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Human Goods and Moral Precepts

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1 Human Goods and Moral Precepts
The Basic Principles of Natural Law Human Goods and Moral Precepts

2 Part I - Law

3 Law Divine law Natural law Civil law There are different kinds of law
Canon law Divine law

4 Law Civil law Natural law Canon law Divine law
Civil law is founded upon natural law Natural law Natural law is a participation in divine law, but is naturally known Canon law Church law is rooted in an understanding of divine law and the historical situation of the Church. Divine law

5 Divine Law Divine Law is that which is enacted by God and made known to man through revelation. We distinguish between the Old Law, contained in the Pentateuch, and the New Law, which was revealed by Jesus Christ and is contained in the New Testament.

6 Canon Law Canon law (Church law) is the body of laws and regulations made by or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members.

7 Civil Law Civil law: man made law. Can be just or unjust, depending upon how it squares with natural law. I.e., one must be 18 in order to vote, 19 in order to drink, one must drive on the right side of the road, etc.

8 Natural Law Cicero writes of the natural law: “True law is right reason in agreement with is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting.... we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and for all times, and there will be one master and one rule, that is, God, over us all, for He is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.”

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

10 Natural Law First principle of speculative reason:
Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. First principle of practical reason: Good is to be done, evil is to be avoided

11 Part II – The Good

12 The Good The good: that which all things desire. All things desire their own perfection, that is, their own complete flourishing. Human beings have natural inclinations or desires (to be distinguished from acquired desires, and/or perverted desires).

13 The Good Apparent goods True goods
Apparent goods appear to be perfective of the human person, but they are destructive of the human person. I.e., a poison apple, associating with criminals, an adulterous relationship, living a life of total leisure without ever working, etc. True goods are truly perfective of the human person. Self-control, honest friendships, healthy foods, etc.

14 Sensible Goods Some of the desires (goods) we have are common to animals. These goods are sensible goods (desire for warmth, sense pleasure, etc).

15 Intelligible Goods But other desires (goods) are specifically human. These latter goods are intelligible (known via the intellect), and so they have no color, taste, feel, etc. For example, friendship cannot be sensed, nor can justice. This is not justice, but a symbol of justice unintelligible to a brute animal

16 Natural Law From these intelligible human goods (natural), more specific moral precepts (rules, regulations, laws) can be drawn out. If we know what is humanly good, we can begin to draw out the more specific demands of natural law. Specific precepts i.e., do not harm others First principle (good is to be done, evil is to be avoided) Human goods

17 Human Goods Religion: God is the Supreme Good, and so that part of justice that seeks harmony between oneself and God is called religion. Integrity (integration of the elements of the self, harmony between reason and my choices, and the will and the passions) The Common Good (sociability): The harmonious relationship that exists between oneself and the civil community as a whole. Marriage/family. Friendship: relationships based on common qualities and interests. Knowledge Leisure (the enjoyment of the beautiful/art and play) Life (bodily goods)

18 H I E R A C Y OF G O D S

19 External Material Goods
Wealth and Shelter These serve human life and the higher goods, such as truth, leisure, friendship, etc.

20 Goods of the Body Life (health) Pleasure

21 Life The human person has a natural inclination to preserve his life; for he sees his life as basically good.  That is why he acts to preserve it, and why married couples choose to beget life.

22 Goods of the Soul Intellect Intellect and Will
Knowledge Contemplation of Beauty (Art/Play)

23 Knowledge We desire to know, to contemplate. Man has a natural sense of wonder. Human beings ask questions, seek answers, wonder about the causes of things. Man is a knower.

24 Leisure (Contemplation of the Beautiful)
Man is inclined to behold the beautiful. Beauty captivates us, whether it is beautiful music, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful painting, a beautiful face, or a beautiful life. Although the possession of truth is a distinct good, truth is beautiful, especially in its order. The higher we climb (wisdom), the more beautiful truth becomes. In fact, truth and beauty are one in God.

25 Leisure (Making and Play)
Man is a maker. He loves to produce or make things. He likes to build, to play (games/sports), to create, to recreate, simply for its own sake. Making and play are intrinsically good.

26 Goods of the Will Religion Integrity Sociability/the common good
Marriage/family Friendship

27 Goods of the Will Friendship: relationship founded upon common qualities and common interests. 3 types based on: Pleasure Utility (useful friend) Benevolence (genuine friendship): friend is loved for his sake, not for the sake of what he does for me (I.e., useful or pleasant to me)

28 Goods of the Will Marriage/family
Man is inclined to marry, to give himself completely to another, to belong to another exclusively and permanently in one flesh union that is open to the begetting of new life.  Both husband and wife will to beget human life because goodness is effusive, and their unique conjugal relationship is good. 

29 Goods of the Will The Common Good of the Civil Community
Man is a social and political animal. He enters into relationship not only with friends, but with the civil community as a whole. There is a difference between his own private good and the common good of the whole. Just as a hockey player has his own private scoring record, his end as a player is a common good, namely victory for the whole team. The common good is a good in which everyone can participate without diminishing any other member’s share in it. Just as a good player thinks of the team before his own private scoring record, a good human person lives for the common good, not merely his own private good. The criminal is different in that he has no regard for the common good, but puts himself before civil community as a whole.

30 Goods of the Will Integrity (Virtue)
Man is inclined to seek integration within himself, an integration of the complex elements of himself.  This is because he seeks to be most fully, and one (along with good, beauty, and true) is a property of being.  He is inclined to bring about a more intense unity within himself, namely 1) an integration between truth and his acts, 2) his actions and his character, as well as 3) his will and his emotions.  Bringing order to the passions (cultivating temperance and fortitude) is good in itself, but is also a means to a higher end.  A person aims to be temperate and brave for the sake of possessing the highest good (God), the possession of which is threatened by excessive sensuality and/or by inordinate fear and daring.   

31 Goods of the Will Religion
Man aspires after what is higher than him because he is aware of his thirst, among other things.  He beholds his own finitude and the finitude of creation.  He aspires to what is beyond the temporal to the eternal, yet he cannot transcend the limits of his nature.  But he dreams about it.  He seeks to know the giver behind the gift of his existence.  As a spiritual nature, he is open to the whole of reality, the whole of being (universal being).  He seeks to know the “whole of reality”, that is, to possess the bonum universale.  We know from revelation that he is not going to attain it on his own; Scripture reveals that this can only happen through God’s initiative (divine grace).  He cannot, of his own nature, attain God.  If he is to attain the bonum universale, it can only be through another gratuitous giving, distinct from creation (divine grace).  He depends upon the divine initiative.  In fact, even his own natural happiness is dependent upon the gratuitous self-giving of others; for he cannot force people to be his friends.  And so this dependency upon the divine initiative is not incongruent at all, for man knows already that an element of his own happiness is the feeling of having a debt that cannot be paid.  

32 These intrinsic human goods form a hierarchy
Although human goods are good in and of themselves and are sought for their own sake, they also exist “for the sake of” higher goods

33 Part III - Character

34 Character Moral: from the Latin mores: character. Moral Identity: the kind of person one is or has made oneself to be. Morality is not about choices that promise to bring about an external state of affairs most conducive to the quality of life one desires for oneself or others. 

35 Rather, it is about the making of character. 
We determine our character, our moral identity, by the free choices that we make, and our very destiny is determined by the kind of persons we’ve made ourselves to be. Your character is more intimately yours than anything else you may have.

36 The human person is like a blank cheque
The human person is like a blank cheque. He has an already given structure (I.e., human nature with definite powers), but there is a space for him/her to “fill”, to complete, and this is one’s moral identity or character.

37 Character vs. Personality
Character is not the same as personality. You can have a great personality, but depraved character, like serial killer Ted Bundy on the left. You can also have a grumpy, or bland personality, but saintly character. Much of our personality is determined, either inherited or environmental. But character is entirely ours.

38 Choice (the relationship between what I choose and what I am) doing & being
I choose to lie I become a liar (even a nice liar) I choose to steal I become a thief (even a nice thief) I choose to kill I become a killer (even a nice killer) I choose to gossip I become a gossip (yes, even a nice gossip)

39 Man is an artist who sculpts his own moral identity, the kind of person he is or is becoming. By my own choice, I become either a good person, fully orientated towards “the good” (God, who is the Supreme Good), or an evil person, that is, a person deficient in my relationship to the entire spectrum of human goods.

40 Part IV – Secondary Precepts of Natural Law

41 Secondary Precepts The first principle of morality is “good is to be done, evil is to be avoided”. This, however, is very general. It breaks down into more specific moral precepts when seen against the background of the basic human goods. Specific precepts First principle actions Human goods

42 Secondary Precepts One notices that the basic human goods form a hierarchy:

43 God Society (others) Family

44 Others (the social whole) Individual good
is to be done, Evil be avoided God Family Others (the social whole) Individual good Given the first principle of practical reason and the human goods, one can draw out the following practical implications or precepts

45 One must direct one’s life towards the common good
Secondary Precepts God is to be loved above all things [If God is Goodness Itself, the Supreme Good, then “relationship” with God is the greatest human good] One ought to render due honour to one’s parents [the family is the society through which we enter this world. We owe a debt to our parents that cannot be fully repaid. Relationship with this first society is humanly good and of the highest importance] One ought to reverence the marriage bond [because marriage is an intelligible human good and the basis of the family] Do not harm others One ought not to do anything that harms the common good of the civil community One must direct one’s life towards the common good [I experience my life as good, because I’m inclined to protect it. I also know that the other is of the same nature as myself and thus sees his own life as equally good. I ought not to inflict harm on others, because they are basically good]

46 5) If others are intrinsically and humanly good, then one ought not to willingly destroy an instance of an intrinsic human good for the sake of some other intrinsic good. [In other words, one must not do evil to achieve good] 6) Since human goods are intrinsically good, that is, ends in themselves, then one ought not to treat another human person as a means to an end. [Persons must be loved, not used; things must be used, not loved] 7) Since others are equally good, since they are essentially equal, it follows that one ought not to treat certain others with a preference based purely on feelings, unless a preference is required by human goods. [In other words, one ought always to treat others in a way that respects their status as equal in dignity to oneself] 8) The common good can only be achieved in communion with others, so if we ought to revere the common good, one ought not to act individualistically for intelligible human goods, but in community with others. 9) And since man is a rational animal who desires his own fullness of being (good), he ought to act rationally. Hence, one ought not to act purely on the basis of emotion, either on the basis of fear, aversion, hostility, or desire for sensible goods, but ought to act on the basis of reason, in pursuit of intelligible goods and in accordance with all the precepts of natural law. [to act purely on the basis of emotion is to act as a brute, without the guidance of reason. A specifically human act is motivated by intelligible human goods and is guided by reason]

47 10. And since each person is intrinsically good and one (integral), and since one desires to be integrated, one ought not to violate that integrity. Hence, one ought not to lie (an immediate violation of integrity), and one ought to choose in accordance with one’s best judgment on what to do here and now (conscience), and one ought to relentlessly pursue that truth of what is right and wrong, to make sure one’s acts conform to the demands of the natural law. 11. One ought not to take what rightfully belongs to another (property)

48 Part V – The Elements of the Human Act

49 Moral Object Motive Circumstances

50 Moral Object Answers the question: What is being done? What are you choosing to do?

51 Motive Answers the question: Why is this being done? What is the reason why you are choosing this course of action?

52 Circumstances When? Where? How? Why? Who? By what means?
A moral circumstance modifies the act, but it does not cause the act to be the kind of moral act that it is.

53 Moral Principle Evil is a deficiency, a lack of something that ought to be there. Therefore:
In order for an action to be morally good, all three elements must be good. If any of the elements are evil, the entire action is evil (defective).

54 Example (Moral Object = Evil)
Moral Object: A married man has an affair (adultery). Motive: In order to comfort the woman with whom he’s having an affair. Circumstances: She’s depressed, she’s married but going through a tough time, etc. Secondary precept violated: revere the marriage bond (do not commit adultery)

55 Example (Motive = Evil)
Moral Object: Helping an old lady cross the street. Motive: Merely in the hopes that she will give you some money. Circumstances: Winter, icy road, need money for cigarettes, etc. Secondary precept violated: One ought not to treat another as a means to an end.

56 Example (Circumstances that render an otherwise good act immoral)
Moral Object: Practicing my putting stroke. Motive: In order to improve my game. Circumstances: Where? At a funeral home with nice green carpet. When? At my mother’s funeral wake. Secondary precept violated: Lack of due reverence for the deceased. One ought not to treat certain others with a preference based purely on feeling, that is, to treat others in a way that fails to respect their status as equal in dignity to oneself.

57 Part VI - The Principle of Double Effect

58 Sometimes an action has two effects: a good effect and an evil effect
Sometimes an action has two effects: a good effect and an evil effect. What does one do? Sometimes an action has two effects: a good effect and an evil effect. If so, what do we do?

59 The Conditions There are certain conditions which must be observed before one may perform the action in question. Should any of these conditions be violated, one may not perform the action. One may perform the action on certain conditions.

60 The Conditions 1. The action itself (which has two effects) must be a good action, or at least morally indifferent. In other words, it cannot be an evil act. Otherwise, we'd be doing evil to achieve good.

61 The Conditions 2. One must not positively will the evil effect. That is, one must not intend the evil effect. One may only permit or allow the evil effect. Permitting and intending are two very different ways of relating to human goods.

62 Here, the agent intends or wills the good effect, not the evil effect
Here, the agent intends or wills the good effect, not the evil effect. He may only accept the evil effect, but not will it. Now, he may be required not to accept the evil effect. This will depend upon condition #4.

63 The Conditions 3. The good effect must proceed directly from the action and not from the evil effect. For this would involve doing evil to achieve good.

64 Here, the good effect proceeds from the evil effect
Here, the good effect proceeds from the evil effect. If this were the scenario, one would have to will the evil effect in order to achieve the good effect. This violates the second condition. For one must not will evil for the sake of a good. Here, the good effect proceeds from the evil effect. If this were the scenario, one would have to will the evil effect in order to achieve the good effect. This violates the second condition. For one must not will evil for the sake of a good.

65 The Conditions 4. The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the evil effect.

66 Consider this example.

67 Some people think that saving the life of the girl was the effect of the man dying. But this is not so.


69 Intending vs. Accepting
No one intends to wear out their shoes. One wills that they never wear out, that they last forever. But one accepts the inevitable. One accepts the fact that when I choose to wear my shoes, they are going to wear out.

70 Here’s an example of an undesirable effect that is inevitable, yet not intended.

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