rhonheimer sees the decisions of the Holy Office as “problematic” a cause for “confusion.” In terms of Catholic ecclesiology, however, these rulings represent teachings of the ordinary magisterium. Unless such decisions have been qualified by subsequent magisterial interventions (which has not been the case), they merit religious assent on the part of the faithful. Rhonheimer also misrepresents what the Holy Office ruled in 1884 and 1889 concerning craniotomy. It did not state that the morality of craniotomy “could not be taught as certain,” but that “it cannot be safely taught.” One might be tempted to think this is merely an issue of the translation found in the English edition of Rhonheimer’s book, but he himself states that a judgment of “tuto doceri/tradi non posse” means only that “one cannot teach something with certainty of conscience (because it is perhaps wrong).” This, though, is not what such a ruling means. There are many theological positions that are tolerated or permitted, but they have not been taught as certain by the magisterium. Contrary to Rhonheimer, what the Holy Office taught in 1884 and 1889 was that Catholic professors could not safely uphold the moral permissibility of craniotomy. In other words, the moral defense of craniotomy was judged to be a dangerous and impermissible position to teach. In a similar way, the Holy Office ruled in 1944 that the position “of mitigated millenarianism” (which teaches that, before the final resurrection, Christ will come to reign visibly over the earth) “cannot be safely taught” (tuto doceri non posse). The Holy Office was not saying that “mitigated millenarianism” was permitted as long as it was not taught “as certain.” Rather, it was saying that this position could not be “safely taught.” In other words, it was a position that could not be publicly sustained and defended by Catholics.” (Anderson et al. 2011, 677678) Piotr Lichacz, O.P.: »INTRODUCTION It is commonly known that the question: Is it possible to infer an “ought” from an “is”? which means: Is it possible to make the transition from descriptive phrases to prescriptive ones or from fact to value? is nowhere to be found in St. Thomas’s writings. Neither do we find the question: Is it possible to base ethics upon a non-value science or upon some definition of goodness? It seems to some that Aquinas, as a pre-Enlightenment author, did not see these philosophical traps, which were “discovered” more than five centuries after his death, and thus he unwittingly committed a massive initial error which led to the elaboration of a complex, blundering moral theory. For indeed, if we were simply to ask whether Aquinas inferred moral rules from factual statements or moved from fact to value, many scholars would reply affirmatively, despite much recent interpretative acrobatics undertaken to deny this. For a fair number of people this is unfortunately a sufficient reason to cast such an author aside in order to prevent the loss of precious time in the study of theories which do not respect the basic rules of contemporary philosophy and theology. For them, to acknowledge this movement from fact to value is like acknowledging a pupil’s mistake. It completely disqualifies the author in question. He is banished from the contemporary world of serious thinking because the thesis “no ‘ought’ from ‘is’” is one of the dogmas of modern thinking and the “naturalistic fallacy” remains a serious objection in the evaluations of meta-ethical theories. This disqualification and banishment may, however, be precipitate. One can rightly ask, for example, what it means for Aquinas to “infer.” In particular, one can askwhat the character of “inference” is on the logical level and in what its relation or relations to things, signified by the words of descriptive and prescriptive phrases, consists. What is it we describe with our words and phrases? What makes an inference illicit? Whence do we obtain the principles that allow us to say that an inference is improper? Have we only one logic? What kind of logic makes untenable any derivation of practical judgments from theoretical ones? More profoundly, is there really an insurmountable chasm between fact and value, between “is” and “ought,” between factual and moral statements? Is “fact” really value-free? What kind of description devoids “facts” from their value-content and makes “is” a stranger to “ought”? These questions are asked because it is very probable that these modern problems do not apply to Aquinas’s worldview at all.
The interpretative acrobatics mentioned above, which aim to deny that Aquinas infers “ought” from “is,” are the work of certain Thomists who seem convinced that these problems are applicable to St. Thomas’s moral teaching on both the philosophical and theological level.3 For example, the best known proponent of this interpretation of Aquinas insists: ›Aquinas’s repeated affirmation that practical reason’s first principles are undeduced refutes the common accusation or assumption that his ethics invalidly attempts to deduce or infer ought from is, for his affirmation entails that the sources of all relevant oughts cannot be deduced from any is. There remain, however, a number of contemporary Thomists who deny that such a deduction or inference need be fallacious, and regard Aquinas as postulating some such deduction or inference.‹ (Finnis 2011) A common feature of this type of interpretation is a quest for the experimental source of the moral “ought” based on the argument that we need not learn metaphysics in order to know what we ought to do. As an almost obvious conclusion we find that our “ethical knowledge” precedes our speculative knowledge of human nature, “ethical knowledge” being distinguished from “ethical reflection.” (Rhonheimer 2003, 23.) The latter may take advantage of speculative knowledge but not the former because this would destroy moral autonomy. Ethics or moral theology reposes on the first principle of moral knowledge and is subsequently developed through moral reflection. This is so because “there can be no valid deduction of a normative conclusion without a normative principle, and thus … [the] first practical principles cannot be derived from metaphysical speculations.”4 It is argued that Aquinas is in agreement with these claims: he escapes this “logically illicit” transition from “is” to “ought” by an appeal to the principles of practical reason, which are autonomous regarding theoretical principles. What is often brought forth is a concern to guarantee the practical character of ethics. Morality seen as a theory of action in conformity with human nature would reduce ethics to a theoretical science. Ethics, in fact, is irreducibly practical. Hence, the Aristotelian attempt (present in Aquinas’s writings) to identify a “distinctive” or “peculiarly human function” is at least unnecessary for the whole of ethics.6 In the same vein, St. Thomas’s identification of “man’s last end” is said not to be foundational for his ethics, “despite surface appearances.” (Finnis 2011) It is thus possible, for example, to make an elaborate sketch of Aquinas’s theory of natural law “without needing to advert to the question of God’s existence or nature or will.” We are reminded as well by another author that the time of “naturalism” (equated often with “physicalism”) in ethics or moral theology is over: ›To be sure, no moral
(Lichacz 2008, 2. [e.a.]) »The expression “some Thomists” conceals especially such names as Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., who initiated the controversy around the “New Natural Law Theory” (the controversy began in 1965 with Grisez’s article “The First Principle of Practical Reason: A Commentary on the Summa Theologiae, 1-2, Question 94, Article 2” Natural Law Forum 10 : 168-201, but an extensive discussion followed the publication of Finnis’s book Natural Law and Natural Rights [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980]). Later, the same or a slightly modified thesis was repeated in many publications by these authors and other followers. From among those later defenders of this interpretation we can enumerate most notably Robert P. George and to some extent also Martin Rhonheimer (although Rhonheimer is influenced by it, he does not adopt fully Grisez-Finnis-Boyle’s approach). Each of these authors deserves a high esteem for his impressive work in the field of moral philosophy and theology. Many other Thomist scholars nonetheless have been struck by the affinity of arguments advanced by the proponents of the “New Natural Law Theory” with these of David Hume and G. E. Moore. This was one of the reasons why this innovation in reading Aquinas was criticized. Among early critics of this approach were such authors as Henry B. Veatch and Ralph McInerny. Later many others also objected against such interpretation, including Russel Hittinger, Lloyd Weinreb, Janice L. Smith, Brian V. Johnstone, Benedict M. Ashley, Alasdair MacIntyre, Fulvio Di Blasi, Anthony Lisska, Steven A. Long, John Rist, and Jean Porter. For a long list of publications on both sides of this controversy and an interesting discussion of the issue, see e.g. Fulvio Di Blasi, God and the Natural Law: A Rereading of Thomas Aquinas, transl. by D. Thunder (South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine’s Press, 2006). For an earlier account see e.g. Janice L. Schultz, “Is-Ought: Prescribing and a Present Controversy,” The Thomist 49 (1985): 1-23; and a continuation article: idem, “Thomistic Metaethics and a Present Controversy,” The Thomist 52 (1988): 40-62; Russell Hittinger, A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987). While I acknowledge that some presentations of their interpretation might be oversimplified and not entirely just, I do not intend to present the whole controversy once again.« 4 (Lichacz 2008, 4.) »Rhonheimer does not think “function” argument is an erratic boulder and criticizes Finnis on this point, see “ cf. (Rhonheimer 2003, 24.)
theologian today would still derive moral normativity immediately from ‘nature’ as such (understood as the naturally ‘given’ and ‘presented’).‹ (Rhonheimer 2000, XVII.) I will argue that Aquinas in a sense justified the transition from “is” to “ought” and I will attempt to exhibit some reasons why his ethics and moral theology are and should be naturalistic. The meta-ethical problems identified with David Hume and George Edward Moore, when compared with Aquinas’s teaching, will appear only as the consequences of mistakes made (or arbitrary decisions taken) on a more basic level, namely, the epistemological, semantic, and logical. These mistakes result as well in the elimination of the philosophy of nature and in the debilitation of metaphysics. I will argue that St. Thomas’s approach to human cognition, semantics and logic is to some degree immune to such perturbations. Thus, a defense of his ethics or moral theology against the accusation that he invalidly infers an “ought” from an “is” should not deny that he infers an “ought” from an “is,” but rather should explain in what sense he validly infers an “ought” from an “is.” I will clearly distinguish in the “Is/Ought Thesis” between the logical sub-thesis, the semantic sub-thesis, and the internalist assumption, which are distinct layers of the question. It is probable that the Thomistic is/ought controversy consists precisely in the blurring of these distinctions. A strong emphasis on the motivational character of moral discourse or necessarily practical character of ethics seems to introduce the hegemony of the question: “how is it that we know we ought to do something?” (a kind of phenomenology of action) over the question: “why ought we do something?” (a causal explanation). I will however not verify this possibility here. In this dissertation I intend only to show, distinguishing these three layers of the question, in what way Aquinas justifies the transition from “is” to “ought.”« (Lichacz 2008, 1-5.) »The aim of this dissertation was to show whether St. Thomas Aquinas justified the transition from “is” to “ought,” that is, the transition from factual descriptions to moral claims. The need for such a study was dictated by a controversy that originated with an interpretation of Aquinas’s writings that takes for granted the negative answer, namely that generally there is no justification for such a transition and Aquinas did not even try to justify it or to make it. For it is believed that to make such a transition is to commit a basic logical fallacy: you simply cannot infer prescriptive conclusions from purely descriptive premises. This claim is presented as an obvious philosophical principle. Some texts from the Summa Theologiae are quoted as well in order to prove that practical principles are not deduced from theoretical principles. This should confirm the opinion that St. Thomas was so a great thinker that already in the thirteenth century in his ethical theory he avoided a common mistake which was named and stigmatized only in the eighteenth century by David Hume. Moreover, since the first practical principles are not deduced from metaphysics or natural science, it follows that Aquinas’s ethics is not and cannot be naturalistic. By the same token St. Thomas avoided in his ethics the “naturalistic fallacy” identified by George Edward Moore in the twentieth century. But this interpretation of St. Thomas proved controversial for several Thomists and many critiques appeared that show inconsistencies in this approach. This study, however, was not undertaken as another polemic with those distinguished authors who advanced the aforementioned interpretation. It intended only to present positively some aspects of Aquinas’s teaching that help to understand why it is possible to say that he did justify the transition from “is” to “ought.” […] For our topic, it turned out to be crucial because, although the problem of the possibility of inferring an “ought” from “is” belongs to ethics or its foundations, the roots of the problem are not ethical and thus the problem seems to be insoluble within ethics as a discipline. Hence, we concluded that in order to find an answer to the problem of this dissertation we cannot read only the texts which we judge to belong to ethics or moral theology. Doing so might easily lead us to interpret them anachronistically.« (Lichacz 2008, 264-266.) »Trying to give a brief answer to the question whether St. Thomas Aquinas justified the transition from “is” to “ought,” we should say: yes, he did. The logical sub-thesis of the “Is/Ought Thesis” in Aquinas’s framework is simply wrong. It is true that not from every descriptive sentence or synthetic statement which uses no term in its moral sense there follows a moral statement. Yet there are descriptive sentences
that point at the final cause of a human being and thus entail moral statements. And there are specific rules in material logic discussed by St. Thomas that help to discern what conditions of descriptive sentences should be fulfilled so as to justify such an inference.« (Lichacz 2008, 274-275.) Cf. also (Stilley 2010). Shalina Stilley »Four Solutions to the IOP [›Is‹-›Ought‹ problem] During the past half century philosophers have come up with numerous solutions to the IOP both as it relates to the ethics in general and as it relates to natural law theory in particular. The first of these solutions attempts to show that the problem is merely a pseudo-problem. Searle, for example, claims to have offered a counterexample to the IOP by showing that an Ought can be derived from an Is. Moreover, his counterexample seems to be valid. Although he admits that one counterexample cannot in itself ›refute a philosophical thesis,‹ he argues that a counterexample in addition to an explanation of how the counterexample works, can.Gewirth also attempts to offer a counterexample. Even if these counterexamples are valid, however, several questions need to be asked. First, since neither Searle nor Gewirth are natural law theorists, it needs to be asked whether their counterexamples are pertinent to natural law theory. Even if we assume that Searle and Gewrith are successful in providing counterexamples, it could still be argued that, unless they implement the claims of natural law theory, the IOP is still a problem for natural law theory. Second, it needs to be asked whether the Ought derived in their counterexamples are moral, prescriptive, determinate, categorical, and egalitarian. Only if both of these questions can be answered affirmatively can these counterexamples be used by natural law theorists. A second solution involves deriving an Ought from the desires of agents.5 By utilizing this method, it is possible to derive a conclusion containing an Ought from statements concerning human nature as in the following argument: (1) Doing X is contrary to human nature. (2) Because X damages or goes against human nature, it leads to bad consequences. Therefore, (3) if agents desire to avoid these bad consequences, they ought to avoid doing X. Although, at this point, only a hypothetical Ought has been derived, further statements can be added to derive a categorical one. These statements are: (4) All agents in fact desire to avoid bad consequences and (5) Doing X always leads to bad consequences. With these additional statements, it is possible to conclude (6) All agents always ought to avoid doing X. The most obvious difficulty with this approach is that it would not seem to address all aspects of the IOP. Although the Ought-conclusion is not formulated as a hypothetical statement per se, the argument as a whole seems to be contingent on the desires of the agent and, hence, does not seem to be a viable solution. Otherwise stated, since a categorical Ought cannot be based on contingent on variable or escapable features either of agents – and since desires are variable, escapable features – any derivation based on desires would not seem to be properly categorized as categorical. A related difficulty is that the Ought-conclusion would seem, at least at first blush, to lack determinacy since different agents have different desires. Yet another difficulty is that it does not seem that the Ought derived is necessarily moral. Thus, more work needs to be done if natural law theorists utilize this approach. A third solution attempts to show that if we return to an Aristotelian, teleological, and functional understanding of human nature, the problem disappears. The claim is that once we come to understand the function of the human person, the Ought emerges. Analogously, if we grasp the notion of a watch as something which has the function of keeping time accurately, we can conclude that a watch which does not keep time properly is a bad watch and one which does is a good watch. In other words, once we grasp what the function of a watch is, it becomes clear that a watch ought to keep time accurately. Likewise, if we grasp the notion of a farmer as someone who has the function of producing crops, we can conclude that a farmer who does not produce crops is a bad farmer and one who does is a good farmer. Once we grasp the function of a farmer, it becomes clear that a farmer ought to produce crops. It would seem, then, that if we can acquire an understanding of the function of the human person, the Ought would at once surface or – to put it differently – it would seem that since natural law theory incorporates a functional view of human nature, the IOP may not apply to it.
(Stilley 2010, 27) »Janet Smith is an example of a natural law theorist who utilizes this type of methodology (although she does not specifically claim that it is a way of overcoming the IOP).« 7
Although many natural law theorists have accepted this as a solution to the problem, it too leads to difficulties. One of the main difficulties is that it is not clear that it is possible to come to know the function or essence of the human person. Another difficulty is that, even if we assume that it is possible to know the function of a human being, it is not clear that knowing that function would provide us with a moral Ought rather than merely an Ought of adequacy. It is clear that, since the very function of a watch is to keep time accurately, a watch ought to keep time accurately. It may also be clear, at least in some cases, that since the very function of a farmer is to produce crops, a farmer ought to do so (provided that he is able to). What is not clear, however, is that this is a moral Ought rather than just an Ought of adequacy. It would be absurd to argue that, since the function of a watch is to keep time, a watch has a moral obligation to keep time. It would also be absurd to argue that just because the function of a farmer is to produce crops, he has a moral obligation to do so. Why, then, must we accept that just because the human person has a particular function, he has a moral obligation to act in accord with this function? Apparently, if this approach is to be used, more work needs to be done here too. A fourth solution, which has been put forth by Finnis, Grisez and others, has been to start with an underived, selfevident Ought. This approach involves arguing that some goods are self-evident and, hence, need not be derived from statements about human nature at all. As Finnis puts it, ›the first principles of natural law, which specify the basic forms of good and evil and which can be adequately grasped by anyone of the age of reason (and not just by metaphysicians, are per se nota (self-evident) and indemonstrable. They are not inferred from speculative principles. They are not inferred from facts. They are not inferred from metaphysical propositions about human nature, or about the nature of good and evil, or about ‘the function of a human being‘, nor are they inferred from a teleological conception of nature or any other conception of nature.‹ (Finnis 1980, 33-34) Finnis also claims that specifically moral Ought statements must be derived from these self-evident first principles and, hence, he fully admits that the moral Ought must be derived. Nevertheless, he maintains that the moral Ought is not derived from Isstatements but, rather, directly from a pre-moral Ought-statement. However, this solution too meets with difficulties. One such difficulty is that it is not clear that the Ought is related to human nature and so it is not clear that this method is proper to natural law theory. (Cf. Veatch 1980-1981, 253) If this approach is utilized by natural law theorists, they must establish that there is some link between the moral Ought and human nature. Another difficulty is that it would seem to leave us with an indeterminate Ought since there is much disagreement about what the first principles and basic forms of good and evil are. Although all persons within a given culture might be able to agree on some principles, it is not clear that all persons tout court are able to agree. What might be accepted as a self-evident principle or Ought by some agents might differ from what is accepted as self-evident by other agents. Each of these proposed solutions have pros and cons, that is, each of them offer a path to a solution to the IOP as it pertains specifically to natural law theory while at the same time leaving some questions unanswered.« (Stilley 2010, 26-31) William E. May: »Masturbation In an essay defending Veritatis splendor, in a section criticizing Richard A. McCormick, S.J.’s proportionalistic “expansion of the moral object,” Rhonheimer writes with regard to the relationship between the stimulating of a man’s genitals and the moral act of masturbation: ›[S]timulation of the genital organs “as such” is not a kind of behavior that can be chosen or willingly performed by a human person; a basic reason, intent, or purpose is needed. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church very correctly writes in n. 2352: “ By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure.” That seems very clear. If one chooses the same behavioral pattern (stimulating genital organs) in order to get semen for fertility analysis, then one simply chooses an action that is different by its object.‹ (Rhonheimer 1995, 296.)
Rhonheimer thus held that stimulating a man’s genital organs to get semen for fertility analysis was “morally permissible.” Rhonheimer, in a cordial email to me, wrote that he did not say this but rather only that the chosen act was “different [from masturbation] in its object.” I accept this as Rhonheimer’s position. But if the chosen act is “different in its object” or “different by its object” (as the text cited reads), then the chosen act cannot be masturbation insofar as Rhonheimer’s precise point is that while both have the “same behavioral pattern,” they have different moral objects: one is masturbation, defined as “choosing that pattern in order to derive sexual pleasure,” whereas the other is “to choose that pattern to provide semen for fertility analysis.” My criticism was and still is that Rhonheimer’s position is not that of Pope Pius XII, who explicitly condemned as masturbation the act of freely choosing to stimulate one’s genitals to provide semen for fertility analysis. I accept Pius XII’s position, not Rhonheimer’s. Moreover, it seems to me that I did not unreasonably infer that, for Rhonheimer, such stimulation of the genital organs is morally permissible, for, in asserting that the action’s moral object is different, he in no way shows that the action whose specifying moral object is to provide semen for fertility awareness is morally evil.« (May 2010, 331.) »Rhonheimer’s Solution to the “Vital Conflicts”6 In the final section of his book, Rhonheimer applies his reasoning to four common procedures used to resolve ectopic pregnancies. First is salpingectomy (the surgical excision of an entire fallopian tube containing an unborn child); second is linear salpingo(s)tomy (slitting the tube where the baby is implanted and removing the unborn child and then sewing the tube together so that a future conception can take place in it); third is the use of the drug methotrexate (which dissolves the trophoblastic tissue attaching the unborn child to the tube and thus removes it from the tube); finally there is expectant management (or waiting to see if the unborn child will pass through the tube and enter the mother’s uterus). Rhonheimer judges the first two treatments morally legitimate because patients considering them ordinarily have reached the stage of vital conflict. He does not think that the third, use of methotrexate, is licit since the drug is administered when tubal pregnancies are first discovered, and at that time there is reason to think that the embryo will not die; since this is not a case of vital indication, he believes that the procedure “becomes something approaching a direct attack on the embryo.” (Rhonheimer 2009, 116.) Finally, expectant management is justifiable if the progress of the tubal pregnancy has not yet reached the point of vital conflict. Rhonheimer’s Argument Summarized I have already summarized the principal claim made by Rhonheimer that the proper way to resolve the vital conflicts posed by craniotomy and ectopic pregnancies is to recognize that ›the killing of any human being is a question of “justice” at its most fundamental level. Only within the ethical context of “justice” does it make any sense to speak in a morally relevant way of a “direct” killing as a choice to take a human life. It is only this reference to the virtue of “justice” that enables one to call an act of killing morally evil.‹ (Rhonheimer 2009, 11-12) Viewed from the context provided by an ethics of justice as a virtue, Rhonheimer recapitulates his own argument justifying craniotomy and use of any physical act removing and thus resulting in the death of an unborn child implanted ectopically by saying: ›The norm that prohibits the killing of a human being appears, in this case [vital conflicts], to be simply pointless and nonsensical. In fact, the meaning of the norm is that no unjust killing be committed…. The only morally good thing that can be done is to save the life of the mother.‹ (Rhonheimer 2009, 123) The final pages of Rhonheimer’s book, titled “Epilogue: Virtue Ethics,” offer important insights into his thought. « (Rhonheimer 2009, 138-150)
6 Cf. also (Cavanaugh 2011; Guevin 2011; Flannery 2011) Kevin L. Flannery: » Abstract: This article considers M. Therese Lysaught's analysis of an apparent abortion that occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2009. Since Lysaught invokes it, the article considers Rev. Martin Rhonheimer's theory about the bearing of vital conflict situations on the object of the act performed. A vital conflict situation is present when, for instance, the life of a mother might be spared if her fetus is aborted, otherwise she and the fetus will die. The article argues that the use of such situations in this way by Lysaught and Rhonheimer (and possibly others) is incompatible with Church teaching. The article concludes by suggesting that certain cases might be analyzed in such a way that the mother's life is saved and the fetus dies but there is no direct abortion.«
»Rhonheimer also asserts: ›Killing is “evil,” not because the “good” of life has been destroyed, but because, by the destruction of his life – his bodily and thus fully human existence in this world – one has acted toward a concrete living human person in a thoroughly unjust way … it is not “goods” that are infringed upon but claims, rights of human persons.‹ (Rhonheimer 2009, 142.) Here Rhonheimer seems to be criticizing those who say that it is always morally evil to choose to damage, destroy, or impede a basic human good such as life in a concrete human person. This, in essence, is the position taken by Grisez et al., who hold that a specific negative moral norm, an absolute with no “exceptions,” is not to choose to destroy a basic human good such as life itself. Grisez et al., while recognizing the role that virtue has to play in our moral life, do not propose a virtue-based ethics but rather one rooted in normative principles of the natural law, which for them, as for Aquinas, is the work of intellect as practical, and consists of an ordered set of true practical propositions—Aquinas calls them universal propositions of practical reason ordered to action – beginning with the most common and universal and proceeding to more specific kinds of norms: positive – which are always binding but not for every instance (norms binding semper sed non pro semper) – and negative – which are not only always binding but also binding at all times insofar as one can forbear doing any evil whatsoever (semper et ad semper). Concluding Evaluative Assessment of Rhonheimer’s Work in Medical Ethics There is no doubt that Rhonheimer’s studies on issues in medical (or bioethical) issues are exceptionally thoughtprovoking. In my judgment his criticism of the proportionalist methodology involving the “weighing” of the “unweighable” values of human lives and of the “physicalism” of the “traditional Catholic” understanding of the object morally specifying human acts is helpful. But despite the helpfulness of some of Rhonheimer’s views on disputed issues in medical ethics, his analyses can be seriously questioned and criticized. I will summarize my major problems with his analyses by focusing on the following aspects of Rhonheimer’s moral thought: 1. His claim that the intentional killing of an innocent human being either as means or as end is, from the perspective of justice, morally wrong because it violates the principle of equality. (Rhonheimer 2009, 40-42) 2. His claim that “the norm that prohibits the [intentional] killing of a human being appears, in this case [vital conflicts], to be simply pointless and nonsensical. In fact, the meaning of the norm is that no unjust killing be committed.” (Rhonheimer 2009, 123.) 3. His contention that “killing is ‘evil,’ not because the ‘good’ of life has been destroyed, but because, by the destruction of his life – his bodily and thus fully human existence in this world – one has acted toward a concrete living human person in a thoroughly unjust way … it is not ‘goods’ that are infringed upon but claims, rights of human persons.” (Rhonheimer 2009, 142.) 4. His rejection of the principle of double effect.« (May 2010, 340-341.)
Steven J. Jensen: »Martin Rhonheimer’s The Perspective of Morality: Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue Ethics offers a bold summary of Thomistic virtue ethics, laid upon some not-so-Thomistic foundations, culminating in questionable, perhaps even dangerous, conclusions concerning actions evil in themselves.« (Jensen 2012, 135) »Since we are rational creatures, we realize the strivings in our actions not blindly or with instinct but through reasoned deliberation (Rhonheimer 2011, 50-57). As such, human actions are always deliberate and intentional actions. If a description of activity does not include intention, then it describes mere bodily movement and not human action. An example to which Rhonheimer often returns is “lying on your bed.” Described just as such it picks out a state of the body. Only when we add something like “I am lying on my bed to get some rest” are we
describing a human action (Rhonheimer 2011, 55). The descriptions “I am resting” or “I am doing yoga” elliptically contain intentions that go along with the bodily state of lying on the bed, so that they also identify human actions. Rhonheimer is here speaking of intentions within activities; he is not referring to further intentions that go outside the human action now being performed (Rhonheimer 2011, 55;104-105). If someone steals in order to commit adultery, then the intention to commit adultery is a remote intention going beyond the immediate action of theft, but if someone lies on a bed in order to rest, the end of resting is part of the very activity now being performed. Rhonheimer, then, is making two divides. First, he is distinguishing mere physical activity – or activity considered according to some natural species—and human activity, which has an intention built into it. Second, he is distinguishing the intention that enters into an activity and a further intention that goes beyond the activity.These distinctions are reasonable enough, but Rhonheimer never clearly delineates the boundaries of each. Disregarding this imprecision will come back to haunt the unwary reader. Consider the first distinction. Lying on the bed is mere physical activity. Lying in order to rest is a human action; it is what Rhonheimer calls a basic intentional action, that is, the minimal unit of the human action: natural activity with intention (Rhonheimer 2011, 55). But how much intention is needed for basic intentional action? Suppose somebody asks me what I am doing, and I answer that I am “moving my finger.” Presumably, my response has provided mere bodily activity. Now I add, “I am moving my finger in order to pull the trigger.” Is this intention of pulling the trigger enough to provide a basic intentional action? Why, you might ask, am I pulling the trigger? In order to fire the gun. Is “firing a gun,” then, a basic intentional action, or do I need to go further yet in my intentions? I am firing the gun in order to make a noise. Is “making a noise” a basic intentional action? I am firing the gun in order to make a noise in order to signal the start of the race. Do I now have a basic intentional action? Or, on the other hand, is making a noise a basic intentional action, and signaling the start of the race is a further intention beyond the activity? Rhonheimer does not provide the tools to answer these questions, questions which, at this point, might appear to be mere quibbling over details, especially for an introductory book. The importance of these questions, however, will appear later, when Rhonheimer discusses killing, lying, certain kinds of abortion, and other intrinsically evil actions. His account of the morality of these actions will hang crucially upon these divisions—between physical activity and basic intentional action and between human actions and further intentions—but he will not explain upon what basis he makes the divisions. From what he says, it seems that Rhonheimer thinks basic intentional actions must include some sort of human good to their intention (Rhonheimer 2011, 106). Lying in bed is merely a physical state, but resting is a human good. At any rate, Rhonheimer never clarifies the point.« (Jensen 2012, 136-138) »A similar comment can be made concerning rights. In contrast to his usage of “ethical context,” Rhonheimer does give a limited treatment concerning rights (234–8). He says, however, that talk of natural rights must be recast in terms of the doctrine of justice as a virtue (235). Rights then, are secondary, a derivative concept. Surprisingly, then, when it comes to particular cases, rights begin doing much of the work of ethical justification. We must return a deposited item only when the owner has a right to the return (348). Killing is an injustice because the other person has a right to life equal to my own (355, 401). Capital punishment is objectively an action of justice because it does not damage the right of another (357). Lying is wrong because the interlocutor has a right to live in the social order and a right to the institutions proper to this, which presuppose truthfulness (364). Stealing is the taking of something rightly possessed by another (371, 387). The act of taking something away from someone else gets ist moral identity because it is directed against the right of the other person (386). Since rights have not been clearly defined, one is left with the impression that moral actions are defined, circularly, by the application of morally loadedconcepts, even as Proportionalists claim concerning moral absolutes, for example,adultery is simply sexual relations outside of marriage that is wrong. At any rate, what becomes clear is that the lack of content in practical reason, that is, a practical reason that simply defines the good itself and does not depend upon nature, has left a vacuum that has been filled by undefined moral concepts such as rights and ethical context. Since rights are easily created by whoever wishes to create them, such a practical reason is greatly to be feared. Homo prudens is man set loose in the void of empty space.« (Jensen 2012, 158-159)
JANET E. SMITH: »THE ARGUMENT THAT there are times when it is moral to use condoms to reduce the risk of transmitting the HIV has recently resurfaced, this time from a surprising source: Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, a philosopher who is no dissenter from Church teaching. In several recent publications he has attempted to determine the morality of the use of condoms to reduce the risk of transmitting the HIV. The Church has no explicit teaching on this matter. Certainly, it teaches that contraception is always wrong and Rhonheimer agrees with that teaching. He seeks to determine if use of the condom by HIV-infected spouses is intrinsically evil. Rhonheimer rightly observes that condoms themselves are not intrinsically evil--they are just things and they may have moral as well as immoral uses. It is the use of devices and chemicals as contraceptives that makes them immoral – not their very existence nor every use. He argues that condoms can never morally be used for contraceptive purposes but that there are other moral uses for condoms, even when they have a contraceptive effect. He supports the Church's teaching that married couples may never use devices and chemicals as contraceptives. But he maintains that promiscuous people, sexually active ho-mosexuals, and prostitutes, all of whom are at risk of spreading or contracting the HIV, would be showing a "certain sense of responsibility" were they to use condoms. He does not say that it is moral for them to use condoms, only that it may be less vicious for them to do so than not. Most significant and controversial is his argument that an HIV-infected spouse could morally use a condom for the purpose of reducing the risk of infection. He argues that such an act does not violate the condemna-tion of contraception laid out in Humanae vitae. He argues that HIV-infected spouses would not be using a condom as a contraceptive. Thus, they would not be using an evil means, that is, performing an evil act, to achieve a good end. Rather, these spouses would be tolerating the contraceptive effect of the condom as a side effect. In this essay I will explain my reasons for rejecting Rhonheimer's conclusion. The differences between Rhonheimer and myself go beyond a difference on how to assess the morality of the use of a condom by an HIV-infected spouse. Indeed, it derives not from a disagreement about the truth of the Church's teaching on contraception, for there we agree, but on how one properly determines the good-ness or badness of a moral action. Here is not the place to give a full response to Rhonheimer's method of moral analysis, but the attentive reader will realize that we disagree on some of the fundamentals of moral analysis. Rhonheimer does not recommend that HIV-infected spouses use condoms; he maintains that rarely would the risk of transmitting the HIV be proportionate to the goods sought. He is simply saying that such use of a condom would not be a contraceptive act and could be morally permissible if the goods sought were proportionate to the risk. This position does not make him a proportionalist, of course; many moral actions require an analysis of the proportionality of goods.« (Smith 2006, 27-29) »I believe my differences with Rhonheimer involve what constitutes the object of the moral act, what the "end" of the act is, what practical reason is, and how "nature" impacts the evaluation of an action. My critique of the method of moral analysis of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, William May, and Joseph Boyle (Appendix 4 in my Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1991]: 340-70) may shed light on some of the disagreements that I have with Rhonheimer. Rhonheimer has his own disagreements with Grisez's method but shares to some significant extent its understanding of practical reason.« (Smith 2006, footnote 4) »Strangely, Rhonheimer does not recommend that HIV-infected spouses confine their acts of conjugal intercourse to the infertile periods, in which at least the contraceptive power of the condom would not be in play as a side-effect. Moreover, Rhonheimer's reasoning would seem to permit some other acts generally considered by Catholics who are in line with the magisterium to be against the moral principles of the Church. Would Rhonheimer think a male could use a nonperforated condom to collect semen for fertility testing? Indeed, would masturbation to acquire semen for fertility testing be moral? Could it be said that that the masturbator was not intending the solitary orgasm--that it is the side effect of semen gathering?(39) »Indeed, it is odd that neither Rhonheimer nor others who argue for the morality of using the condom to reduce the risk of transmitting the HIV address the question of the morality of using a condom to reduce the risk of transmitting other sexually transmitted diseases. Clearly, the importance of not transmitting the HIV is heightened because the HIV causes AIDS which is fatal; nonetheless, medications are increasing the lifespans of those who have the HIV. Although other STDs are not lethal (though the connection of the HPV, the human papillomavirus, with cervical cancer may qualify it as a life-threatening STD), they can cause lifetime infections and inconvenience. Isn't the intent not to transmit nonfatal STDs similar to the intent not to transmit the HIV?« (Smith 2006, 62)
»The above is an examination of the question of the morality of the use of condoms to reduce the risk of the transmission of the HIV. While I believe that those who think HIV-infected spouses may morally use a condom are wrong, I believe this is a legitimate question raised by those who are faithful to the magisterium and that the discussions up to this point have helped clarify not only this matter but some related extremely important issues as well (e.g., what kind of act is necessary for consummation and what it means for an act to be unitive). This discussion is directed primarily at those trained in the mode of analyzing the morality of actions developed in the Catholic tradition. It is doubtful that the analysis will have much persuasive power for those unfamiliar with that tradition. It is highly probable that it will have nearly no persuasive impact on most of those who are at risk of transmitting or contracting the HIV. Nonetheless, the complaint that the Catholic Church is wrong to oppose the distribution of condoms to stop the spread of the HIV is a bit puzzling, when probed. After all, the vast majority of those who have the HIV contracted it by having sexual intercourse outside of marriage; many are homosexuals or men unfaithful to their wives or fornicators. Does anyone think that these men are not using condoms because the Catholic Church says they should not? Are there any social-service organizations or governments which do not distribute condoms because the Church disapproves of them? Perhaps the charge is that Catholic hospitals, social-service organizations, and educational institutions should be distributing condoms. But the Church thinks the real solution is chastity before marriage and fidelity within. It believes that with God's grace we can control our sexual appetites. It seems unreasonable that a world that promotes dropping condoms from the sky (many of them defective) and accepts the fornication and promiscuity that led to the problem of the HIV and its ravages should expect the Church to join that disastrous program. The Church remains firm in her conviction that human beings are fully capable of living in accord with the morality demanded by the reality of human sexual intercourse. When they do not do so, the results are, as I said, disastrous. No doubt Rhonheimer and I agree fully on this matter.« (Smith 2006, 68-69) Cf. also (Long 2008; Napier 2011; Newton 2011; Wong 2007; Bexten 2010) Final Conclusion William E. May: »In this concluding evaluation of Rhonheimer’s work on disputed issues in medical ethics I have given my reasons for thinking that his virtue-based approach to solving those issues, in particular “vital conflicts,” is not adequate and is rather rooted in a misreading of relevant magisterial documents.« (May 2010, 347) JANET E. SMITH: »I believe my differences with Rhonheimer involve what constitutes the object of the moral act, what the "end" of the act is, what practical reason is, and how "nature" impacts the evaluation of an action. My critique of the method of moral analysis of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, William May, and Joseph Boyle (Appendix 4 in my Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1991]: 340-70) may shed light on some of the disagreements that I have with Rhonheimer. Rhonheimer has his own disagreements with Grisez's method but shares to some significant extent its understanding of practical reason.« (Smith 2006, footnote 4) Cf. also (Rhonheimer 1994)
Leo Elders s.v.d.: »M. Rhonheimer verwendet die Kategorie der Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz, um ein objektives Fundament für unsere sittlichen Verpflichtungen zu finden. Nach seiner Meinung kann der Verstand diese nicht aus natürlichen Strukturen ableiten, und ist die Ethik von Anthropologie und Ontologie unabhängig. Der praktische Verstand ergreift – so die These - unmittelbar das in ihm liegende bonum rationis, und zwar durch Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz.- Es ist zweifelsohne richtig, das Sittengesetz als eine Partizipation am ewigen Gesetz zu betrachten, aber dennoch müssen wir unsere sittlichen Verpflichtungen rational begründen und einsichtig machen. Hierfür gibt es keinen anderen Weg als Thomas’ Lehre vom Naturrecht. In Rhonheimers Sicht bleibt das Fundament für die ersten Prinzipien absolut unklar.« (Elders 2009, 242) Cf. also (Elders 1989, 2006; 2005; 2001).
Steven J. Jensen: »Martin Rhonheimer’s The Perspective of Morality: Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue Ethics offers a bold summary of Thomistic virtue ethics, laid upon some not-so-Thomistic foundations, culminating in questionable, perhaps even dangerous, conclusions concerning actions evil in themselves.« (Jensen 2012, 135)
»Sic ergo patet falsam esse quorundam sententiam qui dicebant nihil interesse ad fidei veritatem quid de creaturis quisque sentiret, dummodo circa Deum recte sentiatur […] nam error circa creaturas redundat in falsam de Deo sententiam, et hominum mentes a Deo abducit, in quem fides dirigere nititur, dum ipsas quibusdam aliis causis supponit.« 7 (Thomas 2009, ScG, lib. 2 cap. 3 n. 6.) »It is, therefore, evident that the opinion is false of those who asserted that it made no difference to the truth of the faith what anyone holds about creatures, so long as one thinks rightly about God […] For error concerning creatures, by subjecting them to causes other than God, spills over into false opinion about God, and takes men’s minds away from Him, to whom faith seeks to lead them.« (Thomas 1975, ScG, lib. 2 cap. 3 n. 6.) »So ist also offenbar, daß die Meinung bestimmter Leute falsch ist, die sagten, es komme für die Wahrheit des Glaubens nicht darauf an, was man über die Geschöpfe meine, wenn man nur in bezug auf Gott die richtige Meinung habe […] Denn der Irrtum über die Geschöpfe geht über in eine falsche Meinung von Gott und führt den Geist der Menschen von Gott weg – zu dem sie der Glaube doch hinzulenken trachtet – indem der Irrtum die Geschöpfe anderen Ursachen unterordnet. « (Thomas 1975, ScG, lib. 2 cap. 3 n. 6.)
Anderson, M.A., R.L. Fastiggi, D.E. Hargroder, J.C. Howard, and C.W. Kischer. 2011. "Ectopic Pregnancy and Catholic Morality." The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly no. 11 (1):65-82. Bexten, Raphael E. 2010. "Ist der prophylaktische Gebrauch von Kondomen während des ehelichen Aktes ethisch legitim, wenn einer der beiden Ehepartner HIV positive infiziert ist? - Eine ethische Studie." In. Rheda-Wiedenbrück: Raphael E. Bexten. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0288-2011042738 http://d-nb.info/1011486873/34 http://www.scribd.com/doc/48502557. Cavanaugh, T.A. 2011. "Double-Effect Reasoning, Craniotomy, and Vital Conflicts." The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly no. 11 (3):453-464. Elders, Leo. 2005. The Ethics of St. Thomas Aquinas : happiness, natural law and the virtues. 1. Aufl. ed. Frankfurt am Main [u.a.]: Lang. Elders, Leo. 2009. Die Ethik des Thomas von Aquin. Translated by Detlef Rohling. 1. Aufl. ed, Schriftenreihe der Gustav-Siewerth-Akademie. Weilheim-Bierbronnen: Gustav-Siewerth-Akademie. Elders, Leo J. 1989. "Rezension zu: M. Rhonheimer, Natur als Grundlage der Moral, Insbruck-Wien, 1987 Normes éthiques et faits pré-moraux." Doctor Communis (42):167-174. Elders, Leo J. 2001. "Nature As the Basis of Moral Actions." Sapientia no. 56 (210):565-588. Elders, Leo J. 2006. "THE ETHICS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS." Anuario Filosofico no. 39 (2):439-463. Finnis, John. 1980. Natural law and natural rights, Clarendon law series. Oxford, New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press.
7 »So ist es offenbar, daß die Meinung bestimmter Leute falsch ist, die sagen, es komme für die Wahrheit des Glaubens nicht darauf an, was man über die Geschöpfe meine, wenn man nur in Bezug auf Gott die richtige Meinung habe […] Denn der Irrtum über die Geschöpfe geht über in eine falsche Meinung von Gott und führt den Geist der Menschen von Gott weg – zu dem sie der Glaube doch hinzulenken trachtet –, indem der Irrtum die Geschöpfe anderen Ursachen unterordnet.« (Thomas 2009, ScG, lib. 2 cap. 3 n. 6; 11).
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