Friday, July 29, 2011

Natural Law Ethics: The Three Determinants of Moral Action

1. Object
The object is which the will intends directly and primarily. It could be a thing or an action.

2. Circumstances
Circumstances may mitigate of aggravate. There are seven circumstances mentioned by St. Thomas Aquinas:

a. who
- special quality, prestige, rank or excellence of the person
- It is bad to kill a man. It is worse to kill the president of the United States.

b. what
- quantity or quality of a moral object
- It is good to send money to the orphanage. It is better to send money to the orphanage and also take time to visit the children there.

c. where
- the place
- It is good to have a dental mission in a public school in the city. It is better to have a dental mission in a public school in the provinces.

d. by what means
- means in carrying out the act
- It is bad to shoot your enemy. It is worse to torture your enemy before shooting him.

e. why
- The end or purpose affects the goodness of badness of the action.
- It is bad to steal money. It is worse to steal money and use it to buy illegal drugs.

f. how
- manner in which the action is done
- It is good to send volunteers to help the typhoon victims. It is better to go to help the victims yourself.

g. when
- time element
- It is good to be with your friend in her graduation. It is better to be with your friend in her frustrations.

3. The End or Purpose
It is the integral part of moral acts. We should not employ evil means to attain a good end.

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