You are on page 1of 7

1

DETERMINANTS OF MORALITY/SOURCES OF MORALITY


Morality consists in the conformity and non-conformity of an act with the norm HOW DOES AN ACT RELATE TO THE NORM? HOW DO WE KNOW THAT A GIVEN ACT IS MORALLY OBJECTIONABLE OR NOT? Human Acts relate to the norm under the following aspects: a) In Itself = as a deed b) In its Motive c) In its circumstances The 2 principal elements of the act, the object and the intention of the agent must be ordained to the last end. The circumstances though accidental to the action, must also be ordained to the last end, since they could also be important. These 3 aspects are called Determinants of Morality | - determine how an act is rendered good or bad on the basis of its relation with the norm - the ordination of human acts to God depends on them, in accordance with the condition of created beings - If these 3 principles or aspects are good, the action is good, because it leads to God and makes the agent better. BONUM EX INTEGRA CAUSA, MALUM EX QUOCUMQUE DEFECTU - It means that, a thing is good if it has the fullness of its parts and it is bad when it is deficient in any of its integral parts - In moral parlance: human act is good when it is good in itself, in its motive, or purpose and circumstances. Defect coming from any of those aspects renders an act morally objectionable. In other words, like human anatomy, an act must have the perfection of its parts - Thus, a thing to be good must be entirely good, vitiated by any defect

I. ACT IN ITSELF/OBJECT
- To consider an act in itself is to regard its nature - ACT = not simply a mental or bodily activity requiring an expenditure of energy = it is physical tendency towards a definite result - we are dealing here with the human act performed, the deed done - RESULT=a) end of the act (finis operis) b) end of the agent (finis operantis) = motive of the doer - In physical sense = some actions are bad because they produce such evils as pain, hunger, illness or death - In moral sense = actions are bad because they disturb the harmony within the acting person ` = they are unfit to the natural and spiritual tendencies of the human soul = Moral evils also produce physical harm and damage of oneself and others = they are moral evils because what they destroy is the innate goodness, the Image of God in our human nature = Thus, moral evils are those that go against the natural law INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC EVIL INTRINSIC - implies a quality inherent in a thing - Thus, an intrinsic evil act is an act which is evil in itself EXTRINSIC - implies a quality which is superficially added to a thing (Example, a coat of paint covering surface of the wall without modifying the essentiality of the wood constituting the wall) - extrinsic evil an act which in itself is not evil but is made evil nonetheless on account of something else - extrinsic evil act that which, although good or indifferent in itself, is however prohibited by the law INTRINSIC EVIL ACT = certain actions are in themselves objectively good and certain others are objectively evil. Men have always regarded certain acts as good in

3 themselves because as a matter of fact, they are good = by its nature, that is, by its functional purpose is wrongful = natural law = tendency of man to actualize his potentials as a rational creature, that is, to be a person | - an act which prevents man from realizing his true worth as a person is intrinsically evil - ex. Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, lies, slavery = they contradict the demands of reason for justice, truth an decency = these actions are evil, not only because they cause unjust harm and suffering to others but above all, they dehumanize their perpetrators, reducing them to the level of beasts/ animals/irrational TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF PERSON WE OUGHT TO BE ON THE BASIS OF OUR NATURAL AND RATIONAL TENDENCIES = we can identify with relative accuracy those actions that are to be avoided as intrinsically harmful - The Decalogue of Moses and many human laws identify some actions like blasphemy, stealing, untruthfulness, murder and adultery In the tradition and culture of all people there are those actions which are regarded with horror and great repugnance = this means that it the consciousness of men certain actions are to be avoided as extremely dangerous poisons; actions that cause misery and physical afflictions to man

II. MOTIVE OF THE ACT/ INTENTION OF THE AGENT


- it is the purpose which the doer wishes to achieve by such action - it gives direction and motivation to an act = without a motive, an act is meaningless, and accident - it comes FIRST in the mind as intention and occurs LAST in the action as its culmination or fulfillment WHAT IS A GOOD MOTIVE? = one which is consistent with the dignity of the human person = one which is in accordance with the truth, justice, prudence and temperance

4 BAD MOTIVE = one which grows from selfishness such motive provokes action detrimental to others - Excessive indulgence of the self a form of personal injustice to oneself, nursing the greed that destroys others Action springing from the self seeking its goal = such desire must be moderated by prudence and fairness Old Testament = a good man is called a just man | - he acts rightly out of respect for himself And out of his concern for others THE END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS - to the doer = an act is a means of achieving an aim or purpose Ex. we study = to acquire knowledge, to pass the course, to receive a degree, to qualify for a job Wrong = to attempt at a good purpose by evil means Examples: - Student may not cheat in an exam in order to graduate - Employee may not fake his documents in order to be promoted in job - Public official may not accept bribe in order to finance a health center The axiom The End does not justify the Means - means that the worthiness of purpose does not make an evil act good (nothing is more pernicious than for a hoodlum to believe that he is justified in robbing the rich because he wants to share the loot with the poor = Robin Hood) INSIGHTS ON THE EFFECTS OF THE MOTIVE ON THE ACTION (Paul Glenn) a) An evil act which is done on account of an evil motive is grievously wrong (an objectively evil act performed for an evil purpose takes on a new malice from the evil end. If it has several evil ends, it takes on new malice from each) b) A good action done on account of an evil motive becomes evil itself (An act which is objectively good but done for an evil end is entirely evil. If the evil end is the whole motive of the act, an act is gravely evil if the evil end is gravely evil, and an act is only partially evil if the evil is neither gravely evil nor the whole motive of the act)

5 c) A good action done on account of a good purpose acquires an additional merit (an objectively good act performed for a good purpose takes on a new goodness from the good end if it has several good ends) d) An indifferent act may either become good or bad depending on the motive e) An objectively evil act can never become good by reason of a good end

III. CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACT


An ACT = an event = it happens in a definite time and place = accompanied by certain elements which contribute to the nature and accountability of such act In Law = we speak of mitigating or aggravating factors affecting a criminal act Morality = takes into account the circumstances surrounding an act | - who - what - where - with whom - why - how - where WHO - refers primarily to the doer of the act = who is the agent? - at times, it also refers to the receiver of the act = to whom is the action done? - this circumstance includes the age, status, relation, family background, educational attainment, health and socio-economic situation of the person or persons involved in an act Observations: a) The moron, the insane, the senile, and the children below the age of reason are considered incapable of voluntary acts and therefore are exempted from moral accountability. - But actions against these persons are normally regarded most cruel due to their helplessness in defending themselves

6 b) Persons with higher educational attainment are presumed to know better than those with little education. Accordingly, their liability is higher. Indeed, to whom much is given, much is expected. c) Persons vested with authority have higher accountability than those who merely follow their order or command. This is the meaning of command responsibility which makes a superior or official accountable for the actuation of those under their authority. d) The relationship between people involved in act may modify the nature of such act. - In this sense, adultery is different from fornication, and parricide from homicide WHAT - refers to the act itself and to the quality and quantity of the results of such act. - what is the extent of the act? Was the injury inflicted serious or slight? Was the amount stolen large or small? WHERE - refers to the circumstance of place where the act is committed - where was the act committed? WITH WHOM - refers to the companion or accomplices in an act performed. This includes the number and status of the persons involved. The more people involved in the commission of an act, the greater and more serious is the crime WHY - refers to the motive or intention of the doer HOW - refers to the manner how the act is made possible - under what condition? Was the action performed by the agent done in good or bad faith? - How an act is performed contributes to the malice of an act WHEN - refers to the time of the act - when was the act committed? Observations:

7 1) Circumstances may either increase or decrease the wrongfulness of an evil act 2) Circumstances also may either increase or decrease the merits of a good act 3) Some circumstances may alter the nature of an act Ethical Principles: 1) An indifferent act becomes good or evil by reason by reason of its circumstance 2) A good act may become evil by reason of circumstance 3) A good or evil act may become better or worse by reason of the circumstance and may even take on new goodness or malice from its circumstance 4) An evil act can never be made good by circumstance 5) A circumstance which is gravely evil destroys the entire goodness of an objectively good act 6) A circumstance which is evil but not gravely so does not entirely destroys the goodness of an objectively good act.

CONCLUSION:
Distinction between good act and evil act = it is not an illusion of the mind = There are good actions and there are evil actions and their realities do not come from out mind = Evil is not mans invention = rather, it means that man uses his freedom to do wrong - only man can do something morally wrong = because only man has the power to choose between what is good and what is wrong To be an authentic person is to be a responsible person. He knows how to use his freedom only as an instrument to do good