for the month of January, 1993

Ethics 206b & 206d


The normal prerequisite for this course is Philosophy 205. If you have not taken that course, or, in the case of transfer students, you have taken a different course, I strongly advise you to consult with your academic adviser and take the courses in the prescribed order. This course will draw on knowledge you have acquired in the previous general course on philosophy.

There will be one paper due, worth 20% of the mark. The date has not been settled yet. It will require proper footnotes & endnotes, a bibliography that includes approximately seven works which are not part of the course materials, as well as citations from and references to the reading material from the course.

It will be seven pages in length, double-spaced, standard format.

The student will base the paper on a problem presented in an article in the popular press during the past year (January, 1992 on). To verify, a photocopy of the first page of the article will be presented. A list of suggested topics will be presented. Students should present a proposal of topic and article to the instructor before writing.

The Mid-Term will be worth 40%. One quarter of the mid-term will be based on readings, three quarters on the course. It will probably be split into two sections at different times.

The Final Exam will be worth 40%. One quarter, by weight of marks, will be based on readings, and three quarters on the course. You will be able to choose from among several questions.

This course is taught by Professor Waters. He will be absent for some weeks during the first part of the course, although I cannot give a definite date for his return. During his absence I will be teaching this class and will be available at his office from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m.. I hope to be on the grounds of the University from 12 to 5pm, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and will definitely inform you as soon as this is settled. I will be available to the utmost of my ability for consultation on questions of substance related to content of this course.

First Remarks on Ethics

Ethics is a philosophical science. It is concerned with the order of human acts to their ends. It is based on our common experience of reality. We know from our own experience that we are free in choosing to do or not to do certain acts. Although we somehow understand that some things are right and others are wrong, we are not yet able to give an account of this.

Ethics is not psychology or sociology. Those disciplines are empirical sciences concerned with measurable phenomena. In sociology, for example, one might explore what percentage of the population thought that physician assisted suicide was wrong. In ethics, what the majority thinks is almost irrelevant. It will be necessary to give an account of why something is right or wrong, and it will be necessary to explain the principles of argument behind the rightness and wrongness of certain acts.

All people have some moral code, and some idea of culpability, of when it is appropriate to lay blame and when it is innapropriate. People may acknowledge very high moral standards, even if they are unable to keep them. People derive their knowledge of right and wrong from religious teaching, their parents, schools, peer groups and their own personal experience. They also derive knowledge of right and wrong from the civil law. In a sense, then, every human being is on his or her way to being an expert in ethics, since he or she has some idea on how to act. You, however, upon graduation, will be the leaders, the intelligentsia. One way or another, it will be you whom others will consult when faced with an ethical problem they cannot resolve. You will have to present arguments for what is right and ethical in the face of opposition. You will be formulating policy in institutions and standing in authority over others.

Aristotle said, in the Metaphysics, it is the business of the wise man to order. It is the character of the reason to know order. Things have order in two ways: the order of parts to the whole, and the order of things to an end. The reason is related to order in four ways:

1/The order that our reason does not create but only beholds, the order of things in nature.

This is natural philosophy, all the natural sciences, and the science of being as such, which is known as metaphysics.

2/The order that our reason establishes within itself, among concepts.

This is logic, and much of it has been carried over to computer programming.

3/The order that reason, in deliberating, establishes among our acts of the will.

This is ethics, or moral philosophy.

4/The order that reason, by planning, causes in external things, such as in building a house.

This is the realm of the mechanical arts, technology.

Man is a rational animal. The subject of ethics is human action ordered to an end. By human action I mean acts which spring from man's will and follow the order of reason. Many things which people do do not fall under the category of human acts, or human action. Digestion, the beating of the heart, snoring, and the like are involuntary. In addition, many actions are under partial control of the will, such as habits. Habits are formed either when we are children or by our own deliberate effort. Habits become second nature, and we are not responsible in the same way, though there is some responsibility for habits.

Man is a social animal. We cannot live without society. Without society we could not obtain the necessary things for life. While man as an individual acts with certain ends in view, so society as a whole has a purpose or purposes for which it exists

The first part of our study will be of

a/ ETHICS IN GENERAL, the principles which underly ethics. These include the End of Man, the Natural Law, Conscience, Human Rights and other areas. Then we will apply general principles in specific areas. b/1/INDIVIDUAL ETHICS, where we consider the actions of the individual as they are order to an end

b/2/DOMESTIC ETHICS, where we consider the operations of the small social group, the family, extended family, etc.

b/3/ POLITICAL SCIENCE, where we consider the operations of the Civic Group, the state. The obligations of the citizen to the state and the obligation of the state to the citizens.

In every human act two principles enter: 1/ the reason, 2/the appetite. Our reason considers things in themselves (the speculative reason), and how to achieve ends (the practical reason). Our rational appetite is concerned with choice and execution. The first step in a human act is that we correctly read reality. We could even phrase a first principle of ethics as "Be Faithful to Reality". This points out the very important role of knowledge in ethics. Through knowing we have a real grasp of the existence of the thing known. A being as that which is known is called the true. Being as the true is the object of the intellect.

In every case we are acting for the sake of some being, to obtain or change a being, or to bring something into existence. A being, considered as that which we desire, is called a good. The good is the object of the will, which is the appetite of the intellect.

Philosophy and Theology indicate a reality which is richer and bigger than that presented by the empirical sciences. This reality helps to explain many facts in the field of ethics and experience that otherwise would go unexplained. All the things that we aim for in our actions in the material and sensible world are limited. They are things which have beginnings and ends; they are limited beings and as such we are free to choose them or reject them as objects of our actions. Whatever happiness they may bring, it is temporary and limited. If there is a happiness without end, then our actions would have a terminal point, a real point to aim at. The fact that we have an insatiable desire for happiness without end or limit hints at the reality shown by religion.

The relation between theology and philosophy in general is as follows. Philosophy reaches its conclusions by reason, starting from experience. Theology draws upon what God has revealed. So, philosophy starts from reason, theology from revelation. There are a number of things which are known both from reason and from revelation. The immortality of the soul, the existence of God, these are things that can be demonstrated by philosophy. That there are three Persons in One God, that the bodies of the dead will rise again - these are things that can only be known if God reveals them to be so. Philosophy vis-a-vis theology explains how difficult theological propositons are not in contradiction to reason. Religious revelation sometimes gives in a simple and immediate form what could be figured out by the philosophers only after years, even centuries of thought. For example, if monogamy is necessary for our eternal happiness, it is best to know it right away and not have to figure it out.

Today I should have for you sheets concerning the course requirements, course outline, required texts and readings.

The texts are Higgins Man as Man, Ethics by Bernard Sylvester (a collection of readings), and Introduction to Saint Thomas (a red book).

An important remark: the paper is a Course Requirement: Although worth only 20% of the entire mark, failure to write it will result in total failure.

When reading the above, you are strongly advised to take notes. Now for a brief history of philosophy:

(draw Raphael's Academy). Plato and the disembodied ideas. Aristotle and Hylemorphism. Averreoism. Thomas' synthesis. Hedonism and Utilitarianism (the end justifies the means).

How to read St. Thomas.

Ethics: the sources - Judaism, and after it, Christianity (and Islam) are religions which place a very high value on ethical behaviour. The Jewish law and the prophets placed a high value on justice, which Christianity inherited. According to some, Stoic philosophy inherited its sense of ethics from the Jewish religion. It stressed constancy in adversity and suggested that men meditate on their place in the universe as a consolation. At the same time, the Epicureans suggested that pleasure was the highest good, there being all sorts of pleasures.

Socrates spent his life in questioning commonly held beliefs, searching for the source of these ideas. According to his disciple Plato, we are able to grasp what things are by means of the ideas. Many things of the same kind have a participation in one idea. In the dialogues, which star Socrates, Plato tries to define virtue, law, the good. He tended to separate man's spiritual element from the body, and proposed reincarnation. Plato tended to look first in his own mind, in the analysis of definitions and concepts, for truth.

Aristotle investigated things by looking to experience and history. His theory of virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics is based on what his Society considered a good man, and he drew many examples from history. In his ethics, he emphasises final causes. Every human appetite and activity tends towards some end (or telos). The reason governs the appetites so that they may achieve that for which they are intended. Some ends are for the sake of higher ends. Everything that anyone deliberately does is for the sake of obtaining happiness.

The classical learning of Aristotle was lost to the West for centuries, and was reintroduced when Europeans made contact with Moslem civilization. They had developed Aristotle's thought in a direction which led to conclusions contrary to their religious belief. Averroes, a commentator on the works of Aristotle, held that there were two truths: one truth derived from reason, the other from what God has revealed, and these two truths may contradict one another.

The doctrine of two truths arrived in mediaeval Europe and gained many adherents. Thomas Aquinas held that there is only one truth. Either a statement is true or it is not. God is incapable of deceiving, and the reason, if it starts from the truth and reasons correctly is also infallible. His labour was to show to the adherents of the theory of two truths that the truth that we learn from experience and reason, and the truth that we learn from God's having revealed it are compatible, not contradictory.

The method of St. Thomas Aquinas is a formal version of the question and answer method of Socrates. He would present a question, then present the arguments on one side. Then he would present the true answer, followed by a refutation of all the arguments in turn.


The subject matter of ethics is the way we should live, and this is of interest to all of us. As humans, we must learn how to live, whether by our own deliberation or from tradition. Other animals are governed by instinct. Their behaviour remains the same from generation to generation with no development of culture. Humans, on the other hand, must even learn how to breathe. The Sudden Infanct Death Syndrome is supposedly caused by the infant's forgetting how to breathe. Breathing is governed by instinct for a short period after birth, and then the child must actually learn how to breathe. Our appetites are very vague, compared to other animals where their appetites and instincts govern the minute details of dailly behaviour.

Like other animals, our senses and sense pleasure are necessary for survival. In general, any activity that is good for us as animals has a certain pleasure that helps us to carry it out. We need to eat in order to survive, and so, to make eating easier, there is a pleasure associated with it. We need to avoid extreme cold in order to survive, and so there is a pain associate with exposure to the elements. The pleasures we have in friendship, in romantic love and in marriage are all aimed at a certain concrete and real good.

Every pleasure is aimed at a certain good, but we know that it is a mistake to take the pleasure itself for an end. Food may be pleasurable, but when we hear of the ancient Romans who had rooms called Vomitoriums, we object. They would eat for pleasure alone, and when they were too full to eat any more, they would go to the special room provided, put their finger down their throat and disgorge their meal to make room for more.

On the other hand, even brute animals can rise above the immediate inducements of pleasure and pain in order to survive. Such is the animal that chews off its own foot rather than remain in a trap.

According to Plato, our emotions are like powerful horses pulling us in various directions. The reason is like a man in a chariot, who must rein the horses in and direct them. Our emotions can take us in various unreasonable direction and it is natural for the reason to govern them. The reason is not to crush the emotions, but to steer them. All the emotions are good if they are aimed at their proper end. Even Hatred has its Purpose in the grand scheme of things. It is impossible to love what is good unless you hate what is evil. It is never a concrete thing that is evil, but always the lack of something, a disorder where there should be order, something that should be present but is not. It takes time and effort to correctly and reasonably govern one's emotions and to harness their power to become a good person.


Aristotle said "It is the business of a wise man to order". There are four kinds of order and four corresponding divisions of knowledge:

1/ The order of things among themselves.

This is studied by the natural sciences, and by metaphysics, the philosophy of being.

2/ The order of concepts among themselves.

This is studied by logic and related disciplines.

3/ The order of human action toward an end

This is studied by ethics

4/ The order human work puts into matter

This is studied by the mechanical arts - technology.

Ethics considers the value of human acts, their MORAL RECTITUDE or MORAL TURPITUDE. Ethics cannot make verifiable predictions, as can the natural sciences, because it is dealing with free human action, and since it is free it cannot be predicted. Ethics is a PHILOSOPHICAL science. It rests upon Metaphysics, the philosophy of being, and it treats the ULTIMATE PRINCIPLES of HUMAN CONDUCT.

Ethics provides the Basic or Foundation for other sciences. It has the right to determine the moral correctness of other areas of study. The science of ethics, for example, stands above the science of law, or sociology.

Ethics is a PRACTICAL SCIENCE. The study of ethics does not remain at the theoretical level, but ethics is studied that we may put its conclusions into practice. Ethics is a NORMATIVE science. Ethics provides us with NORMS which can direct our activity. A norm is something against which we an measure the rightness or wrongness of an act.


Ethics is concerned with the theoretical principles that can be applied to human behaviour. Moral theology is concerned primarily with practice, especially in areas specific to the practice of religion (the observance of Church laws etc.)

Ethics draws its conclusion from reason alone. The conclusions of Moral theology are drawn from Revelation, and are developed from revelation. Revelation usually does not add new things in the area of revelation, but it provides a confirmation of the conclusions of ethics.

Ethics reaches some conclusions only with much time and labour. Moral theology reaches some of the same conclusions immediately from what God has revealed.

Ethics considers man as merely natural. Moral theology considers man in the light of his supernatural destiny as revealed by God.

How far can ethics reach in the area of theology? Philosophy can reach many conclusion by reason alone concerning God and the ultimate destiny of man. Reason alone can know that man has an immortal soul, and that God exists. Reason alone can know that God is perfect, that He is the Fullness of Being, that only in the possession of God can man be happy, that God cannot and would not deceive.

Reason alone cannot know that there are Three Persons in One God, that the human body will be raised again from the dead, among other truths.

Lecture Notes for the 25th of January

1. Remarks on the Course Requirements

and on the readings

2. The Human Act


I may remind you that one of the course requirements is a research paper. While it is only worth 20% of the final mark, failure to write it will result in total failure in the course. It will probably be due the last class day before Easter Recess. This will probably be April 5, a Monday. The Paper will be 7 pages in length. I will probably have today further details on the subject matter of the paper.

Readings from Aquinas

The readings from the Summa Contra Gentiles Book III (in the Introduction to St. Thomas), present a fuller treatment of the material in Chapters 1 and 2 of Higgins, Man as Man. The Summa Contra Gentiles Book III, discusses that every agent acts for an end, that the final end of all things is God, that all things resemble God in as much as they are Beings, that Man's final happiness is in seeing God directly, that man, in order to see God, must be transformed. All these questions may have been covered in the prerequisite philosophy courses. Today we are covering the Human Act. This is covered in Chapter III of Higgins, Man as Man, and in readings from St. Thomas Aquinas, question 6 articles 1-8. The box on your hand-out contains the necessary readings:

For the midterm you are responsible for reading all the things indicated in the box, except for the SUMMA THEOLOGICA, qu. 90-95. Questions 90-95 are going to be your responsibility for the final exam.

Review: Ethics is a philosophical science, a practical science, and a normative science. It is concerned with human acts, i.e. acts performed freely without compulsion. The five great principles of General Ethics are:

1/ THE END, - human conduct terminates in some end. The end is a final cause.

2/ THE GOOD, - An activity is good if it takes us to man's natural end.

3/ LAW, - The Law (Natural Law and Civil Law) teaches us why a man should seek his natural end by doing good and avoiding evil.

4/ CONSCIENCE - Conscience is that whereby we know the good we must do and the evil we must avoid.

5/ VIRTUE - virtue is a habit that disposes us to do good.

We have already spent enough time on an introduction to ethics, now today we start on the course material. Please read up to the end of Chapter III - The Human Act. This will cover all the material up to and including today's lecture.

Not everything a human does is a human act. We are subject to the laws of physics, as any material thing. We take in nourishment and grow, like any living thing. We have senses and appetites, like any other animal.

All the voluntary acts, all act of the will in daily life are free. When faced with limitied goods, we are free to choose them or not to choose them.

The human act is the FREE, DELIBERATE ACT. The act of man as man.


A/ motion of the will (otherwise known as VOLITION)

velleity is weak volition

B/ intellectual knowledge of the purpose of the act

C/ freedom.

If any of these elements is missing, no human acts have taken place.


In every human act something is chosen, and this is referred to as the OBJECT of the human act.

The OBJECTS of the Human Act are either DIRECT or INDIRECT

The DIRECT OBJECT of the Human act is that which immediately terminates the will act. It may be internal, as in an act of loving a friend or hating an enemy, or external as when the will commands some other bodily power to do something. The physical act of the body is the COMMANDED ACT. The ACT OF THE WILL is the INTERNAL DECISION.

The truly human act is ALWAYS AND ONLY the INNER ACT OF THE WILL. It alone is free.

The INDIRECT OBJECT OF THE WILL is something not intended but foreseen as following from what we directly intend. If an act has a result that could not have been foreseen by us, that result is not VOLUNTARY. The indirect object of the will is called voluntary in cause, for it is willed only because that which causes it has been willed.


a/ THE PERFECT VOLUNTARY ACT - full knowledge and consent

b/ THE IMPERFECT VOLUNTARY ACT - semi-deliberate, in which there is incomplete deliberation or consent.

INTENTION: the voluntary act is a motion toward an object.

a/ POSITIVE INTENTION: directed toward a positive action

b/ NEGATIVE INTENTION: directed toward the omission of an act.

Another distinction:

a/ ACTUAL INTENTION: an act of the will which here and now produces an effect;

b/ VIRTUAL INTENTION: an act of the will which continues through interruptions over a long period of time.

Man is responsible for his human acts.

We are not responsible for that which merely happens within us, but only for what we deliberately cause to happen.


The voluntary nature of our human acts depends on knowledge and free consent. The following factors affect either knowledge or free consent and so diminish the human act.







1.a. INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE - a person does not something, and he could not have reasonably been expected to know it under the circumstances. If a person is invincibly ignorant of a fact, he is not responsible.

b. VINCIBLE IGNORANCE - a person has not made adequate effort under the circumstance to find out necessary information.

c. CRASS IGNORANCE - a person has not made ANY effort to find out the truth.

In the legal world, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW does not diminish responsibility before the courts. Lawmen consider it the duty of everyone to know the law.

IGNORANCE of FACT may excuse one before a court of law.


2. The passions help us toward what is good for us, and away from what may harm us. The CONCUPISCIBLE passions (CONCUPISCENCE = pleasure) concern pleasure and pain. The IRASCIBLE PASSIONS (IRATE=angry) concern facing some difficulty in obtaining a good.

SPONTANEOUS PASSIONS arise on their own without premeditation or incitement.

STIMULATED PASSIONS are either deliberately cultivated or accompany a strong sentiment in the will.

SPONTANEOUS PASSION may diminish or destroy freedom of the will.

STIMULATED PASSION, since it is result of our will, does not completely destroy freedom. If I nurse my anger, it may lead to a situation where I lose control, but I am still responsible for working myself up. One may even deliberately work himself up to do something, in which case stimulated passion may increase one's responsibility for an act.


Fear is the shrinking of the appetite from some evil that is difficult to avoid. Actions taken on account of fear are voluntary and so are IMPUTABLE (we are responsible for them). Fear of some great evil may excuse people from immediate compliance to human law, but not in cases where this would involve some violation of the Natural Law. For example, lawyers, doctors and priests have a grave obligation to keep secrets told to them in confidence.


Habit can diminish responsibility for an act, but this must be discussed later when we discuss virtues and vices.


Violence can affect our external acts (commanded acts), but not our internal acts of the will. Three considerations:

1/ Under threat of violence we must always withhold internal consent.

2/ Where violence is IRRESISTIBLE, neither the moral nor the positive law holds us responsible for the external act.

3/ Where the violence is not IRRESISTIBLE, we must resist to some extent, in inverse proportion to the violence.

How much and when should we resist violent coercion? a/ the oppressor alone is doing the wrong and the oppressed is only a spectator: in this case the oppressed does not need to do anything, as in a bank robbery.

b/ If we are being forced into some passive participation in a wrong act, we must offer enough resistance to prevent internal consent or obvious scandal.

c/ We must always resist when violently forced to do some positive evil act.

Friday, January 29

1. Review of modifiers of the human act.

1/Ignorance: 2/Passion: 3/Fear: 4/Habit: 5/Violence.

I have to finish off the discussion of violence.


Violence is an impulse that comes from outside the person , forcing him to act against his choice without his concurrence.

The person suffering violence resists and strives against it; otherwise there is no violence.

Violence or compulsion cannot affect the internal acts of the will, and the human act consists in an internal act of the will. Violence or compulsion can affect the commanded acts of the will, the physical act. A commanded act of the will may be hindered by violence or compulsion, as when a man is dragged whither he would not go.


Force strips of the act with out the consent of our will. Fear, on the other hand, addresses the will, and ultimately it is the will that decides the issue (Sertillange).


Violence can affect our external acts (commanded acts), but not our internal acts of the will. Three considerations:

1/ Under threat of violence we must always withhold internal consent.

2/ Where violence is IRRESISTIBLE, neither the moral nor the positive law holds us responsible for the external act.

3/ Where the violence is not IRRESISTIBLE, we must resist to some extent, in inverse proportion to the violence.

How much and when should we resist violent coercion? a/ the oppressor alone is doing the wrong and the oppressed is only a spectator: in this case the oppressed does not need to do anything, as in a bank robbery.

b/ If we are being forced into some passive participation in a wrong act, we must offer enough resistance to prevent internal consent or obvious scandal.

c/ We must always resist when violently forced to do some positive evil act.

remark on the Text:

the N.K.V.D. mentioned in Higgins, the last paragraph of Chapter III, is the forerunner of the K.G.B.


We all experience the fact that we have a free will, and that we are responsible for the decisions we make. Yet this is denied, sometimes implicitly, sometimes expressly, by many scientists.

DETERMINISM - the philosophy that everything is determined.

What is the problem? Science (biology, psychology, physics) measures physical phenomena that repeat themselves and can be seen by more than one observer. They look at phenomena that are inter- subjectively verifiable, that is, they can be verified by more than one observer.

We experience our freedom every time we make a decision, and that experience is as real and vivid as any experience we have through our senses, and it is as true a source of knowledge as any experience whereby a natural scientist gains knowledge. It can only be experienced by the subject, and he cannot share this experience with anyone else. We can only guess by ANALOGY that other people have the same internal experience of freedom.


Not only we we experience freedom, we sometimes experience a painful limitation of freedom. We also are aware of occasions when we abused our freedom. The ancient poet Ovid wrote "I see what is the better thing, and I approve of it, but then I go ahead and do what is worse." What he describes is a universal fact of human existence.

This experience is also expressed as "THE DRAMA OF NATURE AND THE PERSON." It is a drama because a lot is at stake in the moral dilemnas of a human life. Whether a person is a believer in religion or an atheist, he understands this. What is going to happen depends in some way upon our personal decisions. Our actions cause us to be who we are, they form our cirriculum vitae. We understand that we cannot change the past, and so each action forms an irrevocable part of our life story. For the atheist, his belief is that this life story is all that he has when he faces death, and he would still feel that it would be wrong to be remembered as a coward or a liar, good to be remembered as a brave and honest man. This is true even if he cannot say why such things matter if he will no longer exist. For the religious believer, the life story that he creates for himself is going to be his through all eternity, and so he has very powerful reasons to be concerned with the course of his life.

Our actions, our human acts, form our character. The result is that one human individual may differ from another, even one brother from another in the same family, more than a cat differs from a dog! They will behave in entirely different manners, with different beliefs and attitudes, and the chief factor is that they have been formed by different actions and experiences.


Nature is part of the drama. Our physical and biological nature is the part of us over which we have no say. Like anything in the physical universe, we have a nature, which determines us to be one way and not another. For example, our needs of eating, sleeping, exercise, are all given to us by nature, and we cannot fight against nature in any of these areas for very long. Our passions are also supplied to us by nature. Quite often, nature is a source of weakness, and instead of helping us, turns into an obstacle.


The person is the spiritual aspect of man. We do not call animals persons. A PERSON IS AN INDIVIDUAL SUBSTANCE OF A RATIONAL NATURE. As an individual substance of a rational nature, the person has the freedom and knowledge to make free choices. His reason is lord over all the passions, emotions, and even physical processes that go on within him.

In order to develop ethically, a person has to develop a good sense of when he is actually performing some action, and when it is merely a case of something going on inside of him. This is the difference between what man makes happen and what merely happens inside of man. For example, we are responsible for cultivating our thoughts, but thoughts can also intrude themselves upon us without our wish. The fact that we like or dislike a person may be something that merely happens within us, or it may be our decision.

* * *

the following are covered in the Readings from Thomas Aquinas SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES, Book III, these are in the INTRODUCTION TO SAINT THOMAS, pages 429-478


Human nature is constant across space and time. This is apparent from reading the great literature of other times and cultures. His nature calls for him to seek certain goods as ends. His nature is also incomplete: man has to make himself who he is with his work. He has the freedom to make choices to achieve the ends proper to him. His actions will either hit the mark or miss it, and will therefore be right or wrong.



2/AN END IS SOMETHING SOUGHT FOR ITS OWN SAKE (something may be both a means and an end, e.g. we eat food forthe sake of eating, but also as a means of nourishment)




1/Man acts for an end in all his human acts

2/In human acts there must be some end which is final

3/Man can have only one final end

4/All men must have one and the same last end. (this follows from the fact that men have one common nature)


1/NATURAL END - an end to which something is directed by nature

1.a. INTRINSIC - realizable within the being

the ultimate INTRINSIC NATURAL END is to exercise one's faculties and develop to be the best possible.

1.b. EXTRINSIC - something is a good for some higher being, as cabbages have an extrinsic natural end as food. But man cannot be "useful" to God, who needs nothing, so he cannot have an extrinsic end.

2/ARBITRARY END - one which a free agent chooses to pursue.

Man's natural end is perfect happiness, which occurs when his rational appetite is satisfied.

APPETITE - tendency of a natural agent toward some action to secure some good.

1. ELICITED APPETITE: an appetite toward a good revealed by newly apprehended knowledge

2. INNATE APPETITE - an appetite that springs from nature, with or without previous knowledge.

We seek all things for the sake of happiness. Happiness is what the will (the appetite of the reason) seeks.

No FINITE EXTERNAL GOOD can make us happy because:

1/ it does not exclude unhappiness (e.g. wealth does not keep sickness, we lose all these thing when we die).

2/ it can not give us all we desire;

3/ it can make us unhappy (People who win lotteries often end up with ruined lives.)

People put forth the following goods as being man's happiness:

1/pleasure - but pleasure is only the subjective state which accompanies some object of the will. The object which gives the pleasure must be a higher good.

2/Knowledge, love, virtue - Again, knowledge always depends on Something being known, or something has to be loved, and virtue always aims at some end.

3/ Man himself - man cannot be satisfied only with his own existence, since he is a limited being.

4/ progress - progress for the sake of progress is movement for the sake of movement, and implies something unfinished. Happiness cannot be the result of something unfinished and incomplete.



to be continued


to be continued


to be continued.

Lecture Notes for Monday, February 1

Note: It was Jonathan Swift (A Modest Proposal) who suggested that the Irish eat their children.

For the morning class we shall REVIEW Freedom, but for the noon class we must still go over the material.


We all experience the fact that we have a free will, and that we are responsible for the decisions we make. Yet this is denied, sometimes implicitly, sometimes expressly, by many scientists.

DETERMINISM - the philosophy that everything is determined.

What is the problem? Science (biology, psychology, physics) measures physical phenomena that repeat themselves and can be seen by more than one observer. They look at phenomena that are inter- subjectively verifiable, that is, they can be verified by more than one observer.

We experience our freedom every time we make a decision, and that experience is as real and vivid as any experience we have through our senses, and it is as true a source of knowledge as any experience whereby a natural scientist gains knowledge. It can only be experienced by the subject, and he cannot share this experience with anyone else. We can only guess by ANALOGY that other people have the same internal experience of freedom.

(206D has up to this point from previous class)


Not only we we experience freedom, we sometimes experience a painful limitation of freedom. We also are aware of occasions when we abused our freedom. The ancient poet Ovid wrote "I see what is the better thing, and I approve of it, but then I go ahead and do what is worse." What he describes is a universal fact of human existence.

This experience is also expressed as "THE DRAMA OF NATURE AND THE PERSON." It is a drama because a lot is at stake in the moral dilemnas of a human life. Whether a person is a believer in religion or an atheist, he understands this. What is going to happen depends in some way upon our personal decisions. Our actions cause us to be who we are, they form our cirriculum vitae. We understand that we cannot change the past, and so each action forms an irrevocable part of our life story. For the atheist, his belief is that this life story is all that he has when he faces death, and he would still feel that it would be wrong to be remembered as a coward or a liar, good to be remembered as a brave and honest man. This is true even if he cannot say why such things matter if he will no longer exist. For the religious believer, the life story that he creates for himself is going to be his through all eternity, and so he has very powerful reasons to be concerned with the course of his life.

Our actions, our human acts, form our character. The result is that one human individual may differ from another, even one brother from another in the same family, more than a cat differs from a dog! They will behave in entirely different manners, with different beliefs and attitudes, and the chief factor is that they have been formed by different actions and experiences.


Nature is part of the drama. Our physical and biological nature is the part of us over which we have no say. Like anything in the physical universe, we have a nature, which determines us to be one way and not another. For example, our needs of eating, sleeping, exercise, are all given to us by nature, and we cannot fight against nature in any of these areas for very long. Our passions are also supplied to us by nature. Quite often, nature is a source of weakness, and instead of helping us, turns into an obstacle. Our nature has several levels, 1/physical: like rocks we obey the laws of nature; 2/vegetative: like plants we assimilate nourishment, grow and reproduce; 3/animal: like animals we have appetites and senses.

4/rational: this we share with angels and, in a remote way, with God.


The person is the spiritual aspect of man. We do not call animals persons. A PERSON IS AN INDIVIDUAL SUBSTANCE OF A RATIONAL NATURE. As an individual substance of a rational nature, the person has the freedom and knowledge to make free choices. His reason is lord over all the passions, emotions, and even physical processes that go on within him.

In order to develop ethically, a person has to develop a good sense of when he is actually performing some action, and when it is merely a case of something going on inside of him. This is the difference between what man makes happen and what merely happens inside of man. For example, we are responsible for cultivating our thoughts, but thoughts can also intrude themselves upon us without our wish. The fact that we like or dislike a person may be something that merely happens within us, or it may be our decision.


* * *

the following are covered in the Readings from Thomas Aquinas SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES, Book III, these are in the INTRODUCTION TO SAINT THOMAS, pages 429-478, and in Higgins, MAN as MAN, chapter 2, and in the whole of the readings from Aristotle.


Human nature is constant across space and time. This is apparent from reading the great literature of other times and cultures. His nature calls for him to seek certain goods as ends. His nature is also incomplete: man has to make himself who he is with his work. He has the freedom to make choices to achieve the ends proper to him. His actions will either hit the mark or miss it, and will therefore be right or wrong.


1/A CAUSE - AN END IS THAT ON ACCOUNT OF WHICH ANYTHING BEGINS TO BE. SCG III ch. XVII, (pg. 437 in Intro To St. Thomas); The end holds the primary place among causes, and it is from it that all other causes derive their actual causality. I.e. Things are brought into being by agents acting for ends. God is the first casue of all, and God is the last end of all.

2/AN END IS SOMETHING SOUGHT FOR ITS OWN SAKE (something may be both a means and an end, e.g. we eat food for the sake of eating, but also as a means of nourishment). Something may be sought as an end, because it leads to another end, in which case it is not only an end but a means, and may not be regarded as an end at all.



(SCG iii, chpt. XVIII, pg. 437 in INTRO TO ST, TOM.)


1/Man acts for an end in all his human acts

2/In human acts there must be some end which is final

3/Man can have only one final end

4/All men must have one and the same last end. (this follows from the fact that men have one common nature)


1/NATURAL END - an end to which something is directed by nature

1.a. INTRINSIC - realizable within the being

the ultimate INTRINSIC NATURAL END is to exercise one's faculties and develop to be the best possible.

1.b. EXTRINSIC - something is a good for some higher being, as cabbages have an extrinsic natural end as food. But man cannot be "useful" to God, who needs nothing, so he cannot have an extrinsic end.

2/ARBITRARY END - one which a free agent chooses to pursue.

Man's natural end is perfect happiness, which occurs when his rational appetite is satisfied.

APPETITE - tendency of a natural agent toward some action to secure some good.

1. ELICITED APPETITE: an appetite toward a good revealed by newly apprehended knowledge

2. INNATE APPETITE - an appetite that springs from nature, with or without previous knowledge.

We seek all things for the sake of happiness. Happiness is what the will (the appetite of the reason) seeks.

No FINITE EXTERNAL GOOD can make us happy because:

1/ it does not exclude unhappiness (e.g. wealth does not keep sickness, we lose all these thing when we die).

2/ it can not give us all we desire;

3/ it can make us unhappy (People who win lotteries often end up with ruined lives.)

People put forth the following goods as being man's happiness:

1/pleasure - but pleasure is only the subjective state which accompanies some object of the will. The object which gives the pleasure must be a higher good.

2/Knowledge, love, virtue - Again, knowledge always depends on Something being known, or something has to be loved, and virtue always aims at some end.

3/ Man himself - man cannot be satisfied only with his own existence, since he is a limited being.

4/ progress - progress for the sake of progress is movement for the sake of movement, and implies something unfinished. Happiness cannot be the result of something unfinished and incomplete.

5/ honour: honor depends on the good opinion of others, but this is not a thing which stands by itself, but a very unstable relation.



SCG III, CH. XXV: In higher operations of rational creatures, the operations contains the species of that which is the object of the operation. So the operation of knowing is most perfect when what is known is God. The more perfect the object of such an operation, the more perfect then is the operation. The last end of any intellectual substance is to know God, wherein it is performing the most perfect and highest operation of which it is capable.

Man has a natural need to know the causes of things, and the ultimate cause is God. Therefore he has a natural need to know God as the first cause.

SCG III, CH. XXVI: SCG III, CH. XXXVII: Man's ultimate happiness cannot consist in external possesssions, nor in the goods of the body, nor in pleases the senses. Man's ultimate happiness is in the contemplation of the truth. All other human occupations exist to serve those who contemplate the truth. Also, knowledge of first principles is not the end, but the mere beginning of knowledge. Knowledge of natural things is not the end, but the end of knowledge is wisdom, based on the consideration of divine things.

SCG III, CH. XXXIX: Note: Demonstration means obtaining knowledge using logical proofs.


SCG III. CH. XXXIX: It is in our nature to know God. Now, although it is possible to obtain some knowledge by means of demonstration, i.e. by using the tools of logical proof, and step by step, this is beyond the reach of most men, so there must be some other way.

SCG III, ch. XL: The knowledge of God that is our ultimate happiness is not the knowledge we obtain by Faith, for in Faith we are not seeing for ourselves, but are accepting the word of someone who tells the truth. to be continued


SCG III, ch. xlvii: We cannot see God in this life. God is known in this life only as a cause is known through its effect.

to be continued.

SCG III, ch. xlviii: In this life man's appetites cannot be satisfied. His highest appetite is to know, but the more he knows the more his desire for knowledge is kindled. In this life we cannot know separated substances (angels & God) though in themselves they are most intelligible. Man cannot achieve a perfect operation according to perfect virtue in this life, except perhaps near the end of old age, when there would not be much time to enjoy it. So there the ultimate happiness of man must be beyond this life.

Aristotle held that perfect happiness could not be had by men in this life, but only a share or participation in the happiness enjoyed by separated substances. But man has an immortal soul, and he will be able to enjoy happiness after death. SCG III, ch. LI: Natural desires are not in vain, and we have a desire for happiness that cannot be satisfied in this life, therefore happiness must be possible, even though it be in the next life. God cannot be seen through any mental images (species or phantasms), which is our present mode of knowledge. A vision of God must be immediate.

SCG III, ch. LII: It is not within man's nature to be able to see God, but the vision of God requires a special action on God's part that over-rides the limits of man's nature.

SCI III, ch. LIII: The ability to see God is beyond man's nature. In order to be seen by man, God must give to his intellect extraordinary powers.

SCIII, ch. LXI: Time consists in a succession of moments, but eternity is one. God is eternal, and to see God directly is to be in eternity. Therefore to see God is have eternal life.

* * *

\Wednesday, February 3, 1992 and Friday, February 5

This class will be given over to discussion, since both classes are now synchronized as to content.

Note on Aquinas:

On population: In the time of St. Augustine, the population of the known civilized world was likely in the area of 10 million. Yet Augustine said that the world was already too crowded! Certainly, even with such populations, there was much misery.

On connatural knowledge: Someone said, if we know ethics through connatural knowledge, then could any of us be a professor of ethics. In a sense, yes. Any one of you are capable of becoming parents, in which case you are the primary source of ethical knowledge, by word and example, for your children. Yet, to teach ethics at a university level, you have to present demonstrations for your arguments. Connatural knowledge of ethics is helpful in teaching, but not sufficient of itself. Connatural knowledge is primarily of help in the situations of daily life.

Connatural knowledge does not replace demonstrative knowledge, but the two complement each other. Knowing the theory of how a car works helps you to be a better driver, but does not replace the intuition that is part of being a driver.

On euthanasia: Hitler did not begin euthanasia. Euthanasia had gained momentum in Germany since the 1920s. Euthanasia was not started by the executive order of the Nazis, but doctors were merely permitted to do what they had been doing all along. (Find notes, inform, then let a discussion happen).





In Latin BONUM ET ENS CONVERTUNTUR. The Good and the Being are interchangable and refer to the same things. The Good is the being in so far as it is an object of the will, that is, in so far as it is wanted or willed or desired. Being is something in so far as it exists. While we may say that an actual concrete thing is good or bad, we are speaking in relation to our own appetites and our own needs. Every actual existing thing is willed by God and exists on account of God's will. Evil is something missing from a being that properly should be there. Evil as such is never a thing, but the lack of a thing. For example, what is evil about greed? It is a lack of a proper order. What is evil about cancer? The proper order of the cells is lacking.


A Being is something which exists

A Good is something which is desired or wanted

A True thing is something which is what it is thought to be



This is the acquisition of a perfection, or a perfection itself, in a being.


This is something which is good in so far as it is a means to obtain a good.


This is a good which gives pleasure. It is nature's way of drawing us toward things which are good for us. The delectable good, however, should not be made into the chief object of desire.

The best things in life are useless! Perfective Goods are good in themselves, not because they are useful for obtaining something else. the good of the individual

the common good

The use of a means is subordinate to the end, and so there are logical limits to the use of any means. When you make what is merely a means into an end, then there is no logical limit governing its use. Those, for example, who seek money for the sake of money, have no way of knowing when they should stop.

Advertisement: Leisure the Basic of Culture - by Joseph Pieper

Life cannot be all work. The purpose of work is to have leisure and to do things which are worth doing for themselves. Examples, contemplation, where one lingers on important truths for their own sake; football games, where together thousands or people gather together to cheer for people who are trying to be excellent as athletes - a festival of excellence; religion, where together people concentrate on a bigger reality than the one of day to day life and worship God. The need for true leisure in which one spends time on the highest things, which are useless, which are not mere means or tools to get something else, this need is within every human being by nature. That is why the Scriptures say: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."


Positivists have said that evil human actions are evil because God has arbitrarily decreed that they are evil, whereas realists hold that God forbids certain actions because they are evil in themselves.


The objective norm or measuring stick for whether certain human actions are right or wrong is human nature itself. Is an action in accord with the ends of human nature? If yes, then it is a moral act, in conformity with morality, otherwise it is a wrong act, in difformity with morality. Since human nature is rational, a good human act must be in accordance with reason, and an evil act is not in accord with reason. That does not necessarily mean that one has to be thinking all the time about final ends, merely that the acts themselves not go outside the order that reason dictates.



This is the act considered according to its direct object and immediate end. The act itself can be right or wrong.


Circumstances (with whom, to whom, how, when etc.) can make a good act bad and can make a good act better, but circumstances cannot make a bad act good.


The motive is further in the future than the object of the act. For example, a man may help a sick woman (a good act with a good object), but his motive is ultimately to seduce her (a bad motive). A bad motive can make a good act bad.


A bad act with unintended good effects is still bad.

A good act with foreseeable bad results is bad if 1/you are free to avoid it, 2/you are obliged to avoid the evil effect.


1/The initial voluntary act must be good

2/the good effect must follow as directly as the evil effect

3/there must be a proportionally grave reason for placing the act and permitting the evil effect

4/ the evil effect must never be intended.

* * *

Ethics, Monday February 5 and Wednesday February 10

(review of specific moral determinants, indirect objects of moral acts, double effect).

The Paper

There will be one paper due, worth 20% of the mark. The date has not been settled yet. It will require proper footnotes & endnotes, a bibliography that includes approximately seven works which are not part of the course materials, as well as citations from and references to the reading material from the course.

It will be seven pages in length, double-spaced, standard format.

The student will base the paper on a problem presented in an article in the popular press during the past year (January, 1992 on). To verify, a photocopy of the first page of the article will be presented. A list of suggested topics will be presented. Students should present a proposal of topic and article to the instructor before writing.

The most important aspect of the paper is that the writer use reasonable arguments, applying principles learned in the course, to an ethical problem. One technique for writing a reasoned disciourse is to make the object of one sentence the subject of the next. When it is no longer possible to do this, then it is time to start a new paragraph. Use principles learned in the course, such as the principle of double effect, indirect objects etc.., and if your topic is covered in some way in Man as Man, look at that as well.

Address the question of student:

If the light of what has been said, how can troops be sent into battle with the probability that many will be killed.

Answer: 1/ The war itself must be unavoidable. It must be a just war on the side of those committing the troops, but we will discuss the issue of what a just war is later. 2/ According to common ethical teachings, you cannot sent troops to a certain death, as that would be direct killing. It is appropriate on extremely risky missions to ask for volunteers, but whether this is the case in the military I do not know.

Any input from those versed in military matters would be most welcome.

Also: regarding pleasure: Sexual pleasure, like any pleasure is directed to certain ends by nature. Without the inducement of sexual pleasure, perhaps nobody would ever bother to have children, since the sacrifice and the difficulties are so daunting. Sexual pleasure is good within the context of marriage: 1/ it serves the purpose of procreation (at least there must be no intention of frustrating the natural faculty of reproduction by artificial means); 2/ it serves to bond the spouses to one another; 3/the pleasure is a good which makes life more bearable.

The question is: to what extent can one give way to pleasure. The reason, no doubt, is temporarily suspended during intense pleasure, but this does not mean that the act is necessarily irrational. This was the mistake of Mahatma Gandhi. While enjoying connubial bliss with his wife, a call came that his father was dying or had died. So engrossed was he, that he did not pick up the phone. Thereafter, he vowed that never again would sexual pleasure interfere with his reason, and he and his poor wife became celibate.

Yet here too, we must say that the end of pleasure must always be seen as subordinate to perfective ends. Even in marriage a certain amount of asceticism is necessary, a certain amount of self-restraint. Even in marriage, it is not right to treat one's spouse as a mere sex-object, but it must always be remembered that the spouse is a person. Sexual pleasure can blind one to this. The use of artificial contraceptives is an attempt to obtain the pleasurable good without the perfective goods of giving existence to new people and the making firm of the community of man and wife.

Also, St. Augustine, early after his conversion from Manicheanism, still maintained that pleasure was an evil, but later in his life he printed his "Retractiones" where he retracted many of the things he had written earlier.

Note on evil:

Absolute evil cannot exist. Example, in order for a bad theologian or philsopher to do harm, he must be a good writer. The better writer he is, the more damage he can do. In order for a criminal to do maximum harm, he must employ skill. So, absolute evil would be a non-existent.

end of supplement

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * start from here with 206D


1/ The Ought of Obligation arises only from the reason and the will of a superior embodied in Lw.

2/There exists in God an Eternal Law directive of all creatures unto the end of the universe.

Irrational creatures obey God's Law blindly, ruled by the Law of Nature. God, through the natural law, supplies a direction to man so that he may obtain his final end, and imposes a necessity upon him. Universal human experience points to one morality - some actions are always and everywhere perceived as evil.

The natural law consists in practical universal judgements which arise from within man. These express necessary and obligatory rules of human conduct. These rules have been established by God and are promulgated solely through the human reason.

These rules are not established by God's whim. There arise from the nature of things, from man's nature.

Cicero said "The Natural Law is Right Reason."

St. Thomas: "Every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it derives from the natural law. But if at any point it deviates from the natural law, it is no longer law but a perversion of law. (Summa Theologica I-II, 95,2)

How far does obligation extend?

We are obliged to seek those things necessary for our last end, and we are are obliged to avoid those things which would prevent us from achieving our last end.

Supererogatory acts (supererogatory=more than is asked for) are those acts which are good, but not obligatory.


A Sanction is the decree assigning a reward for observance and a punishment for violation, or the reward or punishment itself.

A sanction serves to preserve the moral order.

A sanction is a restoration or a vindication of moral order. (this is not petty vengeance on God's part, but is a requirement of His perfect justice.)

In a sanction there must be a proper proportion between the action and the reward or punishment of the sanction. Make the punishment fit the crime.


1/The individual order:

sanctions include

a/ the remorse of a bad conscience

b/ disease

c/ loss of self-control: becoming a slave to

one's passions

2/the social order:

sanctions incude:

a/domestic strife

b/bad relations between neighbours

c/war, economic depression

3/the universal order:

i.e. the complete moral order of man to his last end

The natural law has a perfect sanction, realizable only in a future life and consisting in the perpetual loss or attainment of beatitude. This sanction is realizable only in a future life. In this life, good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, so justice must exist in the future life if it is to exist at all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * up to here with 206 B


The reward for good actions. A meritorious act is one which is 1/ free; 2/ benefits others, where the benefit is something owed in justice to the recipient, provided that it was not owed on account of a reward already recieved.; 3/ is freely accepted by the recipient

CONDIGN MERIT: the reward demanded by justice

CONGRUOUS MERIT: a reward which fits the action only by analogy.

Man can CONDIGNLY merit beatitude from God. This merit rests not onl justice but in God's fidelity.

In giving man a natural urge for happiness, god has promised to reward good acts with beatitude! This is not mere justice, for God owes nothing to any other persons, but it is fidelity, for he is being faithful to his promises. His promise of beatitude is known through the natural law.



In itself, the Natural Law does not admit of change, since human nature is unchanging. Man is by essence a rational animal.

Our knowledge of the natural law, however, is subject to change.



"Good is to be done and sought after, evil is to be avoided."

"Do good and avoid evil"

No one can be ignorant of the primary principle.


Secondary principals are conclusions that follow immediately or easily from the first principle.

E.g. "Parents must rear their children.";

"Children must reverence their parents.";

No man of developed reason can be invincibly ignorant of this. (Bad upbringing, propagande, etc. can hinder development of reason).


Tertiary principals are more difficult conclusions which are not so strikingly clear. A man of developed reason may at times be inculpably ignorant (invincibly ignorant) of some of the principles of the Natural Law.

The natural law is insufficient. Its inadequacy is supplied for by positive law, which must be based on the Natural law.

Positive law is a supplement of the Natural Law.

Positive law - a rule of action freely chosen by a competent authority for the common good and promulgated not in the nature of the subject but in some external signs.

Divine positive law - e.g. ten commandments

Human positive law - Maritime law

Military law

Civil Law

Ecclesiastical (Church) Law

POSITIVE LAW - Declarative

- commands or forbids what is commanded or forbidden by the natural law. It merely DECLARES what the natural law commands.

- Determinative

- enjoins something which is not an evident deduction from the natural law (e.g. right turns permitted on red light)

* * *

THE MIDTERM WILL BE ONE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, from 7 to 9 pm. If anyone cannot attend at that time, then please contact your instructor.

ETHICS Friday, February 10

Note: The description of merit delivered in the last class or two was flawed in the second point. Here is the proper version:


The reward for good actions. A meritorious act is one which is 1/ free; 2/ benefits others, where the benefit is something owed in justice to the recipient, provided that it was not owed on account of a reward already recieved.; 3/ is freely accepted by the recipient



While the natural law is the complete and objective norm of morality, the conscience is the subjective norm of morality.

Sensu largo, conscience is all intellectual acts which discern the goodness and badness of a concrete human act.

Sensu stricto, conscience is the last practical judgement concerning the moral goodness of a human act here and now to be performed.

Antecedent conscience is conscience in the strict sense - i.e. preceding the act.

Consequent conscience - a moral judgement we form after we act, this is not a moral guide but mere hindsight.


The reason always has a role at the beginning of a judgement of conscience. Later, the judgements of conscience may be habitual, thus with less actual involvment of the reason.

Situation ethics is a false theory of conscience. It is prevalent among some theologians, especially Catholic ones. It denies the obliging power of universal norms, and stresses that every person and situation is different and unique. Thus there can be no universal moral rules. If however, things were so completely unique, the existence and use of language would be impossible! Situation ethics may lie at the root of many recent scandals within Catholic institutions.



Represents the objective moral situation


1/a valid law eg. gluttony is wrong

2/a true situation: eating these three pizzas would be


THEREFORE Eating these three pizzas would be wrong


has one or more of the following features:

1/misrepresents a law

e.g. "cheating the transit system is OK"

2/misrepresents the facts

e.g. "using another person's transfer

is not forbidden"

3/ draws a false inferenc

A Correct Conscience must be obeyed

An invincibly erroneous conscience must be obeyed.

A vincibly erroneous conscience must be corrected.

Each person according to his ability, age, etc. must make the proper effort to discover what his moral obligations are.



It is right to act if you are absoluteyly certain.


It is right to act if you are certain beyond reasonable doubts.


It is wrong to act with a doubtful conscience. A person in doubt must investigate before acting.


If one is compelled to act, but suspects that all possible courses of action involve some moral evil, then he has a perplexed conscience.


1/SCRUPULOUS - one is inclined by habit to judge that evil exists where it does not. Scrupulous persons refrain from many innocent actions. They should seek and follow advice from wise people.

2/PERPLEXED - The conscience is presented with two alternatives and both seem evil. e.g. conflict of duties. Such a person should seek advice, if possible.

3/ LAX - The lax conscience is inclined to avoid obligation for trifing of insufficient reasons.

e.g. Some people think that there is no obligation to find the owner of lost articles.

4/ TENDER - inclined to be aware of the smallest elements of moral evil. Though others think this is a scrupulous conscience, it is exact and true.


Objectively, there always is a right and a wrong answer in everal moral dilemna. The natural law, in itself, is complete, since the nature of things is as it is. Subjectively, however, there are situations in which the person with the a perplexed conscience may not be able to arrive at certainty. How should he act if the face of doubts?

If there is no question of the obligation, i.e. one is certain of the existence of an oblgition, but it is only a question of which means should be chosen, then one must ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SAFER MEANS. (Examples from medicine, investment, etc. are easy to find).

The doubt, again, may concern the goodness of badness of an act. There are several theories governing how one should behave.

1/RIGORISM - if in doubt as to an obligation, always act ias if there is an obligation.

2/PROBABILIORISM - one must choose for a possible obligation, unless its non-existence is mor probable.

3/EQUIPROBABILISM - if obligation and the freedom from an obligation are equally possible, then one is free.

4/PROBABILISM - a doubtful obligation is no obligation. One does not have to figure out which is more probable, the obligation or the freedom therefrom. A reasonable doubt releases one from obligation.

5/LAXISM - any argument against obligation is sufficient excuse.

The best theory in practice is probabilism. In favour of probabilism, one may argue thus: 1/ Something is either certain or probable; 2/ If something is probabke (i.e. uncertain but possible) then its opposite is also probable. 3/ The greater or lesser probability of one thing does not destroy the probability of its opposite.

* * *

Monday, February 15

Note: the various systems to guide action when one is faced with an unresolved doubt (rigorism, probabilism, laxism) are understood mostly in the context of the Catholic religion. In the Catholic religion it is recognized that the Pope has the final word in matters of faith and morals. Sometimes when faced with a dilemna, one cannot find any relevent statement by a Pope on the matter. In that case, it is necessary to consult theologians, who may differ among themselves. This is the context in which it is necessary to determine whether opinions are probable or not. The discussion of probabilism, rigorism, etc., would probably be of only limited use to those who are not Catholics, as outside the Catholic Church, there is no one source that is regarded as binding in matters of morality, or as having a unique authority. Perhaps these theories would apply to someone who seeks advice, but gets different opinions for different people.



Aristotle in Book I and X of the Nichomachean Ethics tries to determine what happiness is. He asks whether happiness is pleasure, which is rejected, because pleasure are short-lived.


Nichomachean Ethics, Books II, & VI

Higgins, Man and Man Ch. IX

What is a good man?

You can be a good artist, a good professor, a good lawyer without being a good man, but why can't you be a good husband or a good priest if you are not a good man? How will a good man talk, how will he act in danger, how will he act at parties and celebrations? Perhaps the answers will not be exact to the same degree in each case, but we all have some picture of what a good man or woman should be like.

The study of virtue will help to bring this in clearer focus. What then is virtue? It is some sort of goodness that a person has, some sort of strength of character.


1/ A habit is a stable and lasting disposition that is not merely part of our nature, but is acquired. Our nature must be capable of recieving a given habit. Habit can become like second nature.

2/Virtue is a habit which perfects man as man. Not every habit, not even every good one, gets the name of virtue.

3/ A Virtue inclines man to do the proper acts of man:

A virtue inclines a man to do the right things




Thus the person who refrains from overeating only with great personal effort is not yet virtuous, though on the road to virtue.

There are four cardinal virtues: PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, FORTITUDE, TEMPERANCE.

"Cardinal" comes from a word that means "hinge", and so all the other virtues depend upon or are included in these four cardinal virtues. It is also the case that either a person has all the virtues, or he has none. That is, one major vice corrupts the man as man, and so he cannot be virtuous. An imprudent man cannot be a truly brave or truly just man, etc.


The virtue of prudence is the virtue whereby our reason keeps its link with reality and gives appropriate commands. There are three components to prudence

1/ Memory - we know how things really were and how they really are

Opposed to this is the bad and easy tendency to paint a good picture of ourselves in our own minds, to gloss upleasant realities over.

2/ Docility - this does not mean simple-mindedness, but the ability to learn, to be open-minded, to be open and sensitive to reality

3/ Clear-headed Decisiveness (called SOLERTIA in Greek and Latin): When faced with a new situation, the prudent man can make a clear- headed decision in line with reality. The imprudent man may miss the mark either by being irresolute and indecisive, or by making rash and irrational decisions.

Why is prudence so important? In metaphysical terms: Being precedes truth, and Truth precedes the Good. Before we can successfully pursue what is good, we must know what is true, and what is true is what exists.

SYNDERESIS precedes prudence and moves it. It is the very primary reasoning where we know "Good must be done and evil avoided", or in Jozef Pieper's words "The good must be loved and made reality. Merely to know that we must to good is only the starting point. How do we know here and now what we must do to make good things reality?

Ethics 206, Part III

February 17 - March 1

Wednesday February 17


The democracy of the dead is tradition. All the people can be fooled some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but all the people cannot be fooled all of the time. Though not infallible, in many matters general opinion, if it is informed will be correct, and that is the basis of democracy. Tradition is like a deocrary in which not only people here and now, but the thinkers of the past have a voice.

A person who thinks that he has the answers by himslef is a know-it-all. He lacks one of the conditions of prudence, the virtue called docility, which is the ability to learn, and an openness to learning. Many philosophers have arisen who thought that they could start a new system from the very beginning, and somehow they would get it right, whereas everyone else got it wrong. Rousseau, Descartes, kant, Marx, Sartres - a few men who had this attitude. Yet the traditon still stands. It rejects failed ideas like the body develops antibodies against invading diseases.

Tradition does not mean a blind acceptance of the past. While Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Higgins (the author of MAN AS MAN) have their disagreements, they still place themselves within one and the same tradition. Later philopshers may correct them, may make new distinctions, but the philosophical traditon absorbs them.

The Golden Mean - Chapter II of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics

In many things Virtue is a middle ground between the extreme

of excess and the extreme of defect (too little). For example, goodness in eating is eating neither too much nor too little. But where is the mean of eating the right amount?

1/ It is different for different people;

2/ The man who has virtue in eating will have pleasure in eating the right amount of the right food, whereas gluttonly will cause him displeasure,

and too little food will as well.

3/ When we miss the mark in trying to hit the mean between two extremes, we usually err on the side of inordinate pleasure. Therefore we should examne where we are drawn by great pleasure, since that is most likely where we will discover a personal weakness.

4/ ASCETISISM - if we tend to an extreme because we are drawn to it, we must develop a new habit - act in the opposite direction - like the carpenter bends warped wood in the opposite direction to its warp in order to straighten it.

5/ Not every virtue admits of a mean - for example, in the matters of murder, adultery, lying, theft, there is no such things as "too little". Any degree of these is already too mcuh, since these are intrinsically evil things. For example, adultery or fornication is not made right because people think they are in love, or because the time is right, but are simply wrong. (Perhaps this is precisely the point at which situation ethics fails - they fail to see that some things do not admit of a mean)

CASUISTRY - a branch of ethics concerned with the analysis and evaluation of individual cases.

Casuistry is useful for people who are called on to judge particular cases, e.g. judges, priests in the confessional. Casuistry, though it has its place, cannot be a substitue for prudence for the following reasons;

1/ It is impossible to define in advance every possible case in writing.

2/ Casuistry is no substitute for prudence, which is always concerned with the uncertainty of the future.

3/ Whereas by the nature of things, in each situation there is an objective right or wrong, yet our knowledge is continually growing.

One outstanding example of casuistry is the tradition of British common law, where the law is finetuned when a judge makes a decision in a new situation and sets a precedent which will be followed.

Chapter VI of the NichoMachean Ethics deals with Prudence

Virtues are divided into intelletual virtues and practical virtues:

The intellectual virtues are:

1/ Wisdom - the knowledge of first principles

- of the order of things

2/ Intelligence - mental vision, intuition

3/ Scientific knowledge - certain knowledge obtained either by

3.1/ Induction - reasoning from particular details to first principles

3.2/ Deduction - reasoning from first principles to particular facts.

Scientific knowledge concerns things which do not change, e.g. mathematics, physical laws.

4/ Deliberation - this is what precedes a decision - it concerns the future, what may or may not be - the contingent.

You deliberate long but decide in an instant.

5/ Understanding - making correct judgements concerning particular contingent things.

6/Consideration - making correct judgements about what is equitable or fair - "the considerate man".

Since prudence concerns particular contingent things, it can only be acquired with experience. A young man may excel at mathematics but not at prudence.


"Justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each one his due with constant and perpetual will."

"SUUM CUIQUE" - "to each his own"

But how do we know what belongs to another? People get a right to some things by work that they do. Other things are theirs by their very nature, e.g. the right to life, the right to pursue a living, etc. etc.

Things cannot be owed to irrational creatures. Only rational creatures can have property. According to Plato (Socrates), the person who denies another what is his due harms himself most of all.

Things are due to another

1/ by natural right

2/ because of an agreement (provided the agreement is not contrary to natural right)

Justice and human rights are based on human nature (You can't make a binding promise to a dog, because he does not have a rational nature). So, it you deny human nature, you destroy human rights. Sartre denied any fixed human nature "Il n'y a pas de nature humaine." "There is no human nature." The Pol-Pot regime, the Khmer-Rouge of Cambodia, adopted Sartre as an ideological guru, as well as another french philosopher Roussea, who thought that man is morally good by nature, and corrupted only be society: thus they thought that if they could turn back the clock, destroy civilization and society and all memories thereof, they could make a paradise. Their aim was to create a "Year Zero", and so they killed all who wore glasses, all who could read or write, any one who might be infected with western civilization.

Likewise, in Nazi Germany, the prevailing legal theory was Legal Positivism, which denies natural law, and thus denies inalienable natural rights and the existence of one universal human nature, which is the foundation for these rights.

JUSTITIA EST AD ALTERUM - Justice is directed toward another person.

Justice concerns exterior acts. Even though a person's intentions & motives be noble, the act itself can be unjust.

Every external act is of social consequence TYPES OF JUSTICE

1/ The Order of Parts to Parts -

Commutative Justice

The justice between individuals - based on exchange (which is what "commutative" means).

QUID PRO QUO - something in exchange for another thin

This governs the relation of one individual to another Restitution - the restoration of what belong to a person,

to pay debts, to keep agreements between individuals

Commutative justice can very often be measured exactly, as exactly as the amount of money on an invoice.

2/The order of the Whole to the Parts

Distributive Justice

This is based on the relation of the whole community or the authority representing it to the individual. What does the state or those in authority owe to individuals.

Society owes to individuals the administration of criminal justice, application of sanctions, external defence. This goes beyond mere personal contracts. Some things can be determined only be the state, e.g. special recompense for those wounded in the line of duty. The state, for the common good of all the citizens, can also curtail the exercise of certain inalienable human rights to defend itself:

e.g. 1/ Quarantine of sick people with infectious diseases: this is an instance of the state depriving a person of the exercise of their inalienable rights without any fault of the person, yet the state is empowered to do so.

2/ Incarceration of criminals

3/ even taking the life of a criminal (for treason, murder, or some other very serious crime), for the person by doing the act has forfeited the exercise of their inalienable right to life, their right to live in society. In ancient times, people were banished for crimes, a fate thought to be worse than death.

4/ As an extraordinary measure, the state might grant public property to individuals, or redistribute property. For example, in the past land parcels would be granted to settlers on condition that they settle it. In Poland, after World War I, the land holdings of the aristocracy were redistributed among the peasants. The principle was that the institution of private property is something that exists for the good of society as a whole. The nation would be better served in that way it was thought.

Unjust government is one of the worst evils in the world. Unfortunately, it is impossible absolutely to prevent it.

1/ We need effective authority - too many checks and balances would prevent government from being effective. but

2/ if a tyrant takes power, there is no "higher authority" on earth to whom the oppressed may appeal to overthrow the decision of the tyrant.

The common good: Different people have different roles. E.g. Some may dedicate themselves to contemplation, which is something necessary for society. Not everyone can be forced into the same mold, and not everyone should get thesame reward. Liberalism (and Marxism) teach that the same reward should be due to every one, and that there should be no distinctions between persons., no distinction between those ruled and those who rule. Yet there must be respect for those who hold offices of great dignity. Some people are owed honour for outstanding service, bravery etc.

In one respect the person is a part in the whole of society, but he is not MERELY a part. The unity of the human person is metaphysically greater than the unity of the state. Only human persons can do human acts, and the state or the commuity can be said to act only in so far as some individual or individuals are acting in the name of the community. Therefore, the individual cannot be reduced to a mere part - there must be a respect for the individual person.

The acts of the whole are not the acts of the individual, and the acts of the individual are not the acts of the whole. This is often forgotten in discussions of "collective guilt".

Respect of Persons - when something is allotted a person out of proportion to what he deserves - is a great injustice.

Especially - conferring public office and positions of public authority without regard for qualifications. For example, conferring public office to others merely because they are relatives is called Nepotism. Another example of respect of persons - a teacher who would give a higher or lower grade to someone because of personal likes and dislikes.

In response to a question: How does this apply to the question of "affirmative action"? Without knowing all the facts of the laws in question, I would approach the matter as follows: if the state or society deprived a certain group of what was due to them, in this case with laws which prevented people of a certain race from access to education, or other goods, then it is within the power of the state to remedy the situation. The deprivation of rights concerned a whole class of people who thus suffered as a class (notwithstanding individual exceptions). I think that the state could give them extraordinary assistanace in gaining access to opportunity, for example in attaining an education, which for impoverished people might be difficult. But once the playing field has been levelled, the state should no longer interfere. There should also be a time limit on such affirmative action, perhaps enough time for one generation to become educated. After that it would run counter to its purpose.

Also, should the state compensate groups of people for injuries suffered in the distant past? For example, one country occupies another and displaces the people who live there, and settles its own people there. I would say that the former inhabitants would have a generation in which they could lay claim to their property, but after that justice would not be served by uprooting those who live there. Case in point: landlords who return after 50 years to Eastern European Countries demanding rent for buildings they owned. I think that their claim to those buildings is very weak after so many years, and to honour that claim would not serve the public good. In the case of affirmative action, however, the unjust laws which it is meant to remedy were in effect even during the 1960s - a mere quarter of a centruy ago.

Distributive Justice and Democracy

Democracy does not mean government by referendum. The person elected to power has real power, though only for a limited period. There are dangers always inherent in democracy. An elected ruler has the obligation to represent the good of all the citizens, but he must also represent his particular party. This places an obligation on the voter not merely to seek his own interest or the interest of his group, but to look to the good of the whole society. Also, the voter has the serious obligation to exercise great prudence and circumspection in selecting a leader. Thomas Aquinas said that tyrants arise more easily and frequently from democracies than from the rule of kings. Remember, Hitler won an election (whether through fair or foul means).

Since the ruler, or any official with the public trust, is entrusted with the distribution of what belongs not to him but to society as a whole, he must not only be a prudent and just man, he must be prudent and just to an eminent degree. The degree of virtue necessary in a ruler is so great that Thomas gives it a special name: Political Prudence.

Distributive Justice and Classes

There might be classes in society with legitimate interests. A class is a social segment that considers the prevailing method of sharing the total social product to be unjust and thus opposes it. In turn, those who seek to preserve the status quo may be polarized into another class. The existence of various classes, and disputes between them are natural in society.

Marxism and Political Liberalism, however, strive for a classless society. Marxism seeks to put the proletariat or working class above all others, that it should be victorious and destroy all other classes, and even cease to be the working class. In the process, however, all social order is destroyed. The rule of law ceases.

3/ Legal Justice:

The order of the part to the whole:

What the individual owes to society

Our debt to society, whether the society of our family, to the state, or to civilization as a whole, cannot really be paid. PIETAS - piety - in the original sense, is the recognition that one owes something to another that cannot be fully repaid. Piety, then, in the original sense, includes reverences towards parents, patriotism towards one's country, religion towards God.

It is wrong to look at the state like some impersonal machine. The ancient philosophers, and people in general recognized that in a certain way they owed their very existence to the state, and so had a debt that could not be fully repaid. They had a duty to do what the state obligated them to do, and as citizens, they also had a duty to see that good laws be enacted. Later philosophers, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hume, Roussea, saw the state as something arbitrarily existing, an engine of efficiency, the organized force of the strong against the weak. The state represents the common good, all the citizens. JUSTICE and LOVE

Justice is necessary, without justice love would be impossible, but justice is not enough for living a good life. For life to be worth living in a society, there must also be mercy, charity, friendship, otherwise justice will be grim and mechanical.

Plato: to many doctors in a society show that people have lost common sense with regard to being healthy. Too many lawyers in society show that people have lost common sense with regard to their relations with their fellow citizens.

Observantia - the respect due to someone, e.g. to someone honoured by the state - e.g. we owe respect to someone on account of their office. There are many examples, e.g. reverence (not merely patronizing) for the elderly, using proper titles when addressing people, a judge is "your honour", a policeman is "officer", a priest is "father" etc. Informality, e.g. the person in authority says "Just call me Jim", actually helps destroy the fabric of society.


The third cardinal virtue is fortitude: it requires prudence and justice. Fortitude (bravery, courage) is the willingness to risk injury or death to obtain a reasonable good.

Prudence is necessary, since in order to be brave the person must be able to weigh the risks and the good which is sought. One maxim that apply here: "Fortitude must not trust itself."

Justice is necessary, since the person who risks his life for something unworthy is not brave. If one is going to risk death, there must be a just cause.


1/ During a storm the passengers on a boat might be terrified, whereas the sailors go about their work. The sailors are not necessarily brave, because with their experience they know there is no real danger.

2/ The criminal resists a superior force of police officers to the death. He is not brave since he is risking his death for something unjust.

The brave person values his personal integrity more than life itself. He does not seek to be injured.


1/ PATIENT ENDURANCE is a part of fortitude. The person who commits themselves to do their duty consistently is brave. They stick to their post no matter what. E.g. the person who adopts a rule of life in a religious order is giving up their life by abandoning their own inclinations in order to live a life of obedience and sacrifice. The person who enters marriage and is committed to be absolutely faithful to their spouse, through sickness and health is showing courage. Thomas Aquinas said "In patience man possesses his soul."

Patient endurance does not mean mere passivity. To be patient means to retain composure and serenity of mind in spite of injuries resulting from realizing a good. What about "turning the other cheek"?

Here is what Thomas Aquinas writes: "We must understand the Sacred Scripture in the light of what Christ and the saints have actually practised. Christ did not offer the other cheek, nor did St. Paul. Therefore, to understand the command of the Sermon on the Mount literally is to misunderstand it. This command signifies that the soul should be ready to bear, IF IT BE NECESSARY, such things and worse, without bitterness to the attacker. Our Lord showed this readiness when He gave up His body to be crucified. That response of the Lord was useful, therefore, for our instruction." (Commentary of St. Thomas on the Gospel of John.) We see that Christ threw the money-changer out of the temple violently (an example of the readiness to pounce on evil.)

2/ ATTACK: this is the READINESS TO POUNCE ON EVIL, which is helped by JUST WRATH. As said earlier "You cannot love the good unless you hate evil". This is the more obvious type of fortitude.

FORTITUDE: Vital, Moral and Mystic

1/ VITAL FORTITUDE: also called "premoral fortitude" - some degree of fortitude is necesssary merely for mental health. People who are excessively concerned with their own security, who avoid pain as the greatest evil, can become neurotics.

2/ MORAL FORTITUDE - a man needs fortitude to be morally good. This is the order of natural ethics.

3/ MYSTIC FORTITUDE - this implies a trustful surrender to God's providence. In some cases, the person has a special gift from God with which they co-operate, such as a very strong hope in eternal life, and this allows them to face some extraordinarily difficult trials. One implication, a person cannot volunteer to be a martyr unless they are called to that by God. A person who seeks martyrdom for their own glory will fail when things really get hot.

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Final remark on Fortitude:

Fortitude is necessary in ordinary political life. Things do not turn out as they should without people who are willing to make sacrifices.



Temperance is self-preservation, but is not selfish. In temperance one turns towards one's self, which can happen in two ways:

1/ Narcissism - Narcissus was a legendary Greek youth who saw his reflection in the water and become engrossed in it. The gods changed him into a flower that hangs over the age of water. Narcissism is an exclusive pre-occupation with one's self.

2/ Genuine self-preservation: one watches oneself, but is not pre-occupied with oneself.

Human beings are not merely a collection of blind forces; the human being has a center, that which each one calls "I". Due to disorder in man, it seems that parts of man and forces have a life of their own. As Saint Paul says "It is not the good my will approves but the evil my will disapproves that I find myself doing." (Paul's Epistle to the Romans. 7, 19). It is still "I" who do the thing.

Freud, on the other hand, based his whole picture of the normal human person on cases of mentally ill people, where the reason was no longer in command. In the words of Joseph Pieper in "The Four Cardinal Virtues" - "Psychotherapy without metaphysics or religion tends to produce an anxiously fostered middle-class tranquillity, poisoned by its triteness."

In Greek it is SOPHROSYNE from SOZEIN - to save and PHRONESIS - prudence. Temperance is that which preserves prudence.

It disposes various parts into a unified and ordered whole. Temperance withdraws man from things that are against reason, ut does not withdraw man from pleasure as such.

"TEMPERANTIA RETRAHIT AB HIS QUAE CONTRA RATIONEM APPETITUM ALLICIUNT": Temperance pulls one away from those things that attract the appetite contrary to reason. Thus temperance also disposes us to accept the sadness that befalls us when great pleasures are withdrawn.

Temperance properly concerns the desires and pleasures associated with the sense of touch. Pleasures are the natural companions of operations which are natural to man: the more natural an operation is, then more vehement is the delight associated with it. The most natural and pleasurable operations are those that preserve the individuals through food and drink, and then those that preserve the species through the union of male and female.

So temperance primarily concerns the pleasures of food and drink and venereal pleasures, secondarily it concerns other pleasures. (The pleasure of food is more in the sense of touch than the sense of taste, as the food moves through the digestive system).

Is temperance only for happiness in this world?

The moral object of temperance is in this world, to keep one's self whole, but the motive is beatitude, happiness, which ultimately must be eternal happiness. It is more difficult to resist the attraction of pleasure than to resist the call of anger. Anger passes in a moment but desire for pleasure lingers, so it is more difficult to govern the appetite for pleasure than the force of anger.

How does temperance rank among the cardinal virtues?

Aristotle said "The good of the many is a nobler thing than the good of one alone."

Prudence is the primary virtue, since it is our link with reality without which we cannot act as humans. Justice concerns the good of the many, and fortitude is concerned with facing personal injury and death in order to preserve the common good. Temperance, however, is more concerned with the self-mastery of the individual, and it affects the common good only indirectly.

The vices opposed to Temperance:

1/ Insensibility - where a person errs by resisting pleasure at all times, is a vice. Thus, if a person fasts to the point where he actually weakens his natural sexual desire or destroys it, he is doing wrong. The miser who resists pleasure because he has to spend money is also wrong.

(see Summa Theologica, II-II, question 142, a.1)

2/ Intemperance - making pleasure and personal satisfaction the ultimate good.

3/ Incontinence - a failure in self-control, usually less serious than a fixed attitude of intemperance.


1/ Integral Parts: the conditions necessary for the virtue

1.1/ VERECUNDIA - being shamed of things which are disgraceful because they are contrary to temperance;

1.2/ HONESTAS - integrity, authenticity: whereby one loves the beauty of temperance; the beauty of temperance is an inner beauty, but is also seen a person's external actions and demeanour. Temperance is beautiful because it liberates one from being a slave of the passions.

2/ Subjective parts: there will be different species of temperance according to the variety of matter or objects:

2.1/ ABSTINENTIA - abstinence - practicing temperance with respect to food;

2.2/ SOBRIETAS: temperance with respect to beverages, esp. adult beverages;

2.3/ CASTITAS- chastity: temperance with respect to the chief pleasure of sexual coitus;

2.4/ PUDICITIA - bashfulness: temperance with respect to the pleasures circumstantial to coitus: the pleasures of touching, kissing, embracing.

With regard to sexual pleasure: sexual pleasure is a good and it is necessary. Thomas writes: " The more necessary something is, the more must the order of reason be preserved in it."

Then, is the order of reason lost in the actual moment of intense pleasure?

Thomas writes: "As long as the sexual act itself corresponds to the rational order, the abundance of pleasure does not conflict with the proper mean of virtue...And even that the reason is unable to make a free act of cogntion of spiritual things simultaneously with that pleasure does not prove that the sexual act conflicts with virtue ... For it is not against virtue that the workings of reason are sometimes interrupted by something that takes place in accordance with reason; otherwise it would be contrary to virtue to sleep."

What then is the order of reason with respect to sexual activity?

The goods to be realized are the three-fold goods of marriage: 1/the good of procreation - a married couple must be open to procreation, not taking steps to thwart nature. 2/ the unitive good - the sexual act unites the couple, 3/ the good of pleasure - spouses should try to please one another.

3/ Potential Parts: these are secondary virtues observing the same measure with regard to some other matter. These virtues are joined to temperance. Temperance moderates us in pleasure of touch; so other types of moderation are related to temperance when they moderate us in other pleasures:

3.1/ CONTINENTIA - continence - whereby a man is not conquered, even though he is assailed by inordinate desires for pleasure.

3.2/ HUMILITAS - humility - whereby a man can resist the movement of false hope, and consequently can resist the desire to act impulsively.

3.3/ MANSUETUDO - CLEMENTIA - mildness - whereby a man can resist the motion of anger moving him to vengeance.

3.4/ MODESTIA - modesty - concerning the movements and acts of the body. This concerns how when moves, how one speaks, how one dresses, etc..

Unchastity destroys the structure of the person; it falsifies prudence; it blinds the spirit. "The being of man in its essence consists in this: to be in accord with reason. If therefore a man keeps to what is in accord with reason, he is said "to keep himself within himself"" Unchastity makes it possible to see the world as it is. Just as a lion sees a deer only as a meal, so the unchaste person cannot see others except as sex objects. But there are two kinds of unchastity:

1/ INCONTINENCE: a mere lack of self-control, but the person does not lose their sense of decency and repents if they do wrong;

2/ INTEMPERANCE: a disorder in one's entire attitude toward pleasure.

But "to the pure all things are pure".

Thomas writes: "There is not much sinning because of natural desires ... but the stimuli of desire which man's cunning has devised are something else, and for the sake of these one sins very much."


Thomas writes "Virginity is held in honor not because it is virginity, but becasue it is consecrated."

Celibacy by itself is not a good, but it is only good if one gives up the right to marry for the sake of some greater good

Is Celibacy contrary to nature?

There is an obligation to preserve one's own life, and that obligation binds every individual. There is an obligation to preserve the life of the species, but the obligation can still be fulfilled if some individuals do not procreate. The obligation to preserve the species belongs in a way to the whole community. Some individuals, for the good of the community, may relinquish procreation.

The state in the bedrooms of the nation?

One implication of this is that, since the preservation of the species belongs to the common good, sexual activity is not merely an individual matter. The state can use its power to encourage people to have children, and help them to raise their children, and it can also prohibit vicious activity, such as pornography, promiscuity, and other things which act against the common good of preserving the species. In fact, the state has more of a right and/or obligation to do this than to restrict citizens in what they can eat or the drugs they can ingest, since these may harm the individual but not directly do they harm the public good.


The natural law commands occasional fasting, since fasting allows us to regain control over ourselves. Fasting is restricting food intake, and abstaining from alcoholic drinks. But exaggerated fasting is wrong. Aquinas writes: "If one knowingly abstained from wine to the point of oppressing nature serously, he would not be free of guilt," and "for a man it is sinful that he would weaken his sexual power by fasting too strictly."

Fasting should be with HILARITAS MENTIS - cheerfulness of heart. Without fasting, one falls prey to HEBETUDO SENSUS - one's sense becomes dull, one's inner perception of spiritual realities is obscured.


The sense of touch is greater in man than in other animals.


Man naturally seeks excellence, and should seek honour. But the high-minded man also knows how to put honour in its place. He knows that there is a greater good than honour. So in humility, a man knows his place before God. Man is humbly subject to other men only insofar there is something of God in others, e.g. one is subject to authority because it comes from God.


Aquinas: "The power of anger is given to sentient beings so that the hindrance may be removed whereby the force of desire is impeded from striving toward its object, whether because of the difficulty of achieving a good or because of the difficulty of overcoming an evil."

"Because man's nature is made up of body and soul, of spirit and sensuality, it belongs to the good of man to devote himself utterly to virtue, namely with spirit, sensuality, and the body alike. Therefore man's virtue requires that the will for just retribution reside not only in the spiritual realm of the soul, but also in sensuality and in the body itself."


While temperance primarily concerns the sense of touch, there is a kind of temperance which governs our desire for knowledge, since it moderates it. Virtue in the desire for knowledge is called STUDIOSITAS - the right measure in the desire for knowledge, wherein one applies one's mind, and resists the seduction of knowing unnecessary things.

The vice of excess in the pursuit of knoweldge is CURIOSITAS - an immoderate desire for knowledge, e.g. if one should try and second-guess God as when someone guesses that God is punishing a person when some calamity befalls them. CURIOSITAS tries to unveil God's inscrutability. It is manifest in an interest in magic, restlessness of mind, "new-age" thinking.


No virtue can exist without prudence, since every moral virtue concerns choosing the right action, which cannot be done without prudence. Neither can prudence be possessed unless one possesses the other moral virtues. Prudence is RECTA RATIO AGIBILIUM - right reason concerning things that can be done, but without the particular virtues one is limited in what one can do. E.g. without patience one cannot endure the trials of marriage and raising children, so it is not AGIBILE, it is not doable, no matter how much you reason about it.

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Notes on Readings from the First Semester

Ethics 206

Plato's Republic Book I

Socrates to Cephalus: Justice is not truth-telling and giving things back. If your friend in sound mind borrowed weapons, should he become insane you need not return them nor need you always tell him the truth.

Justice is giving each his due. But what is that which is due to each individual and what discipline, art or science, determains this?

Is it just to benefit friends and harm enemies? If so, is a friend one who is good and an enemy one who is evil? This idea of what the just is is befitting to an Eastern Potentate, Xerxes perhaps.

Thrasymachus holds forth that justice is that which pleases the ruling party in a state, i.e. those who possess the most strength. (Justice comes out of the barrel of a gun).

Socrates says: A physician looks not to his advantage, but to that of the patient, in as much as he is practicing medicine. So too the ruler, in as much as he is a ruler, looks to the advantage of the ruled.

Thrasymchus: the ruler is more like a shepherd, and the subjects like sheep, for a shepherd seeks his own profit and advantage of his sheep.

Socrates: The shepherd, as shepherd, is concerned for the well- being of the sheep.

Thrasymachus holds forth that injustice inflicted by the strong upon the weak offers more advantages than does justice, and so we should prefer injustice to justice.

Socrates holds that people do not willingly hold office without some recompense, and so therefore they must be rendering some service to others in being rulers. Injustice brings factions, justice brings oneness of mind among many people.

If you hold that injustice is better than justice, then perfect injustice would be better than a smaller degree of injustice. But a group of unjust men could band together in order to lord it over others. They would need to act fairly to one another, or else, if they took advantage of each other at every turn, their confederacy would crumble.

There is a virtue of the eyes, of the ears, and so forth. There is also a virtue of the soul, and that is justice. Without justice the soul could not fulfill its proper function. Nichomachean Ethics

Book I

i. Every art and every undertaking aims at some good. Thus, the Good is that at which all things aim. There is an hierarchy among goods, with some being sought on their own account, while others are sought as means. Also, there is a similar hierarchy among sciences and undertakings.

ii. Some goods are subordinate to others. This cannot go on to infinity, but there must be a supreme good. Now, the good of the many is better than the good of only one alone, and so the study of the supreme good is also in a sense the study of politics.

iii. The things studied by ethics are the objects of controversy, namely, the Good and Justice. The discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics must be general, as suits the subject matter. It is the mark of an educated mind to expect that amount of exactness in each kind which the nature of the particular subject matter admits. Merely probable conclusions, though required of the mathematician, are not required of the orator.

Again, life experience is needed to judge on ethical questions, and this is lacking among the young. If, however, the young wish to practise self-restraint, they may free their judgement from the rule of the passions and benefit from a study of ethics.

iv. Politics is occupied with the highest good for the greatest number, but there is disagreement on what this good should be. Many think it to be some visible good, others think it to be some disembodied good.

Some arguments start from first principles, others lead back to first principles. In other words, some start from what is knowable in itself, and then lead to what is knowable to us, whereas others start from what is knowable to us and lead back to what is knowable in itself.

The man of good moral training knows first principles already, or can easilyl acquire them. (Connatural knowledge)

v. There are three modes of life: the life of enjoyment (`o bios `o apolaustikos), the life of politics (politikos), and the life of contemplation (`o theoretikos). Most people prefer a life fit only for cattle. (up to page 15).

'o bios apolaustikos - hte life of pleasure - most people prefer the life of pleasure, but it is a life fir only for cattle.

'o bios politikos - the political life, whose end in honour ('h timh). but honour is relative, being a relation between the one giving honour and the one who is honoured, and it seems to be more in the one giving honour than in the one recieving it. Honour is sought on account of virtue 'H ARETH.

Is virtue then a proper end? Some possess a virtue and never get to exercise it. Virtue is possessed even when people sleep, when it does them no good. Virtuous people also often live a life of misery.

'O BIOS THEORETIKOS - the contemplative life, which will be discussed later.

'O BIOS CHRHMATISTHS - the life of money making.

Examination of the notion of a universal good.

TO KATHOLOU BELTION - proposed by Plato, is rejected as false even by Aristotle. The word "good" is used in as many senses as the word "is". An ideal good would not have any more goodness than a concrete good. This is an attack on Plato's theory of ideas.

Goods (TAGATHA) are of two types: 1/things good in themselves; 2/things good as a means to these.

How are diverse things called good? Perhaps things are good by way of proportion, KAT' ANALOGIAN, e.g. sight is good in the body, intelligence is good in the soul. In the arts, good is that for the sake of which everything else is done. `OU CHARIN TA LOIPA PRATTETAI. If there is something for the sake of which all human action is done - this will be the PRACTICABLE GOOD - TO PRAKTON AGATHON.

Some ends are absolute, Others are relative, i.e. they may be the ends of certain actions, but in turn they are means to a greater end. We always choose happiness `H EUDAIMONIA - for its won sake, never as a means to an end.

The self-sufficiency - `H AUTARKEIA - of happiness: happiness, by itself, makes life full and lacking in nothing.

Happiness, therefore, as final and self-sufficient, is the end at which all actions aim.

Is there any function (ERGON) for man as man (not as shoemaker, builder, physician etc.), but proper to man as such?

1/ Living - TO ZHN - mere life is common also to plants, so it cannot be that which is proper to man.

2/ Sentient life - `H ZWH AISTHHTIKH - shared by all animals.

3/ The practical part of the rational life of man - PRAKTIKH TIS TOU LOGOU ECHONTOS

3.1 Obedient to principle - EPIPEITHES LOGWj

3.2 possessing principle and exercizing intelligence - TO D' `WS ECHON KAI DIANOOUMENON

The active exercize of the rational faculty is more pertinent to happiness.

The function of man is the active exercise of the soul's faculties in conformity with rational principle


This actiity must last one's whole life - one swallow does not make a spring - MIA GAR CHELIDWN EAR OU POIEI -

neither does one day of happiness make one happy.

Threefold division of goods:

1/ external - EKTOS

2/ of the body - PERI SWMA

3/ of the soul - PERI PSYCHHN

Goods of the soul are good in the fullest sense.

Happiness is activity in conformity with virtue. Virtuous action also carries its wn feeling of pleasure within itself, whereas common pleasures are a sort of appendage. Happiness, however, requires certain external goods; just as many activities require the appropriate instruments, so happiness requires some measure of external propsperity.

How is happiness acquired? Perhaps it is a gift of the gods. Happiness, however, obtained by personal effort would be better than happiness arbitrarily imposed, and since in the world of nature things have a natural tendency to be ordered in the best possible way, it is most likely that it is so.

Solon said "Look to the end" - but if happiness is an activity, how can it be enjoyed by the dead? Even in adversity, the happy man will make the best of things, as a shoemaker will make the best shoe possible even if all he has to work with is bad leather.

The soul has several part:

1/ the vegetative - PHYTIKOS

2/ a part which though not rational, seems to participate in the rational principle. This is the seat of the appetites, which is rational in so far as it is obedient to reason.

3/ the rational

In this connection, we may divide the virtues into:

1/intellectual virtues:

wisdom, intelligence, prudence

2/moral virtues:

liberality, temperance, etc.

Nichomachean Ethics Book II

There are two kinds of virtues: intellectual and moral. The moral virtues are not innate, they are not in us by nature, but nature gives us the ability to acquire them. Virtues are acquired by practice: the more often you do something well, the more you acquire the habit of doing it well. We become brave by doing brave things; we become just by doing just things. Likewise, we can develop vices by repeated bad actions. Thus, childhood training is very important.

A principle is presented as common ground "to act in conformty with right reason" - KATA TON ORTHON LOGON PRATTEIN.

There is only a small degree of precision possible in in this area of discussion.

Virtue is destroyed by excess and by defect - by too much and too little. For example, the truly courageous man is mid between the defect of cowardice and the excess of being rash.

Virtue is accompanied by a pleasure. The temperate man has a certain pleasure with eating neither too much nor too little. The intemperate man, however, will not take pleasure in this. Thus, education (training) in part consists in developing a liking for what is good, a dislike for what is bad.

Moral virtue is the quality of acting in the bast way inrelation to pleasures and pains, and vice is the opposite.

It is harder to fight against pleasure than it is to fight against anger.

Conditions for a virtuous act: 1/ acting in knowledge; 2/acting with deliberate choice; 3/ the act must spring form a fixed disposition of character. It is not enough to know about virtue, but one must act on it, otherwise one is like the patient who goes to the doctor, then ignores the doctor's instructions.

Virtue is not an emotion, nor the capacity for an emotion, but is a disposition to excellence, which both make its possessor excellent and make his actions excellent.

The mean - TO ISON -

The mean is the right amount in the middle between too much and too little. The right amount may vary for individuals. Virtue allows one to hit the mean. It is easy to miss the target, difficult to hit it: goodness is simple, whereas badness is manifold.

Virtue is a settled disposition of the mind determinging the choice of actions and emotions, consisting in observing the mean relative to us. The mean is determined as a prudent man would determine it.

Not every action admits of a mean - e.g. there is no mean between too little theft and too much theft, adultery is wrong, and being with the "right woman, at the right time," etc. does not matter.

Particular Virtues seen in light of the mean, the excess, and the defect:

1/Courage: ANDREIA - (fortitude) - the mean between fear and overconfidence.

2/Temperance - SWPHRASUNH - the mean between too much and too little pleasure.

3/ Liberality - ELEUTHERIOTUS - the mean between prodigality and stinginess in the spending of money.

4/ Magnanimity - MEGALOPSYCHIA - the mean between caring too little for honour (small-souledness - MIKROPSYCHIA) and caring too much for honour (vanity - CHAUNOTHS.



5/ with respect to social amusement - the mean is urbanity - EUTRAPELIA - the excess is buffoonery (BWNOLOCHIA), the defect is boorishness - AGROKIA.

With virtues that aim at a mean, there will be two vices, one for excess, one for defect. The person who has a vice, however, often thinks that he is hitting the mean, and will thus see others who actually do hit the mean as being extreme in one way or another. E.g. the coward calls the brave man rash, while the rash man calls the brave man a coward.

On correcting vices: we can notice where we tend to miss the mean by seeing what we take pleasure in, and then steering away from that thing, just as carpenters see which way wood is warped and then bend it in the opposite direction. Sometimes, in matters where it is difficult to establish where the mean is, we may lean sometimes to the side of excess, sometimes to the side of defect, and we will be overall hitting the mark.

Nichomachean Ethics Book VI

The mean is between excess and defect, and is prescribed by the right principle, `O LOGOS `O ORTHOS.

In regard to morals, a man must know where to aim, and he must "fine tume" his actions by the right principle `O ORTHOS LOGOS.

The soul has various parts

1. Irrational - TO ALOGON

2. Rational - TO LOGON ECHON

The rational souls is further subdivided\

2.1 TO EPISTEHMONIKON - contemplating first principles which are unchanging

2.2 TO LOGISTIKON - contemplating things that admit of variation, the calculative part

There are three elements in the soul which control action:

1. Sensation - AISTHEHSIS - sensation, however, does not originate action (PRAXIS)

2, Intellect - NOUS - which performs affirmation and denial - KATAPHASIS KAI APOPHASIS

3. Desire - `OREXIS - pursuit and avoidance - DIWXIS KAI PHYGEH

For action to be good, the intellect must be true and the desire must be right.

The efficient cause (KINEHSIS) of action (PRAXIS) is choice (PROAIRESIS). The cause of choice is desire (`OREXIS) and reasoning directed to an end (LOGOS `O `ENEKA TINOS).

Thought by itself moves nothing. Choice is a union of thought and desire.

Man as an originator of action is a union of desire and intellect.

Choice and deliberation are not concerned with the past, but are about contingent future events.

There are five qualities through which the mid achieves truth in affirmation and denial:

1/ technique - TECHNEH

2/ scientific knowledge - EPISTEHMEH

3/ prudence - PHRONEHSIS

4/ wisdom - SOPHIA

5/ intelligence - NOUS

Scientific knowledge: EPISTEHMEH -

concerned with invariable objects,

objects which exist of necessity (EX ANAGKEHS),

and thus which are eternal (AIDION),

communicable by teaching,

and thus known from facts previously known,

either by induction (DI EPAGOHGEHS)

which goes from particular things

to first principles

or by deduction (SYLLOGISMOHJ)

which leads from first principles to particulars

Variable things include things done (PRAKTON) and things made (POIEHTON). Art (TECHNEH) is concerened with making and studies how to bring a thing into being whose efficient cause lies in the maker. Art is a rational quality concerning making which reasons truly:


* * * Prudence - PHRONESIS * * *

Prudence is not deliberation about some one restricted area of life, but about life in general.

* * * Deliberation - BOULEHSIS * * *

Deliberation concerns things which may or may not happen and concerns things which are within one's power to do. Prudence is not art since it does not aim at production PER SE, but at acting well (EUPRAXIA). Prudence is a rational quality which attains truth, which concerns action, concerning things good and bad for man.

* * * Temperance - SOHPHROSUNEH * * *

Temperance preserves prudence (Temperance - SOHPHROSUNEH, it saves - SWjZOUSAI, prudence - TEHN PHRONEHSIN)

A man affected by love of pleasure or fear of pain fails to see the first principles of action - that he might act towards proper ends.

Prudence as regards the state is called Legislative Science, as regards particular occurrences it is called Political Science. Prudence also concerns one's own actions, but one cannot be isolated from others in society, since domestic economy and politics are necessary for personal welfare.

A young man may excel in geometry and math, but not in prudence, since it includes a knowledge of particular facts, which are learned over time from experience.

Deliberative Excellence - EUBOULIA - Correctness in deliberation - a part of prudence - you deliberate long but decide in an instant

Understanding - `OH SYNESIS

Good understanding - `EH EUSYNESIA

Understanding concerns contingent things, and merely makes judgements.

Consideration - GNOHMEH - judging correctly what is equitable - in the sense of "being considerate".

Intelligence - `O NOUS concerns definitions, and ultimate things - an intuitive grasp of meaning, an immediate perception.

We should pay attention to the unproved assertions of people old or experienced since "experience has given them an eye for things, and they see correctly."

Cleverness - DEINOTEHTA - concerning attainment of an aim; it is good if the aim is good, bad if the aim is bad.

The supreme good appears good only to the good man, whereas vice preverts the mind and causes it to hold false views about the first principles of conduct.
Virtues cannot exist in isolation from one another.

Nichomachean Ethics

Book 10

There is a discussion of pleasure, seeing that pleasure is congenial to all, and pleasure and pain are used to steer the young in educating their temperament. Some say that pleasure is an evil, but this is contrary to life. There are various theories on pleasure:

Eudoxus: all creatures seek pleasure, so it is the Supreme Good.

Plato: the pleasure is not a supreme good since it can be made better by the addition of some other good.

Some say the Good is perfect (TELEION), but pleasure is a motion or process. But this is not true: you can BECOME pleasured quickly, but you cannot BE pleased quickly.

Is pleasure a process of generation? If so, once generation is done, there would be pain. Indeed, regarding food replenishment is pleasurable, while it is preceded by hunger which is painful. But knowledge is pleasurable, without the lack of knowledge being painful in itself. There is no necessary antecedent pain to the pleasure of knowledge. Also, in the pleasure of knowledge, and in olfactory pleasure, nothing is being generated.

Regarding disreputable pleasures:

one may deny that they are really pleasant, except for people who are ill-conditioned, or that though certain things are pleasant, they are not pleasant when ill-gotten. Also, pleasure from a good satisfies us better than mere pleasure. For example, the words of the flatterer please more than the words of a friend, but are desired less. Also, no one would wish to keep the pleasures of a child if it meant remaining with the mind of a child.

The nature of pleasure

Pleasure is not a motion. Like seeing, vision, pleasure is completely what it is at every moment of its duration. Every moment of pleasurable consciousness is a perfect whole.

For each sense or faculty, the greatest pleasure occurs when the faculty is in good condition and when it is directed at the best possible object. The pleasure does not perfect the activity the same way that the faculty or the object perfect it, yet it does perfect the activity as something added on, as icing on a cake.

No one can feel pleasure continuously. New things pleasure us, but when we are used to them, the pleasure diminishes. The mind acts vigorously toward a new object, less vigorously toward the familiar.

Life is an activity, and so pleasure is a part of life. To live well is associated closely with appropriate pleasure. As there are different activities, so there are different pleasures.

What one does with pleasure, one does better. For example, students do better in those subjects which are pleasurable to them.

Pleasures are perceived differently, for example, food is different to the sick man and to the healthy man. What pleases the good man is a good pleasure.

There are pleasures specific to each animal, and to each function. What pleasure is distinctively human? If there is a uniquely human activity, then the pleasure associated with that activity will be uniquely human.

To recapitulate what was said on happiness: 1/happiness is not a certain disposition of character, for the sleeper still has his dispositions, though they are not exercised; 2/ happiness must be an activity, but 3/it is not an activity for the sake of something else, but 4/it must be an activity for its own sake, since happiness lacks nothing and is self-sufficient.

An activity desirable for itself aims entirely at the mere exercise of the activity. To perform an action in accordance with virtue is something desirable for its own sake.

Is happiness to be found in amusements, since amusements seem to be sought for their own sakes? Though many pursue amusements, happiness is in that which seems pleasurable to the good man, not merely to anyone, and the best attitude toward amusement is that of Anacharsis "Play in order that you may work". Amusement is a form of rest, and therefore not an end.

Happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue, and it seems that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue, i.e. with the best part of us. The highest activity in man is contemplation, since it is activity of the intellect (the highest faculty in man) and its object are the noblest or highest things. The contemplative man can exercise his distinctive excellence without others, so he is self-sufficient. This is not the case with the just man, who needs others if he is to be just.

There is something divine about the conemplative life: a man achieves it thanks to something within him which is divine. That which is best and most pleasant for each creature will be is that which is proper to the nature of each. The intellect is best in man, and so man's happiness is in the exercise of the intellect.

The life of the moral virtues is happy only in a secondary degree, as the moral virtues require external things as the occasion of their exercise.

The gods are considered happy. What do they do, according to general opinion? Actions of human virtue all seem too little for the gods. What remain but contemplation? God's activity is contemplation.

Lower animals do not partake of contemplation. Animals cannot be happy. Contemplation and happiness are coterminous. Moderate external resources are necessary for the happiness of contemplation.

How does one come to possess virtue? It is not enough merely to hear discourses, or to give them, on this subject. If a listener is not well-disposed because of personal habits and upbringing, talk will not do much good. Character is secured by being brought up under the right laws. While it is not easy, especially for the young, to live temperately and hardily, the rule of law over the young can help them develop these things. The law has more purpose than to educate: it must also chastise those who will not learn virtue, for some will obey only pain, like brute animals.

If the law does not help in forming the character of the young, then it would be the duty of the individual to assist his own children and friends in attaining virtue.

The next discussion will concern what constitutes a well- governed state (The Politics).

Summa Theologica

(the following questions from the Summa have been covered in class and in Higgins, in basically the same way)

q, 6 aa, 1-8

a. 1. Whether there is anything voluntary in Human Acts

a. 2 Whether there is anything voluntary in Irrational Animals

a. 3 Whether there can be voluntariness without any act

a. 4. Whether violence can be done to the will

a. 5 Whether violence causes involuntariness

a. 6 Whether fear causes what is involuntary absolutely

a. 7 Whether concupiscence causes involuntariness

a. 8 Whether ignorance causes involuntariness

q. 8, a. 2 Whether volition is of the end alone, or only of the means

q. 60, a.1 Whether there is only one moral virtue

q. 61, a.2 Whether there are four cardinal virtues


The end is that toward toward which the movement of an agent tends. The agent may direct itself toward an end, as a man doing what he will, or be directed by another, as an arrow is directed by an archer. It is not the case that any agent can be directed toward just any end, but in each case there is relation between the type of agent and the type of end. Heat follows from a hot agent, cold from a cold agent. Sometimes an action terminates outside of the agent, as in making something; other times it terminates within the agent, as in an action of understanding.

It is not possible to go through an infinite number of middle terms (an infinite medium) to an end.

Each middle step between the beginning of an action and its end is an end relative to that which precedes it, and an active principle in relation to that which follows it.

In things which act by intellect, the end preexists within them as a preconception. In things which act by nature but not by intellect, the likeness of that natural effect somehow exists within them.

Fault is found in things which act for a certain end, and fail to achieve that end.

Every agent tends to some definite effect.

Some actions terminate in the action itself. For example, contemplative actions are not for the sake of some other action. Sometimes one plays for the sake of playing, other times that afterward we may study better.


That every agent acts for a Good

Every agent tends to something definite, and that definite thing must in some way be fitting to it, and what is fitting to an agent is good for it. Therefore every agent acts for a good.

The good is the object of every appetite (Nicomachean Ethics). The appetite of the agent or mover comes to rest in the end, and so the end must be good.

All action is directed toward being, either to preserve it (individual's or species' existence) or to acquire it. Being and good are the same thing, under different aspects.

Chapter xvi That the end of everything is a good

Chapter xvii That all things are directed to one end, which is God

Chapter xviii How God is the End of Things

Chapter xx How Things Imitate the Divine Goodness

Chapter xxv That to know God is the End of Every Intellectual Substance



SCG III, CH. XXV: In higher operations of rational creatures, the operations contains the species of that which is the object of the operation. So the operation of knowing is most perfect when what is known is God. The more perfect the object of such an operation, the more perfect then is the operation. The last end of any intellectual substance is to know God, wherein it is performing the most perfect and highest operation of which it is capable.

Man has a natural need to know the causes of things, and the ultimate cause is God. Therefore he has a natural need to know God as the first cause.

SCG III, CH. XXVI: SCG III, CH. XXXVII: Man's ultimate happiness cannot consist in external possesssions, nor in the goods of the body, nor in pleases the senses. Man's ultimate happiness is in the contemplation of the truth. All other human occupations exist to serve those who contemplate the truth. Also, knowledge of first principles is not the end, but the mere beginning of knowledge. Knowledge of natural things is not the end, but the end of knowledge is wisdom, based on the consideration of divine things.

SCG III, CH. XXXIX: Note: Demonstration means obtaining knowledge using logical proofs.


SCG III. CH. XXXIX: It is in our nature to know God. Now, although it is possible to obtain some knowledge by means of demonstration, i.e. by using the tools of logical proof, and step by step, this is beyond the reach of most men, so there must be some other way.

SCG III, ch. XL: The knowledge of God that is our ultimate happiness is not the knowledge we obtain by Faith, for in Faith we are not seeing for ourselves, but are accepting the word of someone who tells the truth. to be continued


SCG III, ch. xlvii: We cannot see God in this life. God is known in this life only as a cause is known through its effect.

to be continued.

SCG III, ch. xlviii: In this life man's appetites cannot be satisfied. His highest appetite is to know, but the more he knows the more his desire for knowledge is kindled. In this life we cannot know separated substances (angels & God) though in themselves they are most intelligible. Man cannot achieve a perfect operation according to perfect virtue in this life, except perhaps near the end of old age, when there would not be much time to enjoy it. So there the ultimate happiness of man must be beyond this life.

Aristotle held that perfect happiness could not be had by men in this life, but only a share or participation in the happiness enjoyed by separated substances. But man has an immortal soul, and he will be able to enjoy happiness after death. SCG III, ch. LI: Natural desires are not in vain, and we have a desire for happiness that cannot be satisfied in this life, therefore happiness must be possible, even though it be in the next life. God cannot be seen through any mental images (species or phantasms), which is our present mode of knowledge. A vision of God must be immediate.

SCG III, ch. LII: It is not within man's nature to be able to see God, but the vision of God requires a special action on God's part that over-rides the limits of man's nature.

SCI III, ch. LIII: The ability to see God is beyond man's nature. In order to be seen by man, God must give to his intellect extraordinary powers.

SCIII, ch. LXI: Time consists in a succession of moments, but eternity is one. God is eternal, and to see God directly is to be in eternity. Therefore to see God is have eternal life.

March 3rd 1993


Man's nature is the source of the natural law and thus is the source of human rights. The natural law is known in the universal experience of each human being. It's starting point is the common sense criteria of conduct.

As an explicit theory, however, natural law first appears among the Greeks. The Greeks discovered "nature", which they called "physis" (hence "physics" - the study of natural things). The nature of the thing is the essence of the thing - i.e. what the thing is, understood as the source of the thing's activity. Natures are rational, they can be understood by man's reason and somehow they have their beginning in a reasonable being. Man likewise has a nature, and our understanding of nature is the source of ethics.

The Jewish people had a highly developed sense of ethics, with a set of laws that they accepted from God. They held that laws express the will of God, but they did not have the driving conviction of the Greek that the nature of things can be understood, and that nature itself can be the source of ethics.

As it is, nature is a source of both human rights and human obligations. In common speech, people speak of nature as something that serves as an excuse for losing control of one's actions, but that is a very shallow understanding of nature.

MAN IS A RATIONAL ANIMAL: Because man is rational, i.e. has the ability to know intellectually and has a conscience, he can be the subject of rights. You can owe things in justice to other human beings, but not to dogs, dolphins, insects or trees.

MAN IS A SOCIAL ANIMAL: man does not live alone. Aristotle said that a person who can do without others is either a beast or divine. In fact, without human companionship and society, a child will lose the ability to learn speech, and may be unable to rise above the level of an animal. The primary social unit is the family.

MAN IS A POLITICAL ANIMAL: Not only does man need other people, he needs the organized society of the state. The Greeks were the first to think seriously upon the nature of the state, which they called the "POLIS" (hence the word "political"). The state allows men to specialize in various activities, and provides a common defense.

MAN IS A RELIGIOUS ANIMAL: Aristotle said "to propose the merely human to man is to betray him". In his idea of ultimate happiness, which is the contemplation of noble and sublime things, he proposes that this itself is a divine gift, whereas Thomas Aquinas clearly says that man's ultimate happiness is in God.


Does breaking a civil law or any other positive law make one an evil-doer? Some would say that in every case, breaking the positive law is evil, that we have an absolute duty toward the state or law-giver. We reject that, however, and take the position of Thomas Aquinas: a law which commands what is contrary to the natural law is no law at all, but a perversion of law. That is an extreme case, however. What about all the other laws, and by-laws, building codes and so forth. One position, that was developed by the Jesuits, was that while many laws bind in conscience, other laws are what they call "merely penal laws". A merely penal law is one that carries a penalty, but does not imply a serious obligation. For example, if you park your car on the Main Street to go into a store for thirty seconds you perhaps do not put the money into the meter. If the meter-man comes by, then instead of saving ten cents you will have to pay ten dollars. If he doesn't come by then you have saved money. The fine is simply an economic measure and you will not appear on "America's Most Wanted." Don't argue with an officer, however, about the merely penal law, because he would answer that he is merely the penalizer, and admister a mere penalty.

The whole issue relates more to the rules of various religious orders. The Franciscans made rules that bind Franciscans under pain of sin, whereas the Dominicans wrote into their rule that a transgression of the rule will be met with a penalty, but does not carry with it any extra sin.

The last position to consider is called antinomialism - a radical rejection of all positive law. In the middle ages this was the position of the Cathari and the Waldensians. Many of them rejected all ecclesiastical and civil authority, and the restraints of the natural law as well, since some of them believed that the material world was the creation of an evil god, so that nothing man did in the material world mattered. To some of them, suicide was the greatest sacrament, as it liberated the spirit from the bonds of matter, and murder was also good if it effected such a liberation. At times it was as if massive cults of murder and suicide had taken over large areas of Europe. The French Revolution shared the same rejection of authority, and the same delight in death. Communist ideology sees the very idea of law as something bourgeois, and some countries actually halted the study of law for that reason. Sometimes, people based their rejection of positive law on the religious belief, on such biblical phrases as "the law has not been laid down for the just", or they held that if an authority did something immoral, he ceased to possess the power to rule others. Others hald that power is merely the sum of those who vote and of their material power, or that anyone may refuse obedience to authority. All these positions we reject. Man needs the state in order to live, and it is a serious wrong to undermine lawful authority.

The traditional view of authority sees power as something more than mere numbers of voters. We must obey laws which are just. A law is just if:

1/the law has a just end, i.e. it is ordered to the common good.

2/ it has been given justly, i.e. by a competent authority.

3/ it has a just form, applied proportionately to all, distributing obligations with due proportion.

EPIKEIA - a competent authority can decide whether a particular law is or is not applicable in a certain case.


The basis of all rights is the primary principle of the natural law "Do Good and Avoid Evil". This is the basis for all morality. It is through this that man is protected from the encroachment of the state; it is this whereby the state is restrained from forcing man to do evil.

For every right, there exists obligation. One obligation is to seek the good for which the right exists. Another obligation is to protect the rights of others, or at least not to act against those rights.

There have been many attempts to put into writing the actual content of universal human rights. The American Declaration of Independence, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the document "Pacem in Terris" by Pope John XXIII.

Here are some paraphrased excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

1/ All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Being endowed with reason and conscience they should relate to one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

2/ The rights in the Declaration are for all, without regard to rase, gender, language, etc..

3/ Every man has the right to life, liberty and to personal security.

4/ Slavery is forbidden.

5/ Torture is forbidden, as are punishments which are cruel, inhumane, or humiliating.

7/ All are equal before the law.

12/ It is forbidden to arbitrarily encroach upon private or family matter, into another's dwelling or correspondence. One's good name and honour must be respected.

14/ Every individual, being persecuted, has the right to seek asylum in another country. This right does not apply to those justly convicted of an offence outlawed by universal law or these principles.

16/ 1. From the age of maturity, a man and a woman, without any limitation with regard to race, nationality or religion, have the right to contract marriage and to establish a family.

3. The family is the natural and fundamental element of society and has the right to protection on the part of society and the state.

17/ 1. Every human person, both as an individual and as a member of a group, has the right to possess private property.

2. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of his own property.

18/ Every human person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,the freedom to change religions or convictions, and the freedom to demonstrate his beliefs publicly.

19/ Every individual has the right to freedom of opinion and speech, to seek, accept and distribute information using the media of mass communications and over international borders.

20/ One has the freedom to associate freely, the right not to be compelled to join organizations,

21/ Each one has the right to carry out public functions in his coutnry, to a share in the government of his country.

22/ Each human person, as a member of society, has the right to social protections: he may demand - in keeping with national achievements and international co-operation, depending on the organization and resources of each state - a participation in the economic, social and cultural rights, such as are necessary to preserve his dignity and the due development of his personality.

23/ Every human individual has the right to work, to freely choose his work in just and satisfactory conditions and the right to protection in the case of unemployment.

24/ Every human has the right to rest, i.e. to a rational limition of working hours, and the right to periodic paid vacations.

25/ 1/ Every person has the right to such a level of life which wil secure for him and his family health and well-being; the right to sustenance, clothing, dwelling, medical care and necessary social benefits; the right to insurance benefits in the case of unemployment, sickness mutilation, widowhood, old age, and also to other cases in which one loses the means to support one's self.

2/ Motherhood and childhood have the right to assistance and to special protection. All children, whether born in wedlock or out thereof, enjoy the same social protection.

26/ 1. Every human person has the right to education. It should be cost-free, at least at the elementary level, and elementary education should be compulsory. Technical and trade schools should be generally accessible. There should be free access to higher studies, with full equality for all, depending only on academic achievements.

3. Parents possess the primary right to select the field in which their children will be educated.

29/ The individual has obligations with respect to society: only in society is the free and full development of his personhood possible.

2. In his use of rights and freedoms he is subject only to such limitations as would defined by law to ensure the appropriate demands of morlatiy, of public order and of general welfare in a democratic society.

Following are some points from Pope John XXIII's encyclical letter "Pacem in Terris"

Every human society, if it is to be well organized and develop successfuly, must rest on the principle that every man is a person, i.e. a being endowed with reason and free will, and so laws and obligations result from his nature. These rights and obligations are universal and inviolable.

Man has a right to life, to integrity of body, to possess the means necessary to assure himself of a proper level of life (food, clothing, dwelling, rest, health care and that the public authorities act in the interest of individuals. Thus, man has the right to social protection in the case of sickeness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment or undeserved deprivation of the means of life.

Man has the right to due respect, the good opinion of others, to freedom in seeking the truth, and - in keeping with the moral order and the common good - the right to pronounce and spread his views and the right to free artistic creativity. He also has the right to receive information on the events of political life.

Man has a natural right to profit from the advance of knowledge, i.e. to recieve a general, technical or professional education, according to the level of knowledge in his land. Effort should be made that people who have suitable mental gifts may attain to higher levels of education, so that in so far as it is possible, offices and positions in society may be held by those who have the necessary abilities and preparations.

Man has the right to worship God in accordance with the demands of his own right conscience.

Man has the right to choose a state in life best suited to him: whether to found a family, or to choose the priesthood or religious life.

The family, based on the marriage bond freely contracted, one and indissoluble, should be regarded as the first and natural bond of human society. For this reason it should be surrounded with the greatest care - both in economic and social matters, and in the area of views and customs - all that the family might be strengthened and assisted in carrying out its proper functions.

Parents have the primary right to hold and bring up their children.

Man has the right to appropriate work, and the right to take it up freely.

Man has the right to healthy working conditions. Women should be guaranteed work in conditions in keeping with the demands of mothers.

The worker should recieve a just wage, one that, in so far as it is economically possible, assures him and his family a level of life in keeping with human dignity.

Man has the right to private property - of goods and the means to produce them. This right helps to defend the dignity of the human person and to freely carry out his personal obligations in every area of life.

The right to private property carries with it social obligations.

Man has the right to organize into groups, the right to move about his country, to change dwelling places, and the right to move to other countries if they permit him to reside within their borders.

Man has the right to an active participation in political life and to make his own contribution to the common good of citizens.

The human person also possesses the right to an effective defense of his rights, equal for all and in keeping with the true principles of justice.

To every right there are corresponding obligations. Some examples:

1/ right to life: obligation to preserve one's life,

2/ the right to a fitting level of life for man: the obligation to live honestly.

3/the right to freedom in the search for truth, the obligation to gain a deeper knowledge and to extend this search.

Mar 5, 1993

The midterm will be in two parts on March 10. The course part will be during regular classroom time at the normal room. The departmental part will be in the evening, from 7 pm to 9 pm. 206b will take the evening exam in room 210, and 206d will take the evening exam in room 211 in St. Vincent's hall (this building).

What is a right? A right is the moral power over what is one's own, or, MORAL POWER TO DO, HOLD, OR EXACT SOMETHING.

Components of a Right


The subject of a right can only be a person. We have the right to those means that will carry us to our last end. We achieve our last end by observing the moral law, and we have the right to what is needed to observe the moral law.


The term of a right must also be a person. Since the term of the right is obligated to observe a right, and obligation only pertain to persons, only a person can be the term of a right.


A person, according to the classical definition from the 4th century philosopher Boethius, is "an individual substance of a rational nature." A person is master of his own acts, and cannot be treated as a mere thing. Thus, slavery is wrong, because it says one man has the rights to the person of another, not merely to the labour of the other person. While a person cannot be the matter of another person's rights, a person's labour can be.


A right is a relation between a person and a thing, but there must be a reason for this relation. it is not enough to say merely that a person has title to a piece of land, one must also ask why. Rights are of two kinds:

1/CONGENITAL: CONGENITAL or NATIVE rights come with birth. One has certain rights merely because of being born as a human being.

2/ACQUIRED: an acquired right is based on some contingent event, some event that could have happened or not have happened.

Examples: inheritance, purchase, coming of age.


Without law, there are no rights. Rights need the protection and sanction of law. Without rights there is no law. Unless rights exist, laws are merely the whim of the lawmaker.

1/MORAL POSITIVISM: this holds that the only rights are those granted by the lawmaker. Such a right is not really a right.

Posivists disagree on the source of rights. THe following are proposed:

1/THE STATE as a source of rights: Some believe that the only rights a citizen has are those granted by the state. But if the state is the source of rights, where does the state get its right of existence?

2/THE CONTRACT as a source of rights: Hobbes and Rousseau hold that the state originated from a social contract, i.e. an agreement among many that they should band together. Now, although some rights can result from contracts (certain acquired rights), innate rights do not come into existence from a contract, nor can a contract end their existence.

3/ THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM as the source of rights. Kant held that rights concern the legal order, that of external action, but not the moral order, the order of the inner motive of duty. But a parent has a right to his child's love, not merely to an external manifestation of that love. This concept would also hold that we have the right to do what is immoral as long as we do ot directly involve others.

4/ CUSTOM as the source of rights: while customs may become laws, the fact that something is customary does not firmly establish it as matter of a right. Customs can also be evil, in which case they are not a valid source of rights.

5/RIGHT AND MIGHT: if the order of law is separated from the ethical order, as in positivism, then right becomes the same thing as might. But right and might are not one. In Plato's REPUBLIC, Thrasymachus defends the idea that right is might, or that justice is the interest of the stronger. In fact, rights are more necessary to the weak than to the strong. Might, or strength, is necessary to defend rights, and so the weak or defenceless need defenders who are strong. If the law is to defend the rights of its subjects, then there must be sufficient force available to defend those rights.


One's rights are limited by one's duties. I may exercise my rights up to the point where my duty to others supercedes my rights. A right ceases to exist when it injures another's rights.

Duty: the moral obligation to do or omit something.

Rights and duties are correlative and complementary. If I have a right, others have a duty to respect my right. If I have a duty, then someone else has the right to that which my duty commands me to do. (God alone has rights without having duties.)


Alienable rights can be renounced. Inalienable rights cannot legitimately given away or taken away, because they are necessayr to man if he is to achieve his end and to achieve his duty.


In theory, there can never be a conflict. There can only be an apparent conflict, and the weaker claim must cede to the stronger claim, but in practice it is often very difficult to decide between two claim as to which is the stronger. This is one reason why the unwritten natural law is insufficent, but positive law is also necessary.

Some general guidelines can be drawn up:


1/THE NOBLER PERSON: duty to God before duty to man, duty to parents before duty to their children.

2/THE CLOSER RELATIONSHIOP: closer relatives before remote ones, friends before strangers


1/ THE MORE COMMON GOOD: world peace before personal comfort, the safety of the public before private gain

2/ THE WIDER SOCIAL ORDER: the country before the familly, the family before the individual.


1/ THE GRAVER MATTER: the soul before the body, life before property.

2/ THE GREATER URGENCY: fighting a fire before reading abook, saving a life before burying the dead


1/ THE HIGHER LAW: natural law before positive law, inalienable rights before alienable rights.

2/ THE CLEARER TITLE: the certain more than the doubtful, paying a debt before giving a gift.

There are cases which excuse a man from a duty. Basically, a person is excused from a duty if some HARDSHIP makes it impossible for him to do his duty. A hardship, if it is to serve as an excuse, has to be out of proportion to the importance of the duty. E.g. a workman is not excused from his work because it makes him sweaty and tired; a soldier is not excused from battle because it is dangerous: these hardships go with the task.

March 8, 1993


First we shall consider rights and obligations with regard to the intellect, man's highest power.

THE RIGHT TO ONE'S OPINION | THE DUTY TO SEEK THE TRUTH: The right to one's opinion is not absolute, and it is not and end in itself. Why? Traditionally, there is a very clear distinction between opinion and knowledge. An opinion contains elements of uncertainty, one does not know for sure, and one is aware that the truth could be other than one thinks. Knowledge, on the other hand, is certain. In knowledge, we have certain grounds for holding something to be true, and either we see that something is true directly, or we can prove it from other facts and by reasoning. Once something is known, it is no longer a matter of opinion. The right to opinion is only a step to the truth, and it exists to allow people to seek the truth.

One might say that Joe has the right to his opinion that the speed limit would be better set at 65 miles per hour, but would you say that nurse Mary has a right to the opinion that HIV- positive blood may safely be given to patients? I would not, and I would consider the expression of such an "opinion" as grounds for her losing her job.

G.K. Chesterton said "the mind is built for coming to conclusions, just as the stomach is built for digesting food". An open mind has its place, but if the claim of having an open mind is an excuse for never coming to the truth (which might be demanding or unpleasant) then an open mind becomes something evil and defective.


Freedom is particularily important in matters of religion, where people have many widely divergent views. Since there are so many contradictory views, not all of them can be true. There must be some religions which are false. Now, falsehood is something evil, the privation or negation of truth, yet we consider it better that people be able to seek the truth for themselves. Every religion claims to bear the true message for God, so when examining religions is necessary in each case to see if there is any proof for the claim that a particular religion bears the message of God. If indeed someone discovers that for certain God has spoken and demanded something of man, then that person would be bound in consciece to accept this and obey.

Freedom in matters of religion should not lead to indifference (the idea that choice of religion, or the contents of particular religions do not matter). Respecting another persons beliefs does not mean that in such important matters there can be no discussion. If people have a habit of not discussing religious beliefs in a rational way, then they will develop a habit of not thinking about them in rational way.

Freedom, then, is necessary so that people may heartily search for the truth. Freedom is intended so that such matters can be brought into the public forum and discussed rationally without repercussions on the parties involved, and then in public discussion the most rational and convincing beliefs will gain adherents (St. Thomas More, in his "Utopia" was one of the first Catholics to propose religious freedom on these grounds).

Where, then, does one draw the line on religious freedom? The yardstick by which the state should decide that a religion should be suppressed is the natural law, at least in the primary and secondary principles. For example, it is apparent to all people of adequately developed reason that human sacrifice and infanticide is wrong. Should some religion propose human sacrifice, then the state should step in to make sure that it does not become a reality. There are many such cases in the civil law: Scientologists have been arrested for denying their children the benefits of standard medical treatment, though the parents did not believe in medicine on religious grounds; Mormons have been preented by law from taking more than one life; Moslems cannot assisinate people like Salmon Rushdie with impunity, even though this is commanded by their religious leaders.

In all these examples, however, it is a question of some secondary, or even tertiary, principle of the natural law. They are people who are trying to do what is good, but what they hold to be good, a reasonable person would say is evil. There are cases where a religion would even deny the primary principle of the natural law, that "Good is to be done and evil avoided". This was the case with Albigensianism and the Cathari of the 12th and 13th centuries. Some believed that while the spiritual realm was good, the physical world as created by an evil good. Therefore, for the radical believers of these sects, anything done in the body was evil in any case, so in the physical world evil was to be done. They radically rejected morality, would hide their true beliefs behind lies, raised suicide to a sacrament (for it would release the soul from the evil of the physical world), and they rejected all authority, both secular and ecclesiastical. It was as if a cult of mad killers had taken over whole counties. It was in the context that the Inquisition was started. If a group radically denies all that is good, then the state should not accord it the status of a religion.


A teacher is free to teach the doctrines and opinions he holds, without undue censorship. It is expected at the university level. It is necessary since advances in science and culture are only possible where investigators are free to pursue truth wherever it leads. The teacher is supposed to have some expertise in his field, and so it is illogical to have those who know less about the subject matter dictate it to him. There are some reasonable limits on academic freedom:

With respect to students: a teacher, even at the university level, is treated as an authority by the students, sometimes uncritically. He should thereefore carefully consider what he says, and not use students as a sounding board for ideas which are merely experimental and might have adverse consequences. If he feels he must teach new and subversive doctrines, then he should be debating them among his peers. Responsible teaching requires that students not be used as guinea-pigs for new ideas.

When the students or their parents choose a certain school, they might have some reasonable expectations as to the academic content expected therein, and the teacher cannot ignore these. Nor can the teacher ignore contractual agreements with the school. If by contract he must present a certain view, then he has the choice of seeking employment elsewhere.

Should education be used as a tool to reshape society? Human society is never perfect, and is always in need of improvement. No matter how worthy the changes, however, an educator has no right to take advantage of the position of students and the wishes of parents and turn teaching into a mere tool for some social agenda. This is partly because a classroom is not a democracy, and it is in the political forum that people should be free to choose the direction their society will take. A teacher should not try to surreptiously introduce social change through the classroom or lecture-hall. This is one of the injustices of what is called "political correctness": self-appointed social engineers hi-jack the education process for their own purposes and silence all who oppose them.

This is not to say that teachers must shy away from what is political. They should not avoid speaking the truth that belongs to their field merely because one could draw conclusions with political consequences.


Every person has the right to their good name, to the good opinion of others. Therefore, one has an obligation not to destroy the good reputation of other people. First, it is very wrong to tell what is untrue to the detriment of others. Second, it is wrong to reveal things about others that would hurt their reputation, unless one is compelled to do so for some grave reason. Likewise, it would be wrong to easily lend one's ears to the person who spreads gossip.


We must reveal the truth when the other party has a right to know the truth. For example, a witness under oath must speak the truth on matters under the court's jurisdiction; both parties in a contract have the right to know all the obligations of the contract.

Secrets are either 1/ natural or 2/ of promise.

1/Natural secrets deal with matters which are private by nature. E.g. a person's private life, the closed circle of the family, the status of business firms, diplomatic and military matters.

2/ Secrets of Promise: one promises not to divulge a certain piece of information, and this is a Secret of Promise. A secret of trust is similar: a person entrusts a secret to another, with the express or implicit understanding that it is told in confidentiality.

The obligation to keep a secret is disappears if the matter of the secret becomes widely-known, or if the other party consents to lifting the secrecy. Also, the obligation to keep an entrusted secret is in proportion to the seriousness of the matter.

There are some secrets one should not reveal even under threat of death. Military secrets are of this type. Also, the priest cannot reveal what he learns in the confessional even under threat of death.


The traditional doctrine concerning truth and lies posits three conditions for a lie:

1/ the falsity of the statement

2/ the will to tell the falsity

3/ the intention to deceive.

St. Thomas calls a lie "speech contrary to one's mind." Those who strictly follow St. Thomas would say that such speech is always wrong. There are some cases, however, where one may not reveal the truth to a second party. There, the Thomists would say that one could use a MENTAL RESERVATION. A mental reservation could be speaking only part of the truth, answering a question with a question, using ambiguous language, or any other thing which would avoid speaking the truth and also avoid speaking falsehood.

Another definition of a lie is "the negation of a truth which is due to someone". According to this theory, if someone does not have the right to a certain piece of information, then it is legitimate even to say what is untrue in order to prevent them from discovering the truth.

To take an example: imagine a man in Holland in World War II who was hiding Jews in his attic. The German National Socialist soldiers come to his door and ask if he is hiding anybody. He scowls and says "I am a respectable citizen. Do you seriously think I would do something like that?" He is misleading them by use of a mental reservation.

Now, if the same man were to simply answer: "No Jews are in this house", he would be using the "right to truth" theory. He judges that the National Socialists have no right to the truth, since they would use it to help them in committing murder.

The "right to truth theory" has become more widely accepted and may be safely followed. There are many cases where an evasive answer or a refusal to answer would give the interrogator all the information they need.


1/FORMAL CO-OPERATION - one not only helps another to do evil but joins in his evil intention. For example, the man who drives the get-away car at a robber, even though he does not actually rob anyone.

2/MATERIAL CO-OPERATION - without approving another's wrong- doing, one helps him perform his evil act. For example, the taxi-driver under duress helps robbers escape. Material co- operation is not in itself wrong, but may become wrong from the circumstances. If one gives material co-operation, there must be some due proportion. This proportion is measured as follows:

1/ the amount of evil that others will be enabled to do by my cooperation;

2/ the amount of evil that will happen to me if I refuse to cooperate

3/ the closeness with which my cooperative act is connected with the evil act of the principle agent.

2.1.1. PROXIMATE MATERIAL COOPERATION: material co-operation that is very close to the actual evil deed.

2.1.1. REMOTE MATERIAL COOPERATION: material co-operation which far from the actual deed.

2.2. INDISPENSABLE MATERIAL COOPERATION: cooperation in which no one else could have substituted in the evil act. This increases responsibility, since one could have prevented the evil deed.

One may not keep a job wth a company that continually is engaged in an immoral business. If it is only an occasional bad practice, the employee is not at fault if their material co- operation is kept remote. If a more proximate material cooperation is called for, they must have a proportionately good reason for holding on to the job.



Man's right to life

To reach his final end, eternal happiness, man must live. Thus the natural law gives him the right to life. We will look at 1/suicide, 2/ murder, 3/ euthanasia, 4/ feticide and abortion, 5/ self-defence.

Suicide - the direct killing of one's self on one's own authority.

"direct killing" - excludes situations where one's own death is only indirectly involuntary.

"on one's own authority" - excludes the case where a lawful authority commands that someone take their own life, as Socrates was sentenced to drink the poison hemlock. This case is still problematic, however.

Suicide 1/Positive - by an act

2/Negative - by omission of an act

Why is suicide wrong? God alone has DIRECT DOMINION over the human person. He alone has the right to sever body from soul. Man has only INDIRECT DOMINION over himself. Indirect dominion is equivalent to stewardship, whereby one is entrusted with something.

Murder - the direct and unjust killing of another person.

"another person" as distinct from one's own person as in suicide.

"direct killing" in which the death of the other person is intended as the end of the act or as a means.

"unjust" i.e. without legitimate authority; executioners and sodiers in war are acting on the authority of the state. Also, one may justly kill in self-defense.

Euthanasia - also called "mercy killing". Euthanasia is either murder, when the subject does not consent, or a combined murder and suicide.

Feticide and Abortion

Infanticide - killing an infant which is already born is plainly murder.

Feticide - the direct killing of the child within the womb, this is also murder.

Abortion - the expulsion of a non-viable fetus, i.e. a fetus that is not yet able to survive outside of the womb. Abortion is direct killing, since it is putting the child in an environment where it cannot possibly survive, just as it would be direct killing to put an adult out in a snow storm without clothes.

Hastened Birth - premature delivery of a viable fetus. (Formerly viability was set at 7 months, but with the improvement of medical technology it is moving back, in some cases to the fifth month of pregnancy).

Indirect Abortion - the death of the child is not intended, but merely permitted. Here the principle of double effect must be applied. For example, the removal of a cancer tumour may require a hysterectomy, but if the uterus is removed the child will die.

When does the fetus become a human being?

From the moment of conception there is a biologically discrete individual being. He or she has the same unique genetic code from that first moment the he or she will have until death. After conception, nothing is added except time and nutrition. Though dependent on the mother, the offspring is a different being. The offspring of a human is a human, just as the offspring of a dog is a dog.

How can we be sure of the humanity and personhood of the fetus?

Biologically the fetus is an individual from conception. He or she has the potential for the use of reason, since he or she is human offspring ("fetus" merely means "offspring" - it does not imply something pre-human). The actual use of reason is not necessary for there to be a person, just as someone who is sleeping does not cease to be a person. Let the child develop and in the normal course of things he or she will come into the use of reason. Also, although reason requires an advanced nervous system if it is to be exercised, it is not merely a material function. The fact that we "know that we know" is something that could not be reduced to matter.

Some would try to say that the fetus becomes a person only at some later stage after conception. But conception is a substantial change, in which a thing is either a substance or not, with no middle ground. A substantial change must be instantaneous. While conception is a substantial change, there is no grounds for supposing that any other particular moment in the life of the unborn is marked by a substantial change.

What about people who do not accept these philosophical arguments?

If someone rejects the above arguments, they still cannot prove that at any stage the fetus is not a human being, or a human person. There is no doubt that one cannot take an innocent human life. If, therefore, one cannot be sure that the fetus is not a human, then one must take the safer course and not risk killing what might be a human being.

Doesn't this put an undue burden on the woman?

It is true that pregnancy puts a greater burden by nature on the woman than on the man. Not only must she bear the child through pregnancy, but she is the one who must keep the child if the man is missing. Pregnancy, however, does not merely happen, but is always the result of sexual coitus. Society and the law must see to it that men have their share of responsibility.

The institution of marriage must be preserved by good laws. Laws which make divorce too easy destroy the institution of marriage. Also, tax laws which make it difficult for a mother to be at home with her children place an undue burden on women, who often are forced to work (as if the mere fact of being in the market-place is more important than the welfare of children). Laws and customs which encourage extra-marital sexual activity also are principally harmful to women.

The wide-spread acceptance of contraceptive devices and pills has led to the situation where a woman is seen merely as a sexual object for the pleasure of man. The right of a woman to say no to sexual advances is eroded by the "contraceptive mentality".


The right to life implies the right to the means necessary to protect life. Normally, the use of force in protecting life is entrusted to the civil government. However, sometimes the forces of the civil government are not ready at hand and the individual must engage in self-defense.

Aggression: the violation of another's rights.

Assault: aggression against a person, not merely against his property.

Aggression may be 1/ deliberate, 2/ not deliberate, as in the actions of a madman.

Aggression may be 1/material - involuntary assault

2/ formal - intentional aggression.

A public executioner is an aggressor, but he is a JUST AGGRESSOR.

Conditons for self-defence

1/ the motive must be self-defense alone;

2/ force may be used only at the time of the attact;

3/ force may be used only when there is no other way of repelling the aggression;

4/ No more injury may be inflicted than is necessary to avert actual danger;

There are two ways of explaining killing in self-defense:

1/double effect: you intend to ward off an attacker, not directly to kill him. Legitimate self-defense is always indirect killing.

2/collision of rights: the unjust assailant forfeits his right to life by the assault upon my rights.

Man has a right to self-defense, but does not necessarily have the duty to defend himself.

One may come to the assistance of another who is being unjustly attacked. Officers of the law not only may but must by duty come to the assistance of someone who is being attacked. Husbands and fathers, etc. have a duty to protect and defend those who are under their care. The casual bystander has a general duty in charity to assist one who is in distress, but he has no strict onligation to risk his own life.

The Unintentional Agressor: the unintentional aggressor, for example a madman or a drowning swimmer in a panic, is still an aggressor and one has the right to defend oneself against him.

Goods equivalent to life: Man has a right not only to life, but also to a human life. Some goods are so important to living a human life that they can be defended to the same extent as one would defend life itself.

1/Limbs and faculties |

2/Liberty | goods of a person nature

3/Chastity |

4/Material Goods of Great Value - the good of society requires that people be secure in th possession of their property.

Honor or reputation, though important, cannot effectively be defended by the use of force.








"I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgement, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture.

"To impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician's oath, but to nobody else."

"I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgement, but never with a view to injury and wrong doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly, I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art."

"I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man and woman, bond or free."

"And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.

"Now, if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain forever reputation among all men for my life and for my art;

but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.

excerpts from "A New Ethic for Medicine and Society" printed in "California Medicine - Official Journal of the California Medical Association" Vol. 113, Number 3

"The traditional western ethics has always placed great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its stage or condition. This ethic has had the blessing of the Judeo-Christian heritage and has been the basis for most of our laws and much of our social policy. The reverence for each and every human life has been a keystone of Western medicine and is the ethic which has caused physicians to try to preserve, protect, repair, prolong and enhance every human life which comes under their surveillance...."

"... hard choices will have to be made with respect to what is to be preserved and strengthened and what is not, and that this will of necessity violate and ultimately destroy the traditional Western ethic will all that his portends. It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives ..."

"The process of eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. ...Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins aat conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra- uterine until death."

"...Medicine's role with respect to changing attitudes toward abortion may well be a prototype of what is to occur. Another precedent may be found in the part physicians have played in evaluating who is and who is not to be given costly renal dialysis. Certainly this has required placing relative values on human lives and the impact of the physician to this decision process has been considerable. One may anticipate further development of these roles as the problems of birth control and birth selection are extended inevitably to death selection and death control whether by the individual or by society ..."


What we think about the human intellect and its power to know reality determines to an enormous degree what we think about man's nature, his dignity and human progress. Human dignity, natural human rights, and democratic society cannot be preserved without a realistic philosophy. By realistic philosophy, I mean a philosophy which will vindicate man's ability to have intellectual knowledge of the world.

The empirical sciences are simply the sciences in the usual sense to the word "science" as it is used today. "Empirical" means "based on sense experience", and so the empirical sciences are based on the experience of the senses. Empirical Science reveals the laws which operate in the physical material universe. To assume that the empirical sciences alone inform us of reality is to go beyond empirical scientific evidence and step into the realm of philosophy. Empiricist philosophy claims that all knowledge is only sense perception, and therefore, there is no essential difference between man and animal. The validity of empirical science rests on the assumption that empirical science is a path to human knowledge. Empirical science however, can prove this assumption but must accept it. If a scientist claims that empirical scienceis the only kind of knowledge, he is undermining his own position.

Empiricist philosophy is a form of nominalism. Nominalism is the philosophy, which started in the middle ages after the time of Thomas Aquinas, that states that all that man knows are individual things. It holds that man does not grasp the essences of things. It denies the validity of theoretical knowledge emphasizing knowledge. Empiricist philosophy despairs of every attaining certainty.

The assumption that the empirical sciences alone inform us of reality is to go beyond the empirical science evidence and to step into the realm of reality.

The ethics that follows from empiricism is social utilitarianism - the ethics of totalitarianism - what is good for the whole is what is important, and the individual is merely a part, only a member of the species or a member of society without individual value.

Empiricist philosophy is presently on the rise, but realistic philosophy is on the decline - the loss of confidence in the intellect's capacity to know the truth of things spells the end of civilization.

The view that man does not differ in any essential way from other animals is widespread now through the educational process. This view is put forth by some leading intellectuals in various fields. J. Glanville Williams, an authority in the field of law, would like to remove infanticide, abortion and suicide from the criminal law. He supports eugenics as well. He writes:

"There is a striking contrast between human feckleness in our own reproduction and the careful scientific improvement of other forms of life under man's control. No rose-gardener, pigeon- fancier or cattle-breeder would behave as men do in their own breeding habits. `Imagine', says Bertrand Russell, `the feelings of a farmer who was told that he must give all his bull calves an equal opportunity.'" ("The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law, 1974, pg. 81-82)

Procreation, however, is more that mere biology, and man is more than merely an animal. Man is a person - a UNIQUE CENTER OF CONSCIOUS, AUTONOMOUS BEING.

The change in attidue toward human life is also reflected in medicine (see "A New Ethic for Medicine and Society" above).

B.F. Skinner in "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" attacks the idea of the "autonomous man", i.e. the idea of man as a being who determines his own behaviour by his own free will. Everything in man is determined, according to Skinner, and man is nothing more than an "ensemble of behaviours".

Friday, March 26

Freud on Contraception

In response to the question, "can someone hold without contradiction that homosexual activity is immoral and contraceptives are moral?": both consist in sexual activity in which the procreative end of sex is deliberately frustrated. We may quote Sigmund Freud in this connection:

" is a characteristic common to all the perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. THis is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse - if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently. ....The gulf and turning point in the development of the sexual life lies at the point of its subordination to the purposes of reproduction. Everything that occurs before this conversion takes place, and everything which refuses to conform to it and serves the pursuit of gratification alone, is called by the unhonoured title of perversion and as such is despised. becomes more and more clear that what is essential to the perversions lies, not in the overstepping of the sexual aim, not in the replacement ofthe genitalia, not always even in the variations inthe object, but solely in the exclusiveness with which these deviations are maintained, so that the sexual act which serves the reproductive process is rejected altogether."

(Great Books of the Western World, Vol. 54, Freud. "A General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis," Twentieth Lecture; The Sexual Life of Man, pp. 575-578.


What can be done by the lower agent ought not to be done by the higher.


1/ A good driver has a set of good habits, so that his intellect (the higher agent) need not occupy itself with every detail of driving, since these are taken care of by reflex habits (lower agents).

2/ The boss in a company delegates tasks to employees, so he can do his own management tasks better.

3/ The federal government should respect the authority of individual states; the state government should respect the authority of counties; all government should respect the proper authority of the parents in families, and the proper self- determination of individuals. Governments should allow professional bodies to be self-governing within reasonable limits.

4/ Government should allow charitable organizations freedom in helping the poor. Organizations, for example within the Church, can do a better job taking care of the needy than can the government.

5/ God has the right and power to make anything happen as he wishes, but he leaves the running of society to man. So, although only God has the right to deprive men of what is theirs by nature, the state can act in the place of God, and if justice requires it, the state may deprive men of their liberty and even of their lives.

6/ God gives man the right to life, and allows man to defend his life.


It is morally permissible to sacrifice a part for the good of the whole, when the welfare of the whole body cannot be secured by other means."

(McFadden, "Medical Ethics", pg. 282)

Private Individuals have no other power over the member s of their bodies than that which pertains to their natural ends; and they are not free to destroy or mutilate their members, or in any other way render themselves unfit for their natural functions except when no other provision can be made for the good of the whole body.

(McFadden, ibid)

Monday March 29


Mutilation is a cutting off or equivalent action by which an organic function or the definite use of members is suppressed or directly diminished. (Vermeesch, "Moral Theology).

Removing a diseased organ is not mutilation, because the action does not lessen the integrity of the body. Plastic surger, usually performed to correct some defect, increases the integrity of the body, and so usually is not mutilation.

Organ transplants are sometimes moral, sometimes not. Let us take the case of kidney transplants. There are two kidneys which have identical functions, and a human body can function well with only one. The removal of one kidney, therefore, does not directly lessen the integrity of the body. Indirectly, however, it does affect the integrity of the body, since the donor may in the future become ill, and the functioning of the remaining kidney may become impaired. The principle of double effect must be applied therefore, and the benefit to the patient must be weighed against the possible harm to the donor. For example, it would be wrong to take a kidney from a young healthy donor and place it in someone who for other reasons is terminally ill. Another case to consider is that of cornea transplants. It would be wrong to transplant the cornea from a properly functioning eye. It may be transplanted from the eye of a living donor if the eye for some other reason is not functioning, and from a recently deceased donor, provided the necessary permissions are obtained.

Therapeutic sterilization is sterilization done to safeguard the health or life of an individual. The removal of an organ because it is attacked by cancer is not done with the direct intention of sterilizing the patient, but in order to preserve the integrity of the patient's body, and so it is morally permissible. The principle of double effect is applied:

1/ the intention is to preserve the integrity of the patient's body;

2/ the bad effect, i.e. sterilization, is not the cause of the good effect, but both are equally the result of the same operation;

3/ the pathological condition is serious enough to warrant the sterilization;

4/ the sterilization is not directly intended.

Eugenic sterilization is sterilization performed on defective persons in the interests of improving society. The arguments for eugenic sterilization are as follows. Some mentally defective people are incapable of acting responsibly sexually. It costs less to sterilize them and let them do as they please than to keep them under constant care. Against this, one would say the following: If there are men who would take advantage of mentally defective women, then such women should be protected against that situation just as one would protect a child. Also, the fact that it costs society money to take care of such people is acceptable: public money is spent on many things which are superfluous and luxuries - such as stadiums, galleries etc.. Money can therefore be spent on the needs of living people who cannot help themselves. Also, if not under protective care, life is very cruel to the mentally defective person. If the purpose of sterilization is to prevent them from unwanted consequences of irresponsible sexual behaviour, that same behaviour still exposes them to increased risk of disease, including AIDS. In general, eugenic sterilization is mutilation, since it impairs the natural functioning of the body, and as such it is wrong.

Lastly, sterilization is proposed as a punishment for those who commit sex crimes. Punitive Sterilization is no punishment at all. First of all, many criminals would like to get sterilized so there is no value in it as Retribution. Nor is it likely to make them better, but rather it may make the commission of sexual crimes even easier. Nor again does it serve to make an example out of the criminal, since sex criminals are not interested in causing conception. Lastly, it does nothing to make restoration to the loss of the victim.


Contraception is the term that describes a temporary sterilization, usually due to a drug but also due to the use of any number of devices (Intra-Uterine Devices, Condoms, Diaphragms etc.). If the direct purpose is the prevention of conception, then it is wrong for the same reasons that mutilation is wrong. The principle of totality applies here. If a person is made temporarily sterile, on the other hand, as a side-effect of some medically necessary treatment, no wrong has been done. This may be the case when a patient is undergoing radiation therapy.


Many of the most pressing moral dilemnas in medicine concern the problem of suffering. It is the problem behind the issue of abortion, since bearing a child and raising him is no doubt a cause of suffering. Also, euthanasia, i.e. so-called mercy killing, is often proposed when a patient has extreme suffering.

If it is the question of an animal, a dog or a horse, we do not hestitate to put the animal out of its misery if it is in extreme pain. Why then do we not allow the same for human beings? Is it because we are more merciful to other animals than to members of our own kind? People born with incurable defects that greatly impair their mental and physical abilities live lives full of suffering - why not "grant" them release? Would this put an end not only to their own suffering, but also the sufferings of their families, who must offer great sacrifices to support them? In reply:

1/ What seems incurable at present in the future may be curable.

2/ If voluntary euthanasia were legalized, there would be pressure to extend it to involuntary euthanasia of people who are deemed to be a burden to society.

3/ If doctors administered euthanasia, that would mean that people could no longer place confidence in their doctors. It would have a bad effect on medicine, since there the need to find cures for incurable diseases would seem to diminish.

Most of all, while mercy killing is appropriate in the case of animals, man by his rationality differs from other animals. Since an animal does not have an immortal soul, suffering is the greatest evil that can befall it. But man has an immortal soul, and in the perspective of his continued existence after physical death, suffering is a mere episode. Also, suffering will occur in the life of every human being that is born. Even if one were lucky enough never to have physical suffering, everyone shall sooner or later reflect upon the fact that he is mortal, and this thought alone causes mental suffering. If suffering were a reason for ending life, then every human being could end his life. The acceptance of suffering requires that one believe that the suffering has some value or meaning. Viktor Frankl in "Man's Search for Meaning" points out that those who perceive a meaning in their life are capable of surviving great sufferings, for example, those motivated by the love of another person, whereas a person who thinks that his life is without purpose or meaning will come undone under even minor suffering. Viktor Frankl knew whereof he spoke: as an inmate in a concentration camp he saw how physically strong men would break down, whereas weak and sickly men who had vigorous spiritual and intellectual lives endured.


This is a continuation of the previous lecture on the animalization of man, where we traced development of a new ethic that sees man in exclusively biological terms to the empirical sciences.

Freedom and love depend on knowledge. Love depends on knowing the beloved, and freedom requires knowledge of the choices. Aquinas: the superior autonomy that man enjoys over sub-rational beings consists in his ability to see the proportion between the means and the end. Even Freud was, in his own way, a rationalist: the sick patient would be at the control of irrational forces, but when he understood them, he would no longer be controlled by them.

The Empiricist Theory of Knowledge

Empiricist philosophy denies that knowledge differs essentially from sense perception. Now, if man is have rights not granted to animals, then he must have a different nature. To have a different nature, he must be set apart from animals by some essential difference. That difference would be the ability to know. But if sense knowledge is the only form of knowledge for both animals and man, then the difference between animals and man is one of degree, not a difference of kind.

Empiricism is a sort of nominalism. Nominalism is a philosophy that teaches that all we know are individuals. We do not grasp essences of things. An essence is a mere name that hides the diversity of individuals under the umbrella of a species. But this is false: men and women of all times and culture know what is a human and what is not, what is a horse and what is not, the difference between existence and non-existence between right and wrong.

Empiricism causes the "animalization of man". If the difference between man and animals is one merely of having a more sophisticated neural network, then computers are or are soon to be superior to man, for they can perform many operations more efficiently than man.

We use the metaphors of vision to describe knowledge, as when we say "I see". Knowledge is not only discurive thinking, which is progressing from what is known to new knowledge by means of reason, but there is also intuition, when the mind comes to rest in the possession of truth, which we express when we say "I see".

Empiricism, however, denies the possibility of this moment. Knowledge is not the possession of truth, but know-how: the carpenter does not care about what wood is, or the essence of a tree, but merely about how to use wood. The empiricists, such as John Dewey, belittle knowledge for its own sake.

The Thomistic Theory of Knowledge

Thomas Aquinas holds that knowledge starts from the senses. We draw certain common-sense conclusions from the data of the senses which result in the relation of truth: an adequation of mind and reality. Truth is a correspondence between mind and reality. We move from the data of the senses to the principles underlying the world: for example:

1/ the principle of identity: every being is what it is: being is being; being is not nothing;

2/ principle of non-contradiction: it is impossible for a being to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect; 3/principle of sufficient reason: every bring has a reason for its existence; either in itself, or in something else;

4/ principle of causality; every being that is not it's own sufficient reason is caused by another;

5/ principle of finality: every agent acts toward an end or purpose.

The first act of the intellect is to know being. This has its beginning in sense knowledge but is not mere sense knowledge. The intellect can know the common essence that is found in many diverse instances of one species: e.g. each human being is an unrepeatable individual of different height and weight etc. but we grasp, by abstraction, that which is common to all humans, namely their essence, based not on matter, but on form.

start from here on Wednesday, March 23

Knowledge and the Soul

Thomism holds 1/that the soul is the form of the body; giving it shape and unity of function, but also 2/ the soul is intellectual, and thus immaterial, and it is subsistent- i.e. it can exist on its own.

Form and matter: matter is the principle of potency - it is the fact that things are material that allows them to change. Form is the principle of actuality: when we say what something actually is, we are speaking of a form. The same matter may take on successively different forms, either accidental forms - such as colour or shape, or different substantial forms. An example of matter taking a different substantial form is eating. What was the flesh of a cow becomes mere meat when separated form the body, and then when eaten by me, the matter becomes part of my body. The form of a thing determines its activity.

Now, human intellectual knowledge is able to grasp things in an immaterial manner. This would not be possile if the intellect were merely a material power. The intellect and the soul are one and the same thing: the same soul that causes the organs of the human body to be united in purpose also enables a man to graps the highest truths. One conclusion: the human body is different from that of other animals: the human body is an instrument of the intellect and is suitable for this purpose. For example, the hand of a pianist that moves over the keys manifests an intellectual nature, whereas the paw of a bear does not.

Now, since the operation of the intellect is immaterial, it cannot be destroyed when the body dies. The soul persists in existence. This is not the natural state of the woul, however, since the soul is the form of the body, and so death remains something which is evil. The soul without the body is only "half a man".

Now, the soul is form, the principle of actuality. The body is the matter, which is the principle of potentiality. What this means is that it is possible for human beings to grow, learn, change their minds, and all other changes because of the body. But at death, whatever the person has made themselves through life is actualized. Only the form, which is called the soul, remains. The body, the principle which allows change disappears. Whatever the person is like in moral character, in personality, when they die, that is what they remain.

Additional Points:

If all knowledge is a kind of sense-knowledge, then the more intelligent animal should also have more developed sensation. But man in the areas of vision, hearing, smelling and tasting falls far behind other animals. The sense of touch may be somewhat more sensitive in man, as Thomas Aquinas supposed, but this is not clear. In general man is more capable of solving problems than other animals, but his senses are far weaker. Therefore intelligence cannot be mere sensation.

Soon: the proof for the existence of God.

Wednesday, March 31

I.E. = ID EST = that is

E.G. = EXEMPLI GRATIA = thanks to an example = for example]\

ETC. = ET CETERA = and everything else

IDEM = the same thing = the same book

IBID. = ibidem = in the same place = in the same book as quoted above.

STERCOR TAURI - THE s- - - of a bull

- addendum in response to a question:

The ability to understand and use language is a sign of intellectual knowledge. But animals have the ability to learn a limited human vocabulary. Are they then endowed with intellectual knowledge?

First, let us establish the facts. Some animals, such as the german shepherd used in the show "Littlest Hobo", can learn an extensive vocabulary. In that case, the dog learned an estimated 5000 words, and could take detailed instructions. Also, various attempts have been made to teach primates a sign language that they could use to communicate. There seems to be some success in this.

On the other hand, scientists who have been working on the assumption that other animals already have a language which we can discover have been repeatedly disappointed. Dr. Lilley is noted for his work with dolphins, but despite decades of waiting, the dolphins have not said anything to him. The ability of animals to pass on acquired knowledge to their offspring is very limited but it does exist.

The question implied by all this is two-fold:

1/ since animals can acquire (though they cannot invent) the use of language, is intellectual knowledge to be ascribed to them? ;

2/ granted that the ability to learn language is shared by several advanced mammals, does man have only a quantitatively more advanced knowledge than animals have, are his freedom and intellect mere illusion?

At this point I can draw only on my experience with animals that I have known: The animal can learn the names of several people. Suppose the animal knows the names "Mary", "Jim" and "Herbert". It will go to the correct person if one says "Go to Mary". If, however, the person associated with the name is not immediately present, it will go to some person who shares some exterior feature with the person. The animal can associate a symbol with a vivid mental image, which means that the language it employs is wrapped up with sense knowledge, with no apparent intellectual component. It also associates a word with an action: though "Get the shoe" will result in the fetching by the dog of a shoe if a shoe is present, it will result in some other act of fetching if there is no shoe present.

Animals do not create language, nor do they pass on the use of language to their offspring. They do not have culture, etc. What little they can learn they learn only with great effort.

Another question: If man has an intellectual nature, how come things do not get better over time?

Technological advances are the product of the application of reason to particular problems, and in that respect the world is getting better. Also, our knowledge of morality gets better with time, should anyone care to delve into the heritage of Western Thought. In addition, individual persons get better with age, while the body and the senses deteriorate, the mind often gets better.

But why, if man has intellect, are there such atrocities in the twentieth century? These occur, not because of a lack of knowledge, but because man is free to choose what he will do. Since man is free, his destiny cannot be predicted, and so life is described as a drama. Progress is NOT inevitable.



It is manifest to our senses that things in the world change. This fact is not a mere intuition, but there is the evidence of the senses.

What ever is in the process of changing is being changed by something else. The explanation of this principle is based on an understanding of potency and act. Now every change is from potency to act (from the state 1/ of not being something, yet capable of becoming that thing, to 2/ the state of actually being that thing). If something is capable of change, then it is not yet all that it can be, and so it is not yet in perfect act. If something changes from potency to act, there must be something already in act which moves that thing. For example, wood is capable of being on fire (to be capable of igniting, but not ignited is to be in potency for ignition), but wood will not catch fire except for some actual fire. So each thing that is changed must be changed by something else, or, in the language of Thomas Aquinas, everything that is moved must be moved by something else. But there cannot be an infinite series of movers going back, so there must be a first mover, and that is what we call God.


First of all, what is an efficient cause? There are four types of causes

1/ material cause - as the bricks are the cause of the building; 2/ formal cause - why is the building a building? Because it has the shape or form of a building. The formal cause is the form itself, which is giving actuality to a thing.

2.1/ exemplar cause - the blueprint on paper, or the concept in the mind of the builder is the exemplar cause of the building. Exemplar means model. The exemplar cause is the form as the cuase, but the form in so far as it exists in the agent.

4/ efficient cause - the efficient cause is an actual agent - something that causes something to happen from the power that lies within itself. The only efficient cause in our direct experience is our own selves. We infer that other things are efficient causes from sense observation. When we move ourselves to act when we make a decision, we experience ourselves as an efficient cause of our own actions.

In the world we see an order of efficient causes. But something cannot be the efficient cause of its own self. There cannot be an infinite series of efficient causes, and so there must be one efficient cause at the beginning, and that we call God.


The things of the sensible world are capable of being and of not being. What is capable of not-being at some time does not exist. So, if everything is capable of not-being, then at some time there was nothing. If once there was nothing, then why is there now anything at all? There must exist something which exists by necessity. Now, every necessary thing has its necessity from itself, or from something else. If it has it from something else, there can be no infinite series of things which receive their necessity from something else, and so there must be something which exists of its own necessity, and that all men call God.


We see in things differences in degree, since some things are more or less good, more or less noble, more or less true. So there must exist something which is the maximum good, the maximum noble, the maximum true thing. Now the good and the true are the same as the being, and so that which is the highest good, and that most true, is also that which exists in the highest degree, and will have every perfection that pertains to being. And this we call God.


Things which lack reason act for an end. Now if something acts for an end, it is directed by reason, either by its own reason, as in the case of rational beings, or by the reason of another, as an arrow is directed toward its target by the reason of the archer. Some intelligent being exists by whom all things are directed to their end, and this all men call God.

Friday April 2, 1993

What must be read From Now until the end of the semester

I will cover all the readings in class and make summary notes available, either at the middle or at the end of the month of April.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan Ch.13, 14,

Immanuel Kant Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

Sections I & II

Mill, John Stuart Utilitarianism

Chapters 1, 3, 4,

Readings from Aquinas Second Semester

Summa Theologica

q. 90, aa. 1,2,4

a. 1 Whether law is something pertaining to reason

a. 2 Whether law is always directed to the common good

a. 4 Whether promulgation is essential to law

q. 91 aa., 1,2,3

a. 1 Whether there is an eternal law

a. 2. Whether there is in us a natural law

a. 3. Whether there is a human law

q. 93 aa. 1,2,3

a. 1 Whether the eternal law is a supreme exemplar existing in God

a. 2 Whether the eternal law is known to all

a. 3 Whether every law is derived from the eternal law

q. 94, aa. 2,4,5

a. 2 Whether the natural law contains several precepts, or only one.

a. 4 Whether the natural law is the same in all men

a. 5 Whether the natural law can be changed

q. 95, aa. 1,2

a. 1 Whether it useful for laws to be framed by men

a. 2 Whether every human law is derived from the natural law



Aristotle and tradition describes man in several ways: 1/ man is a rational animal; 2/ man is a social animal; 3/man is a political animal.

Man as a rational animal is unique. There have been no verified contacts with other species of rational animals, but if there were, we would consider them "men" in this sense.

Man as a social animal in not unique. Other animals are social, and animal societies may be remarkably sophisticated, as the ant, or in the mammalian world, the African naked mole-rat, which has one leader, a female, who determines the genders and roles of all members born into that society. Some animals cannot live apart from their society.

Man is a political animal. Other animals live in societies whose forms are governed by instinct. Man determines the form of his own political society, whether monarchy or democracy or some other form.

Why do men live in societies?

There are three general answers to this question:

1/ Man is social by nature. He is prompted to form societies by the demands and impulses of his rational nature. He does this freely, i.e. through his free will.

This is the traditional view of man, held by the Greeks and through mediaeval times. Aristotle declares in the beginning of the "Politics": "Man is by nature a political animal."

2/ Man is not naturally social. However, at some point in history man saw in society certain advantages. At that time men freely formed a compact to form society, and men continue to live in society through habit and training.

This was a new view proposed in the 1600's and the 1700's by Hobbes and Rousseau. They originated MORAL POSITIVISM. They both paint the picture of man in a state of nature, before the formation of society. Hobbes thought that before the existence of society men were at constant war with one another. Rousseau describes that state as one of carefree innocence.

However, men saw advantages in coming together to cooperate, and so they formed a social contract, giving up their individual liberties to the society, where the general will prevails. Once man created society, he found that he was the slave of society. It is impossible to go back to the natural state. Hobbes believes the right way to respond to the situation is simply to submit to society, whereas Rousseau would fight to recover some of the lost liberties. Rousseau is a precursor of Thoreau, who endeavoured to be self-sufficient, and is a precursor of the hippy movement, especially those who tried to get "back to nature".

3/ Man is evolved from lower animals, and his social nature is a development of the herd instincts of lower animals.

The theory of evolution of Charles Darwin proposed a theory that could explain how man and other species came to be based entirely on naturalistic terms. At the one end, it is hypothesized that the formation of life at the molecular level took place as the result of chemical reactions. At the other end, such writers as Edward Wilson, founder of sociobiology, would explain religion and art in terms of their evolutionary advantage.

Karl Marx, who acknowledged a great debt to Charles Darwin, saw the development of society through its various stages as an inevitable evolution. The evolution of society was an extension of the evolution of the species.

The first view, that man is naturally social, stands mid-way between the second and third. The Greeks would agree with Rousseau and Hobbes that society depends on human reason and free will, but would not agree that society is a completely arbitrary creation. Men are not free in the fact that they need to form the state, but they are free in choosing the form of state under which they live. That is determined in some way by a social contract. They would agree with Edward Wilson, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx that society is natural to man, but would disagree with their opinion of man's nature. The evolutionists would hold that man's highest mental operations are continuous with his lowest biological urges, and the difference between them is only one of degree.

Society can be natural to man and a product of reason at the same time, since man is a rational animal, an animal with a rational nature.

Society is Natural to Man

The following characteristics of human nature are signs that society is natural to man.

1/ Man hates solitude and wants friendship or companionship.

2/ The individual man cannot take care of himself. First, when he is a child he needs his parents. Next, by his own efforts he could only obtain a very low standard of life, and so he relies on the labor and skills of others.

3/ Man has the faculty of speech which serves to communicate with others, and to cooperate with them on common projects.

4/ Human progress requires constant communication, and this is possible only in society.

Definition of Society

1. Society needs members. The minimum is two, for without plurality there can be no exchange and no communion.

2. The members must be united in a stable and enduring manner, though not necessarily permanent.

3. There must be cooperation among the members toward some common end. The end will be some common good.

4. Society is held together by moral bonds, which are the bonds between ends and means. Either these bonds exist by freely entered agreements, contracts etc., or they are imposed by law.

5. Society must have an authority, who will direct the cooperative effort to the common good.



Society is not a substance. The human person is a substance, a being in the fullest sense. Society is a series of relations, and so it is a being in a less full sense. These relations which make up society are the results of human acts, and so they are moral relations, the decisions of many human wills to work together for a common good.


temporal welfare of the community. The common good includes the establishment and maintenance of order. It also consists in giving to others and receiving from others things that no one would possess as an individual. A highway could not be built by individuals who looked after nothing but their own immediate interests. The common good includes the things we do that will benefit future generations

Types of Society: Natural, Conventional and Perfect

A Natural Society: one required by nature, whose end is determined by nature. There are two principal types of natural society: the family, and the state.

A Conventional Society: the product of human convention, founded by free agreement among men who set the end and choose the means. This type includes clubs, credit unions, unions etc.

A Perfect Society: a society which is self-sufficient, having all it needs to attain its end. The state is considered to be a self-sufficient society, though this may cease to be the case with the increasing interdependence or states.

An Imperfect Society: a society which is not self-sufficient, but depends on other organizations for support. The family is the only imperfect society which is natural.


No society can function without authority. This is denied by anarchists, and also, in a sense by Marxists. The Marxist agenda requires that the state eventually wither away. But authority is necessary

1/ to remedy ignorance of the natural law through the reinforcement of the positive law.

2/the enforce justice: men wnat benefits but not duties; some one must see that these get distributed properlly.

3/ to provide leadership: some person must have the power to choose the means and bring about cooperation in theuse of these means. Unless someone direts and controls things, there can be no cooperation.

Sometimes authority substitutes for the intellect or will of another, as a parent has to think for the child, since the child is unable to make prudent decisions about the world. This kind of authority may be temporary, as the authority of parents diminishes when the children reach adulthood.

Sometimes, however, authority has an essential function. Even among perfect people, there still needs to be someone to make final decisions, especially about the proper means to an end.


In conventional, or artificial societies, authority comes from the members of that society. With no authority there would be no society. Members of conventional societies can leave those societies at will.

In natural societies, examples of which are the family and the state, the source of authority is the natural law, since mean follow their natural inclinations in joining such a society.


Anarchism is the philosophy that society can survive without authority. But this is overly optimistic, since

1/ what is socially good for man is not known to all;

2/ Benefits and duties must be distributed fairly;

3/ Some one person must choose the correct means to the end.

Authority is the right to direct others and to compel them in what they do. It is given to a natural society directly by God through the natural law, since the existence of authority is necessary as a means to attain the end of such a society, and God cannot will the end without willing the means necessary to it.


The common good is the temporal welfare of the community, both considered as a whole and as a collection of individuals. It is a good which can be realized only by the cooperation of many, and it is realized in the individuals who make up society. A working place may or may not be a society, because it may or may not be united in seeking a common good. If the employer is interested only in profits, and the employees only in wages, they are seeking only their own private goods, but if every one is interested in a quality product, the success of the bussiness and other common goals, then the enterprise becomes a society based on the common good.

1/ The common good consists first in maintaining order. This consists in maintaining clearly defined rights and duties, allowing each individual to act and develop his own personality without undue interference.

Under this aspect, the common good is shared by all equally.

2/ The common good also consists in giving to others and recieving from others things that no one would possess as an individual. This may be called COMMUNION. Civilization depends on specialization, with each contributing in a unique way. Institutions are founded for the common good.

Under this aspect, the common good is shared not equally but PROPORTIONATELY. There should be a proportion between what a person contributes to society and what they receive. This is determined by SOCIAL JUSTICE - a particularly difficult area of distributive justice.


The family, the most primitive society, is a two-fold society:

1/the CONJUGAL society, the husband-wife relation;

2/ the PARENTAL society, the parent-child relation.

The marriage contract forms the family: thereby the man and woman give to each other and receive from each other rights over the body of the other for the performance of the act of procreation.

Marriage is a state: marriage is the society or lasting union of a man and woman resulting from such a contract.


1/ A UNION OF PEOPLE OF OPPOSITE SEXES (and of the same species).

Since marriage has to do with the reproduction of the human race, this is necessary.


It must last as loong as is necessary for its first purpose, to beget and to raise children, until they can become independent. For other reasons, it should also be life-long.


The partners agree to share relations with each other exclusively. Adultery and other acts outside marriage violate justice.


Living together without an agreement is not marriage, but concubinage.


The friendship between man and woman is natural, and humans incline by nature to form couples. It is a natural inclination, but one which we follow using with our free will and reason.

1/ The principal good of marriage is the good of the offspring:

1.1/ to beget children;

Even when the people getting married do not pay attention to this, nature is still leading them on, and everything about marriage leads to children.

1.2/ to educate them and foster their development; In

this way they can reach their perfect state as man.

In duty of raising children belongs to both parents, not to one alone. THe mother's role is obvious, because the child could not survive unless she bore it and nurtured in when it is absolutely helpless. The father also caused the child's existence, and so he is an equal duty for the child's welfare. Since, by nature the woman is occupied entirely with a new-born child, it is up to the father to provide the external goods necessary for life. Also, psychologically, both parents have their particular influence on the development of the child. The father provides the child with a link to the outside world.

Also, since it takes years to raise children, it is unnatural for men and women to have a temporary liaison that may result in conception, and then split up. The use of sex is by nature restricted to marriage.

2/ The secondary good of marriage is the mutual love and help that the couple shows, one person to the other. No one is self- sufficient in all things, and so persons come together in the society of marriage; The followers of Thomas Aquinas wrote: "among the things necessary for life, some are becoming to men, others to women. For this reason nature calls for that society of man and woman which is matrimony" (Summa Theologica, III, Supplement, q. 41, a. 1)

Included here is concupiscence, i.e. sexual desire. In marriage the partners help each other as a remedy for sexual desire. Outside of marriage, people are subject to temptation to do what is wrong.

Included under mutual help, is human love. Human love is on a higher plane than physical desire alone. Love is a disinterested desire for what is good for the other person.

Included here is companionship, which is in practical matters. This can hold two human beings together even when the romance and fire have passed.

Men and women desire to leave behind an image of themselves. This helps keep people together even when the children are adults.



The two main properties of marriage are:

1/ Unity, as opposed to polygamy;

2/ Indissolubility, as opposed to divorce;


POLYGAMY - having more than one spouse:

BIGAMY - one person haveing two spouses;

POLYANDRY - one woman having several husbands;

POLYGYNY - one man having several wives.

Polygamy, whatever its form, does not completely destroy the first end of marriage, since child-bearing is not excluded. But it would make the proper upbringing of children difficult. It does destroy second end of marriage, the mutual love and help of the persons married. It leads to jealousy, and where it is accepted, the woman is often little more than a slave.


Marriage is INDISSOLUBLE: i.e. the marriage cannot be dissolved, and it must last until the death of one of the partners. Separation is when the spouses choose to live apart, and not to function as married people, but without repudiating the bond of marriage. Divorce is the attempt to dissolve the bodn of marriage, so that the spouses may remarry.

The primary end of marriage requires that the couple stay together until the children are independent. So the primary end of marriage requires that the couple remain together at least twenty years.

The secondary end of marriage requires that the marriage last until the death of one of the spouses. Assuming that the couple has stayed together to rear a family, there are reasons of justice for them to stay together. 1/ It would be especially difficult for the woman to start a new life, and the man has a special obligation to stand by the woman and to support her, since she has given her youth, beauty and fertility to raise a family. Also, it would wrong for the woman to leave her man in loneliness. Again separation would be unjust to the children, who have the natural right to expect an inheritance.

Divorce is especially wrong because of its effects upon the cildren.


A man and woman enter upon the contract of marriage by mutual free consent. It is the partners themselves, not nature alone, which determines the choice of partner. It is a contract in the full sense of the word. The parties give to each other strict rights and incur toward each other strict duties. The rights include: 1/ love; 2/cohabitation; 3/ support; 4/ sharing of goods: etc. etc.


Anulment is not the ending of a valid marriage, but the public recognition that there was never a marriage from the beginnng and that MORAL PROBLEMS OF THE DOMESTIC SOCIETY



2/ TOO CLOSE KINSHIP; Incest has always been regarded as wrong. It is up to competent authorities to determine by positive law the closest degree of kinship allowable in marriage.


4/ NOT INTENDING MARRIAGE: If one or both of the parties did not intend marriage at the time of ceremony, these are grounds for anullment. For example, a person insane at the time of the vows would be said not to have intended them.

5/ DECEPTION: If there was a serious deception in a matter that would definitely have affected the consent, that is grounds for anullment. (E.g. one of the parties seriouslyi misrespresents his own identity, or hides the fact that he or she had AIDS, that would be such a deception).

There may be additional impediments determined by positive law, for example, if the parties are not of the age as required by law.


The primary purpose of the natural faculty of sex is procreation. Therefore it is wrong to deliberately frustrate nature by preventing sexual activity from its natural outcome. It may be compared to the ancient Roman practice of eating until one is full, then vomiting in order to be able to eat even more. The Romans separated the act and the pleasure of eating from its natural end, which is nourishment.

Our understanding of nature shows that men and woman have a more or less constant sexual appetite, whereas the period of fertility is limited to a few days of the month. If a married couple wishes to delay child-bearing for a good reason, they can work within the confines of nature and use their knowledge of the fertility cycle to control fertility. There are good reasons why this is preferable over contraception:

1/ the couple is working within the proper limits of nature;

2/ they will communicate with one another concerning sex, which is good for their relationship;

3/ the deliberate use of contraception leads to treating people as nothing more than sex objects, as means to sexual pleasure; this is using a human person as a mere means, instead of as an end.

4/ forms of direct contraception interfere with hormones, which is dangerous, since the balance of hormones in the body is very complex. They also carry other medical and psychological risks.

Also, it is normally the case that while a woman is breast- feeding an infant, she will not become pregnant. This has a double advantage:

1/ breast-feeding is healthier for the infant than other forms of feeding - the chemical composition of mother's milk actually changes over time to adapt to different stages in the baby's development, and also contains antibodies;

2/ breast feeding has psychological value, in that it is part of the natural bonding process of mother and child.

2/ provided society makes it possible for the woman to spend her own time with the child, this is the most natural way of spacing children.

(see Herbert Ratner, M.D., "Child Spacing", published by "Child and Family", Box 508, Oak Park, IL 60303)

April 7, 1993



As stated before, there are two natural societies:

1/ the family;

2/ the state - political or civil society.

There are two theories of the origin of the state:

1/ The State has its origins in Man's Nature:

This is the position of Aristotle. The main argument is that man is not self-sufficient and so needs to live in a society with others. The most elementary form of society is the family, which provides for daily needs of its members. But the family alone could never have developed any of the more complex skills necessary for life.

2/ The extended family expands into the clan or the tribe: The clan is a group descended from one fore-father, but a tribe has a more diffuse ancestry. Settling in one place, they become a village community. Several villages form a larger community which becomes more recognizably a state. At this point the society develops a clear military organization to protect against attack from without, economic organization to protect against famine, a legal system to handle internal conflicts. The society will adopt some sort of leadership structure. With the existence of clearly defined authority we have a state.

Man is guided by instinct for society, and has the ability of speech, which is intended for use in society, but at each step of the way he uses reason to choose the means to his natural end.


2.1/ Thomas Hobbes: Thomas Hobbes said that man by nature is anti-social. Living in a natural state, each man looks primarily to his own benefit, and he is at constant war with others. In that state there is no justice or injustice, it is simply a matter of getting the best for one's self. Every man has a right to everything. But men see the disadvantage in their natural state, and enter upon a social contract. They agree to hand over certain of their rights to some one man. Their unity under the one man is called a commonwealth. The commonwealth or state is like a god, in the words of Thomas Hobbes "that mortal god, to whom we owee under the mortal god, our peace and defense".

2.2/ Jean Jacques Roussea: Rousseau agrees with Hobbes that man's natural state is as an individual, although he admits that the family is a natural society. In the beginning men lived happily, with nature supplying everything necessary. When private property was invented, however, men came into coflict with one another, and to resolve the conflict they entered into the social contract. The social contract is something that men enter into freely, giving over their own rights to the general will, and receiving in turn the same from others. When the individual obeys the general will, he is obeying himself, since by the social contract he has adopted the general will as his own will.

2.3/ John Locke: Locke held that men are social by nature, but that political society began by the social contract. He believes that men by nature have a number of rights that they relinquish willingly in order to form a state. Lawful government is formed by a majority of free men forming an agreement.


1/ Man is naturally social, and cannot live without the support of some society.

2/ There never was a time where man was not bound by morality, or in which private property did not exist. Wherever there is man, there is human nature, and the natural law.

3/ Family life is necessary for man to live, and it is the source of the state, through the stages of clan and tribe. Since man always needs the family, and the family is a society, man always lived in some society.

4/ The individual and the family have some rights which are inalienable, and cannot be passed on to the state. But the social contract would require handing over all rights.

5/ If society were formed by a social contract, how could the people of the past make an agreement binding upon the people of the present. But people become citizens by the mere fact of being born within the borders of a certain country.

6/ The state has some rights that no individual possesses, such as the right to declare war and to inflict capital pubishment. But if the state is the result of the social contract, then the only rights it can possess are those that an individual transfers from himself to the state.


A Perfect Society is a society which is to some extent self- sufficient, having everything it needs to fulfill its end. In this sense, however, state are becoming more and more inter- dependent, and authoritative bodies with power in several states are being developed. For example, the European Parliament associated with the European Economic Community, the World Court in the Hague, the United Nations, and the still forming Pan- American Trading Bloc.


The state exists for man, not man for the state. As a person, man is a substance - "an individual substance of rational nature" , "a unique center of conscious, autonomous being", but the state is merely a set of relations.

"Man is not ordained to the political community according to all that he is and has" (Summa Theologica 1-2, q. 21, a.4) As a person, man is above society, with nothing above him but God. The state is only a means in helping man to achieve his last end, and man is immortal, but the state is a creature of time.

"Each single person is compared to the whole community as the part is to the whole"

Man depends utterly upon other men in all his needs. Because of their inter-dependence, while on earth in this life men are to society as parts to a whole. The common welfare takes precedence over the private comfort and security of the individual. The individual may be asked to risk his own life, liberty and property in defending that of all.


1/ ATOMISM or INDIVIDUALISTIC LIBERALISM: the state is made primarily of individuals. The individuals continue to act for their individual interests, cooperating only when their individual interests coincide. When their individual interest coincide, they band together by means of contracts. This view is also part of LAISSEZ-FAIRE LIBERALISM.

This theory lay the ground-work of rugged individualism in the 19th century. The freedom of the individual was used to justify the practice whereby the strong and cunning could take advantage of every opportunity to oppress the weak. One solution offered was socialism, with the extreme form being communism. Another, the more common approach today, was for the state to intervene directly into the conduct of business. The better solution we will discuss below.

Here we must call things what they are: Rush Limbaugh is by this definition a Liberal, since this view is precisely his.

2/ STATE ABSOLUTISM: The individual members of the society are thought to be completely subordinate to the whole, as organs to the body. Comparing the state to the body and the members to parts or organs is a useful analogy, but this theory takes the analogy to its limits. This is the view of totalitarianism - the collectivity is everything, the individual is nothing. This view of society would accommodate easily Planned Parenthood, eugenics, euthanasia, abortion, etc.

3/ NATURAL SYSTEM - THE ORGANIC CONCEPT OF THE STATE: The state is complex, made up not only of individuals, but families. There are also voluntary organizations that contribute to the common good, so that the state does not carry all the responsibility for the common good. The state respects the proper roles of the societies that exist within it.

This is the PRINCIPLE OF SUBSIDIARITY: No higher organization should take over work that a lower organization can do satisfactorily. The higher does ot exist to absorb or extinguish the lower but to supplement and extend it.

Each occupation ideally would have its own organization to respresent its interests. First of all, the union or guild, or professional association, should seek to maintain a quality of workmanship and establish standards. Also, members of the same profession may help each other. Again, just as those who own capital may combine their efforts, so those who offer their labour and services may do the same in the market-place.

Although the capitalists of teh 19th and earlly 20th century often crushed unions as socialist, Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations", the first major theoretician of capitalism, saw that labour could market its commodity just as capitalists do, and that unions were a very natural result of capitalist economic theory.


1/ THE FINAL CAUSE OF THE STATE: the final cause, or end, of the state is the public good or peace and public prosperity.

TOTALITARIANISM - where the state is seen as a living substantial entity, and the human members as only parts. Here the state becomes an end to itself, and its power extends into every area of human life.

LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM - where the only end of the state is stop teh war of every man against every man. Kant gave expression to this view: the state has nothing to do with morality; its sole function is to safeguard the external conditions where the rights and liberties of all might coexist. The economists of the Manchester School held that man participating in the economy should act solely in his own interests, with free trade everywhere and unlimited competition. This is a state known as "Anarchy plus the policeman." The possession of property carried with it rights but no obligations.

PATERNALISM - This is the view that the state owes everyone a living, and that the state should directly take care of its citizens. Unfortunately, in order to this, the rights of the individual, and especially the rights of the family as the principal social unit, must be limited. The state has no obligation to see that everyone is equal in property.

Paternalism undermines both the family and the moral integrity of the individual. St. Paul writes "If any man will not work, neither let him eat".

While the state should not play the role of mother and father, taking care of every need, it can and should come to the rescue in disasters and in cases of extreme destitution. If there is a large group of people who are utterly without property, it is in the interest of eveyrbody to see that they have enough to seek a living.

Thomas Aquinas asks whether private property is licit. He makes a disticntion between the power of obtaining and dispensing property, and the use of property. The power of obtaining and dispensing property best belongs to the individual; the use of private property should be common. Thus those who have much should help those who do not. (S-T 2-2, q. 66, a.2) In cases of extreme need, external things should benefit those who are in need: "IN NECESSITATE OMNIA SUNT COMMUNIA" - IN NECESSITY, ALL THINGS ARE COMMON.(ibidem a.7) Elsewhere, it is pointed out that the existence of a class of people in extreme want is detrimental to the common good and order.


The end of the state is to pursue peace and public prosperity.

PEACE - by maintaining commutative justice, making individuals and families secure in their rights.

PUBLIC PROSPERITY - The things needed if private well-being is to be within the reach of all. For example, that there should be OPPORTUNITIES so that all may seek a living. The state should not supply every need, but should make it possible for people to help themselves.

2/ THE FORMAL CAUSE OF THE STATE: The formal cause of the state is the form that makes it what it is. According to formal cause, the state exists because of the moral and (juridic) lawful bond between its members. This is the area of CIVIC JUSTICE: justice in the context of the state, and it includes COMMUTATIVE, DISTRIBUTIVE and LEGAL JUSTICE.

3/ THE MATERIAL CAUSE OF THE STATE: The material cause of the state is the many parts that compose it. To restate what was said above: 1/ according to SOCIAL ATOMISM - the material cause of the state would be exclusively the individuals who compose it; 2/ according to the theory of the SOCIAL ORGANISM - the state is composed of its members as a body is composed of organs - they have no existence apart from the state; 3/ the NATURAL VIEW - the state is composed of less perfect societies and social units, which are dependent upon one another in various ways. The primary unit that makes up the state is the family, with various other societies between them.

4/ THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF THE STATE: The material cause of the State is the consent, even if only tacit consent, of the governed.

Wednesday, April 14, 1993


The common good is the well-being of society as a whole and the help that if holds forth to the individual. There is a real difference between the common good and individual goods. Both INDIVIDUALISTS and TOTALITARIANS hold that the common good and the individual good differ only in degree.

1. THE INDIVIDUALIST IDEA OF THE COMMON GOOD: According to Adam Smith, the common good is the result of everyone pursuing their private goods to the best of their ability. The common good is the harmonization of many private goods.

2. THE TOTALITARIAN IDEA OF THE COMMON GOOD: The Nazis and the communists say that the individual good is only a miniscule share in the collective good.


A citizen is a member of the state. He owes allegiance to the laws of the state and is entitled to minimal civil privileges. A person who is a convicted felon is no longer a citizen, as by his criminal conduct he has forfeited his citizenship. The citizen must presume that all the laws are just until there is positive proof that some law is not just.

The Common Good The Public Good The Private Good
cannot be property, e.g. wisdom, patriotism, friendship is property, e.g. public buildings, roads, armaments is property

and is owned by individuals

obtained by association,

enjoyed by all the members of society

enjoyed by all, used to protect order in societies (natural societies) used by a member of society, either individually or together with others




Presented in order of importance, from lowest to highest, they are as follows. Note that the lower exists for the sake of the higher and more perfect. The practical intellect preserves the goods of man's vegetative and sensitive aspects for the sake of the speculative intellect.

THE BODY ECONOMIC. corresponds to the VEGETATIVE LEVEL and, by acts of exchange, produces LEISURE which is necessary for CULTURE.

THE BODY RECREATIVE. corresponds to the SENSITIVE LEVEL and is directed at causing and maintaining HEALTH, which is necessary for POLITICAL AND CULTURAL LIFE

THE BODY POLITIC, corresponds to the RATIONAL PRACTICAL LEVEL in man, and is directed at maintaining CIVIC FRIENDSHIP, PEACE, ORDER FREEDOM, JUSTICE, ETC. so that man may have freedom for ECONOMIC LIFE and conditions conducive to HEALTH


The term GOVERNMENT is usually used to designate political authority. GOVERNMENT is 1/the act of governing; 2/ the actual institution of political authority; 3/ the people in power. It is in the second sense that interests us.

According to Hobbes, society arose when made a compact for the purposes of self-preservation and peace. It was not enough merely to make the compact, however, and so men had to be tied together with the fear of punishment, and give the power to punish to one man. The state was the Leviathan, "that mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defense".


Again, the social contract. Rousseau placed premium value on freedom, and so the problem was: how could men form a state and still be free as individuals. He thought that they could remain as free within society as without it. The individual makes his will at one with the general will, and so what the general will wants, he wants, and so in obeying the general will, he is obeying himself. The individual is an indivisible part of the whole.


According to Locke, man by nature lived in a community, called a natural community. In that natural community, people enjoy equality, independence, and have the right to punish violations of Natural Law. Men unite in a commonwealth in order to preserve their property, by laws. To this end they establish a legislative power, which is then sacred and cannot be altered. (This is a defense of the parliamentary system as it existed in his time against perceived threats from the monarchy)


The family is the first to exist in time. The successively larger social units spring from the family. The authority of the larger units (tribe, village) is derived from the authority of the father over his family. The authority of the father passes to the eldest son, who would also rule over his brothers. The institution of monarchy is an extension of this. Aristotle, however, holds that monarchy is not the only type of government.

(Aristotle's POLITICS, I, i, 5-6)

King Henry VIII claimed all authority, including religious authority. Later, King James I of England defended the theory of the divine right of kings in a book. This theory held that God directly gives power to monarchs, as God gave power to Saul in the Bible to be king of the Hebrews. The power rests in the king and is passed on to his heirs forever.


The scholastic philosophers start with Thomas Aquinas, and include Robert Bellarmine, Suarez, and many others up to the present day.

Later scholastics formulated the THEORY OF POPULAR CONSENT. People are obliged by nature to form a state out of necessity. All authority comes from God, and it is vested in the state as a whole. No individual man has political power as an individual, but it resides in the collected body. Men, by tacit or active consent, agree on how they are to be ruled. The many delegate their power to some one ruler. The authority that the state has is now made very concrete and is endorsed by the will of God.

The fact that there must be a government is from God and directly from nature. The individual forms of government are derived from man's determination. "It depends on the consent of the people to decide whether kings, or consuls, or other magistrates are tobe established in authority over them; and, if there be legitimate cause, the people can change a kingdom into an aristocracy, or an aristocracy into a democracy, or vice versa".

The social contract does not establish political society itself, but only determines the form of government and the ruler.

(see Bellarmine, DE LAICIS, bk. III, ch. 6)


Three essential elements to the state: 1/ social bond; 2/ authority; 3/ definite territory.

1/ Social Bond: The people living within the state have a feeling of belonging to the state as citizens. The size of the state does not matter here: whether large as China, or small as Malta. The citizens feel distinct from foreigners.

2/ Authority: authority possessing real power is necessary for the state. The people must be convinced that the authority of the state must exist. Even if they do not whole-heartedly accept the actual state, it is sufficient that they agree as to its necessity. The aspect of consent to authority was not widely discussed in the middle ages, as there were few democracies.

3/ Territory: Territory is defined by the borders of the state. Various international conventions exist as to the extent of the state beyond coastlines. The questions of air-space and rights to outer-space are still being worked out in international law.

The state is rooted in the needs and inclinations of human nature. Man is intended by his nature to live in society, the sign of which is his ability to speak.

(see Mieczyslaw Krapiec, "Czlowiek i Prawo Naturalne" (Man and the Natural Law))


According to Aristotle:


Monarchy (government by one)..........tyranny

Aristocracy (gov. by the virtuous).....oligarchy (gov. by the few)

Polity (what we call democracy) .......democracy (what we call

mob rule)

Monarchy was thought to be the best form, and the corruption of that which is best is the worst, and so tyranny is the worst.

According to Plato:

According to Plato in the "Republic", government would generally evolve from the best constitution to the worst. He saw a parallel between the different states, and succesive generations in one family, where the sons look at the life their father led and try to live differently so as not to fall short in the same way.

1/ aristocracy (the excellent rule) a special class of people bred and educated for rule ->

2/ timocracy (the honourable rule) a state in which ambitious, energetic and athletic men rule, but they are uncertain. They are civic-minded and not occupied with making money.

3/oligarchy (rule by a few) a society in which wealth is the criterion of merit and the wealthy rule. A criminal class forms when society is polarized between the wealthy and the poor.

4/ democracy (rule by the many) - In the democratic society, people no longer look to hard work for the sake of making money, but seek immediate gratification. the poor, who are the majority, gain the upper hand. Democracy, however, leads to anarchy. Anarchy leads to a reaction, where people desire law and order, and are willing to submit to a tyrant.

5/ tyranny (rule by one with too much power). The tyrant is like a criminal in character. He is characterized by unrestrained desires.



The term "ECONOMY" according to its Greek roots means "LAW OF THE HOUSEHOLD". In ancient times, the household was the primary economic unit. The man, for example, might grow live-stock, or corn, and the woman might produce clothers, or there would be some other division of labour. The household would trade with others, and all would benefit from the exchange.

The besic principle of the exchange of goods and services is that this allows individuals in society to specialize. One man may devote his life to making shoes, and he will be very good at it, and another to growing wheat, and he will acquire much skill and expertise. Their exchange of goods results in leisure for both of them, that they would not possess if they were reliant only upon the resources of their own housholds.




A RIGHT: Ownership is more than mere possession - a thief is said to hold in his possession stolen goods, but he has no right.

EXCLUSIVENESS: Only the owner has the use of the thing owned. If something is owned, non-owners do not have a right to use the thing. CONTROL AND DISPOSAL: Anything may be done with property by the owner. The owner's control and disposal of his own property may be restricted to protect someone else's rights of a higher order.

OVER A THING: a material thing, a service, a means of exchange, an animal, land, but not another person.

AT WILL: The owner may do as he pleases with his property without consulting anyone.


Man needs material things for life, and so his right to material things follows from his right to life. Lower things are meant for the sake of higher things, and man is the highest thing in visible nature. Therefore the things of nature exist for the sake of man.

Animals merely take and consume what they find, although there are some basic instincts among many animals for holding territory. Man does not merely consume natural things, but he uses his mind to adapt natural things to his purpose, whether he uses natural objects as building materials, or uses living things to breed them and cultivate them. Man benefits not only from using nature, but from controlling it. In fact, nature does not supply man with what he needs unless man works.

Now, there are other alternatives to private property, as in collective ownership in primitive tribes, or communism, whether in its Marxist form, or as practised internally within religious orders. In the Inca empire, all land belonged to the king, and he would give the land to a man to till until he was about sixty, then it would pass to another, at the choice of the authorities. There have been many variations and degrees between collective ownership and private ownership.

Thomas Aquinas thought that private ownership was not the only way permissible by the natural law, but the best way. He gives the following reasons.

1/ every man is more careful of that which is his own, than that which belongs to everyone;

2/ if each man has charge of taking care of some particular thing, there is less confusion than if everyone took care of everything;

3/ man lives in greater peace if each person is contented with that which is his own. Where ownership of things is not clearly defined, there are many quarrels.

The philosophers who followed St. Thomas in general justified private property, though some were in favour of community property. Thomas More, in his book "Utopia" and other writings, recommended a society without money. In the New World, a Catholic Bishop in Mexico who corresponded with Thomas More actually instituted a city on the basis of More's theories. Also, the Jesuits in Uraguay settled the natives into communities called "reductiones", where they lived a communist existence under the watchful eye of the Jesuits, who protected them against the influence of traders and other westerners. This was demoralizing, however. The Indians lost their interest in life. In fact, the Jesuits had to ring bells in the middle of the night to remind them to be interested in reproduction.

In general, however, later scholastics were in favour of private ownership, and tended to see it as the exclusive form of economy endorsed by the natural law. Here are some reasons:


1/ Man needs the goods of the earth, and he must apply his intellect and work to these goods in order to meed his needs. Man is therefore by nature the owner of these goods. He can own things over and above what he needs in the immediate present.

2/ Man impresses his personality upon his work. Nature supplies only potential wealth, it is man's work that makes wealth actual. Man can only work on things if he possesses them, and after he develops things, he has the right to keep what he was worked upon.

3/ Nature does not supply what man needs constantly, but only at certain seasons. Man, like the ant in the story of the "ant and the grasshopper" must make provision for the time of scarcity.

4/ Man has the right to provide for his family, and so he can ammass enough goods for that purpose.

5/ Society benefits from specialization. The person who produces a specialized product should be able to store the results of his work until he can trade them. In this way, he has something to fall back upon if sickness or old age prevent him from working.

6/ the Profit Motive: unless men see some personal benefit from doing a job well, they lose interest. They are motivated to work hard if by doing so they can enjoy greater independence.

7/ The state requires a solid middle class - people who are not extremely rich, but prosperous. The middle class have enough property to undertake new ventures, but not enough to remain idle. Their existence stands in the way of tyranny and of anarchy, and they are a force for peace and order.


1/ OCCUPANCY: One takes possession of something having no owner.

2/ LABOR: One adds new value by labour to raw materials. If one man owns the raw materials and the other contributes the labour, then their respective share in ownership of the finished product is settled by a contact. Usually, in such a case, the worker gets paid and the owner of the raw materials keeps the thing.


4/ TRADE - whether barter, or buying and selling. In a sense, a trade is an exchange of gifts, but since the motive is not simply that of friendship, it is usually not thought of as a gift.

5/ INHERITANCE - 1/ IN THE ABSENCE OF A WILL - Since property is not simply order to the benefit of the individual, but to that of the family, the property of a man should pass to his family. Positive Civil Law would have more specific details to add.

- 2/ IN THE WILL - just as a man may give gifts of what are his own things while alive, so he may give gifts that pass to others after his death.

6/ ACCESSION - when by nature or by art one's property increments or grows. If trees grow on my property, the wood is mine - a case of NATURAL ACCESSION. I have my property landscaped - a case of ARTIFICIAL ACCESSION.


The seller must own the goods, and he must be honest and open about their condition, especially in the case of serious defects. The buyer should pay in full in a reasonable time.


Buying and selling has

1/ a commercial aspect: it involves a price;

2/ a moral aspect: in involves justice.

There must be a fair price.

The just price is determined by the usefulness of the commodity to men in general. It is not determined by the usefulness to merely one man, for then it would be moral to sell a drink of water for a million dollars to a thirsty man, but it is not just to take advantage of another's misery in this way. The just price may fall within a broad range, so that there would be a highest and a lowest just price. To buy too low or sell too high is to take unfair advantage of the predicament of the other.

The just price of collector's items and museum pieces is much more elastic than the just price of normal commodities.

The state may intervene to set a legal price, which if it is properly calculated will be recognized as the just price.


Monopoly is exclusive control over a certain market. One who has a monopoly has no competition and can fix the price of his commodity. Various monopolies:

1/ PRIVATE MONOPOLIES: such as the railroads,

2/ PUBLIC MONOPOLIES: such as the postal service, or the sale of alcohol in Ontario.

3/ NATURAL MONOPOLIES: existing on account of the nature of the commodity, 1/ if something occurs only in certain places, e.g. you have the only titanium mine around; 2/ if the commodity is the reuslt of a secret process, such as the hydrogen bomb; 3/ if it requires a huge investment, such as the Suez Canal.

4/ LEGAL MONOPOLIES: existing on account of civil law, such as those based on patents and copyrights.

Monopolies may be

1/just: when its control is used for the public welfare - such as patents and copyrights protect the livelihood of inventors and their backers. Without such laws they could not earn a livelihood, and society would be poor for it

2/ unjust: if its control is used against the common welfare. Selling at a price below the minimum just price in order to eliminate competition is immoral.

UNJUST MONOPOLIES are a great evil to society. The free exchange of goods serves the common good. Competition contributes to better products, and also provides a means whereby a person or persons with incentive can better their lot in life.


Capitalism is the investment of money or goods in order to obtain a return or earn interest. The result is that there are two kinds of capitalism, based on the manner in which money is invested:

1/ anti-productive capitalism: in order to control access to a market, business, alone or with government sets up artificial barriers that require substantial investment if they are to be overcome. For example, while building codes are good and necessary, they can be used as a weapon to restrain the development of property.

Another example, undertakers set standards that then are enacted into laws, so that no one can avoid the great expense of a funeral. Compare American Funeral customs with those of other countries.

Another example, the Rockerfellers would have a small but controlling interest in one corporation, which in turn had a small ut controlling interest in another, through several levels, so that for a minimum of investment they controlled the natural course of commerce.

2/ productive capitalism: this is the normal and good sort of investment. Investors use their resourcees to develop technology, for production, for informative advertising.


What individuals and corporations do, may also be done by sovereign states at the international level, and it is just as unjust. Countries with great power can set up trade barriers that prevent smaller and weaker countries from fairly competing. This in turn leads to excessive poverty, and present a threat to peace.

Perhaps the owner of a successful software company put it best "We are successful because we set out to make a living, not a killing." "To make a living" is a good metaphor for the moral form of economic investment; "to make a killing" is a good metaphor for the anti-productive form.

While there are individuals who do nothing but invest, it is possible for any individual to be a capitalist in some small measure in a properly running society. Aristotle seemed to have a grasp of the capitalist attitude:

"There are four qualities the head of a household must possess in dealing with his property. 1/ He must have the faculty of acquiring; 2/ he must have the faculty of preserving what he has acquired, otherwise it is like a winejar with a hole in the bottom; 3/ he must know how to improve his property, and 4/ he must know how to make use of it, since there are the ends for which the powers of acquisition and preservation are sought."

"....Everything we possess should be duly classified; and the amount of our productive property should exceed that of the unproductive. Produce should be so employed that we do not risk all our possessions at once." (Aristotle, OECONOMICA, I, vi, 1344b)

By the year 2000 the Japanese economy shall be as big as the American economy, and now it stands at 60% in size. Other oriental economies are also growing in the same way. The key is that their savings are on the order of 30% of their production, which savings are then available for re-investment. They save and invest, rather than borrow from the future.


All socialist doctrines call for the common ownership of property. Many ancient societies had socialist characteristics, such as the Inca Empire, Egypt, and Ancient China. It was most often associated with agrarian societies. Besides such systems, there has been a constant thread of revolutionary socialism throughout history. Revolutionary socialisms propose the complete rejection of the existing social order, whereby a more just and happy society will be produced. They most often have a highly developed theoretical element and tend to Utopianism.


Before Christ, The Greek Playwright Aristophanes wrote "THE CONGRESSWOMAN" in which we find ideas later echoed in Marx. The women take over the government of a Greek City and bring in a new order: 1/ private property is abolished; 2/ the family is abolished: there is community of wives; and the bonds between parents and children are disrupted; 3/ there is a purely material prosperity.

Plato, in "THE REPUBLIC", also recommended a form of communism, where men who had special enlightenment held power. Poets were banned, music was controlled, and the state created myths that would instill proper spirit necessary for the state into the guardians.

The words "mine" and "not mine" are the greatest obstacles to unity among citizens. The guardians would preserve the state without owning property.


There are many indications of a teaching resembling socialism in the Christian Scriptures. The renunciation of one's own property is posed as a condition for being a follower, presumably an apostle. It is recorded in the "Acts of the Apostles" that many of the early Christians held goods in common, though they were not forced to do so.

"The faithful all lived together and held everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed." (Acts 2: 44-47)

Many were Christians and continued to hold property, as is also apparent from reading the "Acts of the Apostles". In the first and second centuries, various groups (the Nicolaitans and the followers of Carpocrates) had a socialist interpretation of Christianity. The Nicolaitans held all goods in common, and also held wives in common. The Manichean sect, to which St. Augustine belonged for some years, gave rise to many socialist sects.

There was a sect in Fifth Century Persia, inspired by Mazdak, where all women were accessible and all wealth common. Even the king was won over to the doctrine, but there was no security, and so the movement fell apart.


Chiliastic Socialism - many sects which practised socialism looked forward to the imminent return of Christ, in many cases there being a definite date set for His Return. The second coming would be a time of terrible vengeance, and quite often, a belief in the second coming would justify revolution which would serve to bring the event closer. These were opposed to the Catholic Church, which was a visible institution with obvious intentions to last well into the future.

The Cathari with as many as 40 sub-sects ("The Pure One" - the term is translated) and the Albigensians were gnostic sects that thought the physical world was evil, and the spiritual world was good. The evil god had created the visible world, andthe good god had created the spiritual wolrd. They thought that human propagation, the begetting of children, was evil, that it was Satan's work.

Secular power was considered to be the creation of the evil god, so they need not submit to it, nor were they to become involved in legal proceedings or taking oaths. They burned Churches and killed bishops in the 1200s, since they identified the Church with the "Whore of Babylon". They blessed suicide with a Sacrament called "CONSOLAMENTUM" - if the sick received their alst sacrament and still recovered, they were urged to commit suicide. They held goods in common, and condemned Christians who hald private property.

Some mediaeval communists held that socialism would be the result of an inevitable social process. Joachim de Flore held that history was divided into

1/ the kingdom of the Father - which lasted until Christ - the time of the Old Testament - an age of slavish submission;

2/ Kingdom of the Son - year 0 a.d. to 1260;

3/ the Kingdom of the Spirit - 1260 on. The age of the spirit, which would see an end to "mine" and "thine", would be preceded by the coming of the Anti-Christ. Joachim de Flore was a precursor to Hegel, who saw history as an inevitable unfolding of certain ideas, and Hegel in turn provided an ideology for Marx.

Later socialists, even when they reject all religion, still draw from the development of religious ideas, especially that the world had a beginning and history is moving inevitably to its proper end. They also draw on the hope of a messiah, whether the second coming of Christ, or the socialist state as a saviour.


There were many writer of the Enlightenment who proposed Utopian societies which would be governed by reason, in which property would be held in common.

Thomas More "Utopia":

- uniformity of dress,

- food held in public storehouses,

- monogamy,

- universal 6 hour work day,

- Belief in God mandatory, but tolerance of various religions.

Tommaso Campanella "City of the Sun": Some ideas:

- universal obligatory labour, work organized like an army,

- men and women would wear almost identical clothes,

- art directed to the glory of national heroes;

- procreation controlled by the state. The state decides who sleeps with whom and when.

- children brought up by the state, no ties of kinship.

In the 1700s in France, various writers popularized socialist ideas in novels and treatises. The Christian element of earlier socialisms disappeared in the new proposals. The most important was Jean Meslier who wrote "Testament". Religion has no basis and only a negative social role, perpetuating inequality and superstition. Religion is responsible for the majority of human misfortunes. Meslier called for revolution, the killing of all kings, and the annihilation of all who might be more prosperous than average. Private property is the cause of inequality. Meslier's work was praised highly by Voltaire, who called it a demonic catechism. He was to receive the honour of a statue in the proposed French "Temple of Reason".

Philip Buonarroti and Francois Emile Babeuf were two socialists in the times of the French Revolution. They were a "new breed" in as much as they went beyond theory and proposed concrete steps to bring about the socialist society. Buonarroti founded a circle in Geneva which had a great influece on Marx. They proposed abolition of private property, compulsory labour, public warehouses. Teachers must take oaths of loyalty. Foreigners must be very carefully supervised. Dissidents and suspicious foreigners would be held INCOMMUNICADO under close supervion. Entertainment is carefully controlled. Once the new order is introduced in France, France must be temporarily isolated. The first stages of socialism would require absolute authority in the hands of the conspirators.

THE PARTY - People could choose whether to join the socialist society, but if they refused they would be as foreigners and required to pay exorbitant taxes, in effect subsidizing the rest. If one joined, all his debts would be remitted. If poor, he would be housed in the homes of the reactionaries.

All of this would require a bureaucracy of unprecedented size.


When in 1862 the lot of peasants in Russia was improved, the socialists (Chernyohersky) complained that any improvement in the life of the peasants would divert them from revolution. At a time when Dickens and others were trying, with some success, to abolish child labour, Marx called for a society in which: "each child from the age of nine ought to be a productive worker." Marx and Engels, in their private correspondence, would rejoice when they heard of famine and unrest, of depression and hardship.

The main achievements in social justice in the west were accomplished with very little participation by the socialists. Ideological communists would often oppose changes that improved the lot of the workers, as they would rather have the workers in a state of discontent that would incline them to revolution.

(cf. THE SOCIALIST PHENOMENON by Igor Shafarevich, Harper & Roew, 1980) (cf. pg. 223 f)


Marxist theory requires conflict. This is implicit in the theory of dialectic materialism. "Dialectic" is debate as a means of reaching truth. One debater proposes a thesis, the other proposes an antithesis (the opposite argument), and the two argue until they come to agreement, which is called a synthesis. THe synthesis will then be the thesis of the next argument, and so on.

Hegel, a German philosopher, took the dialectic and described it as the process of the development of various states of consciousness. The process he describes leads to the development of the state, which is conscious and superior to the individual. Hegel also embraced contradiction, at the same time undermining the rational order. He wrote "Contradictio Lex Veri, Noncontradictio Lex Falsi" - "Contradiction is the Law of the Truth, Non-contradiction is the Law of Falshood" - whereas the law of Non-contradiction ("Something cannot both be and not be in the same respect and at the same time") is absolutely essential to our knowledge of the truth and our reasoning.

Marx took this theory and, instead of states of consciousness, he saw the THESIS-ANTITHESIS-SYNTHESIS process as being a material process. Material forces and entities in conflict with one another would produce a series of higher syntheses. In this way society would inevitably evolve. In fact, conflict was necessary for progress. He thought that the only way that employer and employee could relate to one another was as enemies, and out of their enmity would be born a fruitful conflict.

Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, heaps scorn on the bourgoisie, the middle class. Aristotle sees the existence of the middle class as necessary to the well-being and stability of the state. Marx sees them as an obstacle to revolutionary progress, perhaps because they are content.

The primacy of revolution is apparent in the Communist Manifesto: "In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things."(The end of the document)


On the one hand, the term "socialism" is sometimes used to cover such mundane things as public transportation, or subsidized education. Such things, to greater or lesser degree, are undertaken by every state. The appeal of socialism is:

1/ its claim of being scientific, which gives people certainty in lieu of religious certainty;

2/ it provides a secular messiah; even atheistic socialism draws on certain religious ideas; the idea of history is essentially religious - that there is a progress in time and hope for a better future - this hope was first offered by religion, and is embodied in the promise of a messiah.

3/ it allows people to gain immortality by becoming a mere part of the collective: the individual, according to Marx (and Freud, and Marcuse) is a mere illusion. In reality, the individual is a part of the whole, and his individuality is the sum of the social and economic forces that surround him.

4/ it makes life exciting for bored academics: this is not trite: Eric Hoffer, in "The Ordeal of Change", presents the scenario of revolution. Society produces people with liberal educations, distinct from the working class. But there are no opportunities for them to get work which they regard as suitable to their talents. This in turn leads to resentment, and so they pose as revolutionaries, as architects of social change, in order to give themselves this feeling of importance. Meanwhile, they have nothing but contempt for the lower classes whom they are trying to liberate.

5/ it promises loss of individuality: the "New Left" of the sixties and seventies proposed various types of revolution; the psychedelic revolution, where people could lose their individuality through hallucinogenic drugs; the sexual revolution, where people could lose their individuality through sexual encounters in which their identity did not matter; various social revolutions. The order of procreative sexuality is presented as a form of repression from which society must be liberated. Ultimately all order is negated. Even ostentatious slovenliness is justified (jeans with holes, unpleasant odors) since this is a way of identifying with the lower classes over against the dominant classes.

Socialism in general wishes to abolish the family. The Communist Manifesto calls for the end of the bourgois family. Lenin experimented with common quarters for several families, all sharing the same dining room. Children were raised apart form their families. The Communist Manifesto called for an end to inheritance, which is essential to preserve the identity of a family over generations.



There are some benefits to common ownership of property: 1/ the elimination of insecurity and jealousy; 2/ the elimination of a great gap between the rich and the poor.

There are also costs which must be weighed. 1/ the loss of ambition and incentive among individuals; 2/ the need for compulsion - people have to sacrifice a degree of freedom in many areas; 3/ individuals will lack solicitude for the general property; 4/ central planning must replace individual planning, but central planners cannot react as quickly to reality to make necessary changes in their plans.

Also, it would seem that the state must enforce greater intellectual and religious unity - pluralism cannot be allowed to threaten the commonality of property.

Socialism primarily goes against the principle of subsidiarity: NO HIGHER ORGANIZATION SHOULD TAKE OVER WORK THAT A LOWER ORGANIZATION CAN DO SATISFACTORILY. To take an example, what if it were the responsibility of the state to provide, merely for one week, meals for everyone in Buffalo, New York. The central planner would have to arrange eating places, make deals with farmers, set up computer data bases with information on people with special diets, etc. etc. An army of bureaucrats would have to be set in motion. In the end, it would be chaos. Yet, as it is, the matter is left to individual families and businesses. Each does the best it can, and the whole thing works.

The institution of private property by its nature protects the proper operatiob of society according to the principle of subsidiarity. Each person is careful of that which is his own and seeks to better his lot by using his own things to his best advantage, part of which is obtained by trading his own goods (improved by his labour) and services with others. This works out to the common good.


The state must have the means to accomplish its end. One such means is revenue, and this is ordinarily raised by taxation. Thus the state has the right to tax its citizens. This is not an unlimited right, however. The state has the right only to as much tax revenue as it needs, and if it asks for more, it is acting unjustly. It is unjust to impose too heavy a burden on the tax- payer, and to misuse public funds.


The devaluation of currency, or inflation, is another way known for centuries by which governments could pay their debts. Mediaeval economist-philosophers condemned such practices as immoral. Money is only useful if its value is stable. A government has a moral obligation to balance its books. Usually, the solution to government debt is to cut government spending. A writer in the 16th century suggests:

"It is not sufficient to prevent future enlargement of the royal court. We need to clean it up and purge it of its present excess of hangers-on. People may say that this is an extreme suggestion since the court supports so many people, but the disease has become so grave and so evident that we have no excuse not to employ the remedy." [Pedro Fernandez Navarrete, Chaplain and Secretary to the Spanish King, 1691 a.d., quoted in CHRISTIANS FOR FREEDOM, LATE SCHOLASTIC ECONOMICS)

In other words, cut down the size of the bureaucracy.


Usury meant charging interest on a loan, whereas now it means charging excessive interest. (USURA - the price for the use of a thing). During the middle ages, Usury, the charging of interest on money lent to another, was condemned. Aristotle and Thomas held that usury was wrong because the proper purpose of money was exchange, and it was unnatural to make an object out of money itself.

In their times, money was merely a medium of exchange. There were handicrafts, home industries, but no corporations or factories. One could not buy land, or invest, unless it was to buy things for the home. With the development of capitalism the function of money changed. Money can buy a share in a profitable venture, and so it represents a certain gain. If one lends money, one loses the profits that would be earned if it were invested elsewhere.

Another reason: in times of inflation money loses its value. If one lends money and the currency devalues then if the same literal amount is paid back, the lender has lost.


Justice is the second of the cardinal virtues. Prudence is the first because it brings man in his acts in to a relation with the real world. Justice is next because it affects others, and so it affects the common good. As ARISTOTLE said: For even though it be the case that the Good is the same for the individual and for the state, nevertheless, the good of the state is manifestly a greater and more perfect good, both to attain and to preserve."

The common good is that which is good not merely for an individual, but for society as a whole. Each society is united around some common good. The common good is primarily made of things which can be shared without being diminished, e.g. wisdom, knowledge, friendship among citizens. Justice is giving to each his own. "CUIQUE SUUM". The three kinds of justice are COMMUTATIVE - what one party owes to another; DISTRIBUTIVE - what society owes to one of its parts - what the legitimate authority distributes out of the public good; LEGAL - what the part owes to society as a whole.

As Thomas Aquinas stated: "A law which is contrary to the natural law is not a law at all but a perversion of law". How, then, is one to act with regard to unjust laws?

First of all, one should give the law the benefit of the doubt. You must presume that a law is just and therefore binding until it is definitely proved otherwise.

1/ It may be impossible to obey a law, i.e., obedience to a law might create an impossible burden. In such a case, if it is possible to obey part of the law, there exists an obligation to do what is possible.

2/ If a law commands what is contrary to the Natural law or the Divine Positive Law, then one is obliged to disregard that law. A example, in the Roman Empire there was a law requiring people to burn incense to Caesar. Many refused to offer an act of worship to Caesar, as they believed in one God.

3/ if the law unjustly deprives one of goods or rights one may resist. The degree of resistance is in proportion to the good or right.

Here the principle of double effect must be applied: any resistance to the law will create a disturbance in society, so if one feels an obligation to resist an unjust law, he must consider and weigh all the effects of his actions, the good against the bad.

DEMOCRATIC PROCEDURES: A democratic society allows one to take part in the political process. To the best of one's abilities, one should strive to have good laws passed and bad laws repealed. Taking part in the election of officials is one method, the other being the use of the press - the media - to affect public opinion.

PASSIVE RESISTANCE or NONVIOLENCE, and CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE:: this is the method developed by Mahatma Gandhi, and also used by Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. It has been adopted as well by groups in the pro-life movement. People offer no violent resistance to officers of the law who arrest them. They are willing to stand before judges and to go to jail rather than actively co-operate. The idea is that those who hold the moral position will by their persistence win over the oppressors who hold the immoral permission.

ARMED FORCE: Just as an individual may defend himself with force against another individual if his life or a good equivalent to life (Limbs and Faculties, Liberty, Chastity, Property of Great Worth), is threatened, so the people can defend themselves against unjust agression on the part of the state.

Aquinas: "As it is lawful to resist robbers, so it is lawful to resist princes" (STh II-II, 69, 4). Armed resistance may succeed in stopping the state from violating rights, but perhaps it does not.

If not, then there is the option of REBELLION:

1/ UNJUST REBELLION: the attempt to overthrow a legitimate government is unjust and is called SEDITION. Not every abuse of power justifies rebellion, or else no government in the world could stand. To oppose legitimate government is to oppose God, from whom all authority on earth proceeds.

2/ JUST REBELLION: A government ceases to be a government when it substantially ceases to govern the people with an eye to the common good. If a government is engaged solely in the self- interest of its officials, or if it becomes incapable of governing, it is no longer a legitimate government. Before resorting to rebellion, the followng conditions must be met:

2.1/ all other means have been tried;

2.2/ there must be reasonable hope that the rebellion will be successful;

2.3/ the judgement that the government is not fit to rule should be the judgement of the community as the whole (not just the opinion of a few).

In the case of a tyranny, the tyrant who is ruling in his own interest is the one committing an act of sedition. For example, a tyrant who seeks to divide his people against each other so that he may rule all the easier with less risk of rebellion is sacrificing the common good to his own personal interests.






Thomas' Aquinas definition of law (in general): "AN ORDINATION OF RIGHT REASON TOWARD THE COMMON GOOD, PROMULGATED BY HIM WHO HAS CARE OF THE COMMUNITY." (Summa Theologica, I-II, 90, 4) analysis:


A/ A directive coming from the mind of the legislator;

B/ a command to obey this directive issuing from the will of the legislator - the lawmaker.

Both a law and a counsel should proceed from reason, but a law creates an obligation (you are obliged by law to heed the speed limit), but a counsel does not (you are not obliged by law to give up smoking, even thoughthe surgeon general and other authorities urge you to do so.)

TOWARD THE COMMON GOOD: the end of law is the good of a perfect community. This is a good which is for many people. It is obtained by the effort of many people. It is shared by many people. Example, the good of the speed limit is safety for meny people. It is obtained by the actions of many citizens, not merely the occasional citizen.

PROMULGATED: The law must be set forth in such a way that it comes to the knowledge of the persons who are bound by it. As soon as it is promulgated (proclaimed by authority) it becomes binding.

BY HIM WHO HAS CARE OF THE COMMUNITY: The creation and maintenance of order belongs either to the people as a whole, or to some one person who represents the whole peple. So, either the act of framing a law belongs to the whole people, or to a public person who is entrusted with the care of the people. (This is found in Aquinas, S-Th, q. 90, a.4 - this is in part an expression of the POPULAR CONSENT THEORY of the state.)


The ETERNAL LAW is the mind of God as He commands that the natural order of the universe be observed, and that this order not be disturbed. This includes all the laws of physics, the physical events of the universe. Nature obeys the ETERNAL LAW without choice. How can the ETERNAL LAW be ETERNAL if the universe started in time? God, on account of his omniscience, knows his creation from eternity, since with Him there is no before or after, and neither is there before and after with respect to His knowledge is this knowledge exists within him. So, even though I am not eternal, His knowledge of me is from eternity.


1/ AN ORDINATION OF RIGHT REASON - the ultimate reason in the universe, and the source of the intelligibility of things;

2/ TOWARD THE COMMON GOOD - the laws of nature contribute to the order of the universe as a whole;

3/ PROMULGATED: as for non-rational creatures, the ETERNAL LAW is simply their nature, which they follow; man, on the other hand, must know and choose to obey the ETERNAL LAW, either through understanding his nature, which is the NATURAL LAW, or through the will of God expressed in REVELATION.

4/ BY HIM WHO HAS CARE OF THE COMMUNITY: God by virtue of What and Who He is, has care of all creatures.

THE NATURAL LAW: The natural law is discovered by man himself. It consists of practical universal judgements - practical - do this and don't do that specific thing; universal - the judgements are stated as general rules.

These judgements express rules of human conduct which are necessary and obligatory, and which have been established by God. They are promulgated exclusively through the human reason. They are essential to God's purpose in the universe.

Man is not born with instincts that infallibly guide him to what is good for him. He cannot do what is moral only on the basis of feelings. Some philosophers have claimed this. The phenomenologists, notably Max Scheler, have tried to base ethics not on what is truly good and has being, but on a feeling of moral good and moral evil. That is because phenomonologists have no confidence in man's ability to have objective knowledge of real world. If ethics is based on a feeling, and there is no METAPHYSICAL basic for ethics, then the morality of the psychopath is just as valid as the morality of the saint. The psychopath, after all, does not feel moral evil in what he does, he has no feeling of despondency and angst associated with evil deeds, even though his reason tells him he shouldn't do the thing.

All the rules of conduct ultimately relate to man's activity in relation to his last end. Does a man's actions help him or hinder him in reaching the last end? When man understands this he is understanding the natural law.

There are three levels of natural law:

1/ PRIMARY PRINCIPLE: Do good and avoid evil - this is based on man's primary understanding of being. With every sense experience, man understands a being, and he understands what the word "IS" means, what it is "TO BE". He understands that existence is the primary good, and so in action, the first principle is "DO GOOD AND AVOID EVIL." Everyone understands this, even if they cannot put it into words.

2/ SECONDARY PRINCIPLES: these are the more obvious principles, which man discovers easily by thinking and reflecting on his own human nature. Any one with adequately developed reason knows the secondary principles. This excludes the retarded, and people who have been prevented from learning these principles due to strong outside influences (upbringing, culture, propaganda)

3/ TERTIARY PRINCIPLES: These are more difficult to know. As in the case of slavery, or the obligation to pay a decent wage which will support the worker and his family, it has taken centuries for men to agree on these. Since human nature is the same, then natural law is the same in itself, but our knowledge of it changes over time. Each man cannot be left merely to himself to figure out right and wrong - that would be chaos, and too difficult. So we have the POSITIVE LAW: The POSITIVE LAW is two-fold:

1/declarative: laws which declare explicitly that which the natural law obliges us to do.

2/determinative: laws which specify the means to the ends required by the natural law. The means themselves may vary, and are up to the will of the law-maker.


Granted that the state, according to its functions, may be divided into the LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE and JUDICIAL, Laws are made by the various branches of government.

1/ The LEGISLATIVE branch carries out lawmaking in making STATUE LAW.

2/ Judges help define law when they decide in particular cases how the law is to be applied, adding to the body of precedents.

3/ The executive branch makes law in the form of administrative rulings. For example, in the United States of (the Southern Part of North) America, the president as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces can make decisions which have the force of law.

When the CIVIL LAW declares the NATURAL LAW, it binds our consciences to obey it. Also, when the CIVIL LAW determines some thing which is not specified by the NATURAL LAW, it may also bind our consciences.

So, even when we disagree with the prudence of a law, when we think that the law is not setting forth the best means to an end, we are still obliged to obey the law.


1/ PROCEEDS FROM LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY - e.g. the US Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in Canada, and cannot authorize kidnapping for purposes of deportation.

2/ JUSTICE - not contradicting the natural law: e.g. a law forbidding inheritance would be invalid, a law outlawing the Mass or synagogue prayers would be invalid.

3/ POSSIBLE - the law cannot lay an impossible burden upon the people. AD IMPOSSIBILE NEMO TENETUR.

4/ PROPERLY PROMULGATED - how laws become laws is itself established by laws and constitutions. Once a law is passed, it is binding.

* * *


CIVIL LAWS are divided into:

1/ PRECEPTIVE LAWS: which bind us in conscience to observe them.

1.1 these declare and confirm the natural law;

1.2 create or dissolve duties of commutative justice

1.3 immediately promote the common good

2/ PENAL LAWS: which do not bind us in conscience to observe them.

A Penal law is a law which does not bind you in conscience, but if you break it, and are caught, you must in conscience pay the penalty (hence the termal "penal"). You would not be onligated to turn yourself in if you broke a purely penal law:

2.1. the law is not concerned with something directly or intrinsically moral or immoral;

2.2. good citizens do not consider it binding

2.3. Among legal experts, the prevailing theory of law supports the idea of penal laws

2.4. Laws which require many technicalities for an act to be valid are merely penal.

2.5. There is a big disproportion between the offense and the penalty.


Sanctions provide a motive for obeying laws. There is a reward for keeping laws and a penalty for breaking them.


The state exists to maintain justice, and therefore to prevent and punish crime. The state receives its authority from God, and so it also has the authority to use the means necessary to attain its end. Punishment in general may have several motives:

1/correction or rehabilitation: this obviously does not apply to Capital Punishment, unless it brings a man back to his senses before he meets God, but that is not guaranteed

2/ deterrence: capital punishment may deter others

3/ retribution: retribution pays the criminal back for his crime - re-establishes the balance of justice, and asserts the authority of the law-giver.

The state has the right to capital punishment, but it may choose not to exercise it. If crime can be handled effectively without capital punishment, then it should not be applied.


States have rights and duties towards one another:

1. Independence: No state has the right to destroy the independent existence of another state without just cause. Unlike a human person, however, the state may elect freely to dissolve or to merge with some other state.

2. Entirety: the state has a right to all of its territory.

3. Property: The state is a juridical person, a person under the law, nad so it has claim to property.

4. Colonization: A state may colonize unoccupied lands or sparsely populated lands if no political organization exists on them. If there are scattered settlements of primitive people, then those people have a claim to the land they dwell upon and surrounding land, but not to vast tracts of unoccupied land.

5. Free Action: The state may adopt the form it chooses, establish its own tariffs as it sees fit, etc. The state may enter into just treaties with other states.






The state has a right to defend itself, just as the individual has a right to defend itself. If the state did not have such a right of self-defense, then it would be faced with its own extinction as a state. But the state has a good reason for existence: the common good of the citizens. War may be divided into:

1/ DEFENSIVE WAR: the purpose being to protect the state against imminent or actual agression. A war may still be defensive, weven if its defense assumes the appearance of attack. The moral certitude of the enemy's intentions is sufficient, as in a pre- emptive defensive strike.

2/ AGRESSIVE WAR or AGRESSIVE WAR is waged by the nation that PROVOKES the violence.

Only a defensive war is a just war. In every conflict, at least one of the parties is unjust, though all may be.




JUS AD BELLUM = the right to engage in a war, is covered under the first three conditions.

1/ LAWFUL AUTHORITY: Declared by Legitimate Authority:

War cannot be declared by a private person.

The War must be declared by those who have legitimate authority. In a democracy, for example, it should be presented to the respresentatives of the people.

Only the person or body designated in the constitution of a state may declare war legitimately.

In a purely defensive war, if the country is being overrun, there is no need for menn to wait to be inducted into the armed forces - the authority to wage war with the enemy may be presumed.

Guerilla warfare is

1/ unjust if it is not authorized by lawful authority;

2/ guerilla tactics may be employed in a war declared by a legitimate authority, especially in areas which are occupied by the enemy.

3/ If the government surrenders to the enemy, then the power of the state may be presumed to revert to the people. Underground resistance movements may continue to struggle with the backing of the people. If, however, the people withdraw their support, then the guerilla fighters become outlaws.

Those who fight for the state must remain under the command of the legitimate authorities. A citizen who kills enemy combatants without authorization is not a soldier but an assassin.

2/ JUST CAUSE: The War is Morally Justified.

Four conditions which may justify a war:


PRIMARILY - the violation of the nation's strict rights

3.1.1. Defense against agression

3.1.2. Correction of an injustice which the legitimate authorities have left uncorrected.

3.1.3. Re-establishment of a social order which will distribute justice.

3.1.4. Undertaken with the intention of bringing about peace.

2.2/ SUFFICENT PROPORTION: Resistance is allowable as soo as the agressive intent becomes morally certain.


Every other means of resolving the situation have proven to be futile; if time permits, all other means should be tried before resorting to military force, starting from the most peaceful means.



The onus is on the ruler or legitimate authorities since they have the facts. The soldier will presume without guilt that his nation's cause is just, unless it is plainly evident that the war his nation is waging is unjust.

A soldier actually in the armed forces at the outbreak of war, or those who are conscripted into the armed forces do not have a strong obligation to question the justice of the war, but those who would volunteer for military service in time of war have a greater responsibility to find out whether it is a just war or not.


In any human act, we distinguish:

1/ the moral object (what the act is aimed at, leaving other factors out of consideration;

2/ the situation;

3/ the motive.

Now, the state may be fighting a war which has just cause, but for the wrong reasons, i.e. doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. To do so is wrong.

So it may happen that although the war may be waged in legitimate defense, nevertheless people declare war or take part in it for such motives as a desire to do harm, to wreak cruel revenge, the desire to dominate, in order to break out of the bonds of civilized society and act as wild men, etc. etc. These motives are wrong.

3.1/ PUNITIVE WAR:intended to punish those responsible for unjust agression. The punitive war is intended to go beyond merely regaining what has been lost, but also seeks to dispense justice.

3.2/ The Rulers are especially to be held to account if their motives for waging war were unjust.

3.3/ The soldier who is a cambatant in a just war, who nevertheless kills out of hatred and cruelty, is to be held to account.

To punish pickpockets in civil society, but leave war crimes unpunished is to undermine justice, to create a travesty of justice. It is traditionally thought that the leader of the just party has the right to stand in judgement over the unjust agressor, and so may exact a penalty if he wins.


JUS IN BELLO = the right to undertake particular military actions within the course of a war.

1/ the principle of proportionality:

"The quantity of force employed or threatened must always be morally proportionate to the end being sought in war." (Phillips 12)

2/ the principle of discrimination:

Force can never be used in a way that will make noncombatants and the innocent the intentional military targets of an operation. (Phillips 29)

3/ the principle of double effect:

3.1. The initial voluntary act must be good, or at least morally evil.

3.2. The evil effect must not be intended

3.3. The good effect must outweigh the evil effect.

3.4. The evil effect cannot be the cause of the good effect, but must either occur simultaneously, or afterwards.



1.1. If the enemy's ability to wage war can be effectively destroyed without any killing, then there is no excuse for bloodshed.

1.2. DIRECT KILLING - it cannot be denied that in war certain actions are directly intended to bring about the death of the enemy. The principle of double effect is not always applicable. The effective agent of an unjust government is an unjust agressor - and his life is forfeit until he is no longer an effect agent - that is, until he is disarmed.

2/ RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE: Granted that the state can perform capital punishment, the injured state can execute mass-murderers who are caught in the act. Retributive justice is not, however, applicable to enemy soldiers who are serving their country in good faith.

3/ PRISONERS AND SPIES: Since most soldiers are conscripted (drafted), the assumption must be that they are not fighting with evil intent. Therefore, though prisoners of war should be removed from the opportunity of doing harm, they should be treated decently, and not punitively. International treaties, such as the Geneva Convention, require proper treatment of prisoners of war.

The natural law alone does not require that prisoners be taken in combat, but this is a generally recognized convention.

Spies, on the other hand, if caught must pay. If the enemy is waging an unjust war, the willing and knowledgeable action of the spy, as an agent of the unjust agressor, is presumed.

International agreements do not accord the same treatment to spies as it does to prisoners of war. Spying, per se, is a stratagem of war, and as such it is not wrong, but often it is done by immoral means.


Generally, the NON-COMBATANT is innocent.

The COMBATANT is OBJECTIVELY GUILTY. He is presumed to be an unjst agressor on the battlefield. It is impossible in the heat of battle to ponder on the subjective guilt of enemy combatants- whether or not they knew what they were doing. Combatants include those belonging to the armed forces, and all those who proximately and actively are cooperating in the war effort, e.g. munitions workers.


A total war is a war in which no distinction is made between combatants and non-combatants. If, however, a nation finds itself drawn by an agressor into a total war, then it may ahve to respond in kind.


Indiscriminate bombing of non-military objectives is wrong.


Atomic weapons do not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants, between military and non-military targets. Extreme circumstances only can justify their use:

1/ if the enemy has adopted TOTAL WAR then it may be necessary to respond in kind. But the principle of DISCRIMINATION must still be applied as well as possible.

2/ if a military target is very extensive.

3/ if a military target is very important, e.g. a factory for constructing atomic weapons.

4/ there is only one opportunity to get at the target.

However, even when the immediate destructive power of an atomic weapon can be restricted to a military target, there is still fallout, i.e. radioactive dust that can drift and fall over large areas, and which is harmful to living things. There are also other possible effects (nuclear winter, etc.)