Moral judgments can refer to moral evaluations—made, as it were, from the outside—either of others’ actions or of one’s own past actions. Such evaluations often should be avoided; when called for, they should be subordinated to judgments that can guide prospective choices and actions, not least choices to repent one’s sins and admonish others about their apparent sins (see LCL, 202–8, 216–39). This appendix considers moral judgments of another sort: those to be made from the inside, as it were, by people who are deliberating with a view to choosing, conscientious people who wish to find out what they should do and to do it. This perspective—that of the conscientious person deliberating—should be adopted by a moral adviser asked questions like those in this book. He or she should try to help each questioner reflect soundly and find the truth about what to do.
This appendix deals with several closely related topics: the genesis and structure of human acts, the principles of moral norms and their application to options considered in deliberation, the examination and improvement of emotional motives, and the process of discernment. These matters were treated in The Way of the Lord Jesus, volume one, Christian Moral Principles (especially in chapters two through ten), and in chapter five of volume two, Living a Christian Life. For the most part, I shall presuppose and merely summarize those earlier treatments. But I shall amend and add to my previous account of the Golden Rule, which requires putting oneself in others’ places—for example: “What would I want other drivers to do if I were trying to merge into this traffic stream?” I shall explain how a conscientious person tries by this imaginative exercise and three other, somewhat similar ones to educate his or her feelings so that they will support rather than impede a reasonable judgment about what to choose and do.
My intention is to help readers recall or gather from the earlier volumes the elements provided there of accounts of the genesis of human acts and the making of moral judgments, and to see how those elements are complemented by additional considerations about the role of feelings in human actions and ways of bringing feelings into harmony with reason so as to constitute a more adequate account of human acts and moral judgments. I hope readers with a theoretical interest in these matters will find that the proposed responses to questions in this volume illuminate, by exemplifying, the elements of the treatment offered here and that it, in turn, will clarify the reasoning in the proposed responses.438
The human acts on which moral judgments bear involve free choices and their execution. One can understand such acts by tracing their genesis, and one can better understand that genesis by comparing and contrasting it with the simpler genesis of the behavior of higher animals and small children. Behavior here refers, not to organic functions, reflexes, or random movements, but to the purposeful movements of an organism as a whole or its parts. Such movements presuppose the individual’s awareness of inner states and/or environmental conditions, and are suited to facilitate survival and functioning. That adaptation is partly unlearned—“instinctive”—and partly due to past experience, memory, and imagination. But the genesis of behavior involves more than an awareness of existing conditions and the availability of a pattern for responding to them. It also involves a tendency—sometimes called “a motive” or “a drive”—to respond according to that pattern.
Because tendencies to respond sometimes make themselves felt by causing characteristic bodily changes, they also are called “feelings” or “emotions,” words that aptly refer to experienced phenomena. Nevertheless, if behavior is flowing smoothly, tendencies to respond usually remain unconscious. So, I shall use emotions and feelings to refer to the tendencies themselves considered as principles of behavior that may or may not also make themselves felt.
Emotions or feelings can be divided into four general sorts: (1) to engage positively with something in the environment, (2) to engage destructively with something in the environment, (3) to avoid engagement with something in the environment, and (4) to avoid stimulation in general. As experienced emotions or feelings, these tendencies are: (1) desire, enjoyment; (2) hatred, anger; (3) disgust, fear; and (4) languor, quiescence. The fourth sort of tendency generally is overlooked because it leads to withdrawal from situations that arouse the other tendencies; yet the behavior involved in letting down and preparing to rest or sleep is a distinctive sort of purposeful movement requiring motivation no less than the others do.439
A rabbit feels hungry, remembers a nearby garden, desires to eat the tender greens, and heads toward the garden; a two-year-old child feels hungry, remembers the cookie jar on the kitchen counter, wants to eat cookies, and begins trying to climb to the counter top. Both may achieve their goals and eat until satisfied—that is, until eating ceases to be enjoyable. Or the rabbit may see a dog, be frightened, and run back to its hole, still hungry but with its desire to eat overridden by fear; and the child may find cookies in the jar, eat one, feel tired, and curl up in the corner of the counter to sleep, still hungry but with the desire to eat overcome by languor.
Though their genesis is the same, however, animal behavior always is patterned solely by instinct and experience, while some instances of children’s behavior soon manifest human intelligence. As infants learn to talk, they use language as a means of pursuing their goals, not least by putting their feelings into words. Before long, small children become manipulative: cajoling and threatening in order to get what they want. Moreover, they not only learn to use tools that are at hand but creatively solve problems. Still, as long as human behavior is determined by feelings and directed toward goals that are nothing more than imaginable states of affairs, intelligence plays only an instrumental role: Reason serves the passions. In this servile relationship, the goals of the master (passions) are not intelligible, and any intelligible goods the servant (reason) has in view are not ends in themselves but instrumental—for example, influence with those who can provide what one wants.
However, human reason is not limited to finding ways of attaining the goals of feelings that arise prior to and independent of the workings of intelligence itself. Children begin to play in a characteristically human way. They set objectives for themselves, strive to achieve them, and find not only emotional satisfaction but self-fulfillment in doing so. For example, having come to understand what it is to know, children go beyond asking questions out of spontaneous curiosity and start trying to figure things out. Beginning to appreciate familial bonds and friendship, children come to see the point in sharing what they have with others and in giving gifts.
Without emotional motivation to do something, nothing comes to mind as a possible action. So, an emotional motive and its goal remain necessary conditions for each such specifically human action. However, the genesis of human actions is more complex than that of behavior in which intelligence plays a merely instrumental role. Normal children of, say, six or seven begin to understand the goods that are aspects of the being and flourishing of persons, themselves and others—aspects to be pursued and/or safeguarded. While such goods can be viewed as means to one another, they are not essentially instrumental; being of themselves aspects of human fulfillment, they are basic goods.440 Understanding basic goods and being aware of themselves, and of other humans as persons like themselves, people can look beyond the goals of feelings and generally can see the attainment of those goals as contributing to the fulfillment of persons. By acting for basic goods, they can seek to benefit both themselves and others as living wholes (see CMP, 115–20).
The more complex genesis of specifically human action involves an interplay between emotional motives and reasons for acting grounded in intelligible goods. Thus, though people need some emotional motivation if they are to eat at all and can eat simply on that basis, without a reason to eat and even despite a reason not to, a person’s purpose in eating can include not only the goal of eating until satisfied but a reason: an anticipated benefit in terms of, say, health. With such an anticipated benefit in view, one can use imagination to elicit the desire for a goal—for instance, lessening the chances of having a heart attack—and eat something less appetizing than an available alternative and/or even limit eating despite the desire to eat more.
Insofar as basic goods are understood as possible reasons for acting and not acting, behavior that might be motivated by feelings not only can be overridden by other feelings—including the feelings aroused by a parent’s “No, no”—but can be inhibited by a reason. This inhibiting of emotional motivation by reasons manifests another kind of motivation, that of the “will”—a person’s capacity as a self-conscious subject to shape his or her life as a whole. Will is awakened by the understanding of basic goods, so that a person is alive to the various aspects of possible human fulfillment and can be concerned about or interested in basic goods insofar as possible actions might affect them (see CMP, 231–33). In normal adults, such rational concern generally is in play, at least in virtue of previous will acts; but if it is not, emotion determines adults’ behavior as it does that of small children. Still, when one is interested in a basic good, the stronger emotion does not always prevail. Moreover, one generally can manipulate emotions by using imagination and focusing attention on one thing or another. Thus, as self-conscious subjects, people can determine themselves and act on reasons with a view to their own and/or others’ fulfillment.
Such self-determination resolves indeterminacy between alternative possibilities: acting in this or that way, or, at least, acting or not acting. So, it occurs in and by choices. And since choices are self-determinations rather than determinations one undergoes—for instance, as a result of spontaneous feelings—one makes them with the awareness that one need not. Thus, though various conditions outside one’s control must be satisfied for choice to be possible, the choice itself—to do this rather than that, to act rather than not—is not caused by any such condition. One freely makes one’s choices.441
Like acts of intellectual knowing, choices are spiritual entities, not events or processes in the natural world, and they must be distinguished from the behavior that carries them out. Outward performances come and go. Choices remain as determinations of oneself unless and until one makes an incompatible choice (see CMP, 50–52). Some large choices bear on acts that can be carried out only by making and carrying out many smaller choices (see CMP, 54–55). Among these large choices are commitments—choices to cooperate with a particular person or group in pursuing a common good (see CMP, 236–38). The choice to accept Christian faith is a commitment that ought to organize a Christian’s entire life.442
Since no action or set of actions within one’s power can ever fully safeguard or realize a basic good such as life and health, one chooses to act for an anticipated benefit, not with an expectation of definitively achieving or exhausting the good, but with a hope only of participating in it and/or contributing to its instantiation in others. So, particular acts or projects chosen for the sake of a basic good—for example, hygienic eating on a particular occasion or dieting to lose weight—instantiate that good somewhat as individuals of a natural kind instantiate a species. Still, as possible (and to some extent actual) aspects of real human persons’ fulfillment, basic goods are more than mere logical entities; they can give meaning to individuals’ lives and be common goods for whose sake people join in communities. Rather than either living routine and episodic lives by pursuing goals as regularly recurring but transient feelings dictate or else living lives planned to maximize the satisfaction of some set of wants, people can organize their lives by commitments to basic goods. And since these goods pertain to human fulfillment as such rather than to needs peculiar to individuals under given conditions, groups of people can organize a more or less extensive and open-ended common life by mutual commitments to one another bearing on the same good or set of goods.
Being aspects of the fulfillment of persons, the basic human goods correspond to the inherent complexities of human nature, as it is manifested both in individuals and in various forms of community. The following eight categories can be distinguished.443
(1) As animate, human persons are organic substances. Life itself, bodily integrity, health, and safety make up one category of basic good.
(2) As rational, human persons can know reality and appreciate beauty and whatever intensely engages their capacities to know and feel. Knowledge and esthetic experience make up another category of basic good.
(3) As simultaneously rational and animal, human persons can transform the natural world by using realities, beginning with their own bodily selves, to express meanings and serve purposes. Such linguistic, cultural, and technical creativity can be realized in diverse degrees. Its realization for its own sake is another category of basic good: some degree of excellence in work and play.
The preceding categories of goods I call “substantive.” Although the substantive goods provide reasons for acting, their instantiations, even when brought about in carrying out actions chosen to instantiate them, do not involve choices. Life, knowledge, and skilled performance are basic goods just insofar as they can be understood as humanly fulfilling and, being so understood, can be chosen, cherished, enhanced, and handed on to others.
Another dimension of human persons is that they are agents through deliberation and choice, who can strive to avoid or overcome various forms of personal and interpersonal conflict—or, to put the matter positively, who can strive to foster harmony. So, certain forms of harmony are among the basic goods, and their instantiations include the choices by which one acts for them. So, I call them “reflexive” (or “existential”) goods.
(4) Most obvious among the reflexive goods are various forms of harmony between and among individuals and groups of persons—living at peace with others, justice, neighborliness, friendship.
(5) Within individuals and their personal lives, a similar good can be realized. For feelings can conflict among themselves and also can be at odds with one’s judgments and choices. The corresponding good is harmony opposed to such inner conflict—the inner peace of a morally mature and well-integrated person.
(6) One’s choices also can conflict with one’s judgments, and one’s behavior can fail to express one’s inner self. The corresponding good is harmony among one’s judgments, choices, and performances—practical reasonableness and consistency between one’s self and its expression.
(7) Then too, people experience tension with the very source and end of their reality—tension explained by faith as alienation from God due to sin. Attempts to overcome sin and gain peace with God are the concern of religion. Thus, another category of reflexive good is the reconciliation and friendship with God that religion seeks.
(8) Finally, human persons are sexually differentiated and capable of a unique form of communion, marriage, which normally includes handing on, insofar as possible, not only bodily life but all the basic human goods. So, marriage, including its fulfillment by parenthood, is another basic good. It is a reflexive good inasmuch as the self-giving of mutual consent is included in each of its instantiations. But unlike the other reflexive goods, the interpersonal communion of marriage also is a bodily good: unity in one flesh, which is actualized by sexual intercourse and further fulfilled by family life.
In making a choice, one generally chooses to do something.444 One’s specifically human action is the unified whole: the choice and its execution. Before choosing, individuals deliberate about options they consider possible and interesting—I could do this or that—much as a deliberative body debates options proposed in members’ motions. A choice to do something adopts a proposal just as a group’s vote does, and in both cases carrying out what is decided completes the action (see CMP, 233–34).
Since the execution of the choice is proposed by the acting person (the “agent”), that state of affairs is the immediate goal (“proximate end”) of his or her choosing. The agent’s purpose in adopting the proposal also is an end—the good hoped for in making the choice (the agent’s “end in view.”)445 In choosing to do the action, the agent determines himself or herself in respect to both that end in view and the proximate end, and so can be said to intend them both. But intend also can be contrasted with choose and used to refer exclusively to the willing of ends in view. In that case, the execution of the choice will be thought of, not as the proximate end of choosing, but as a means of pursuing the end one has in view.
As I said above, choices, like acts of intellectual knowing, are spiritual entities. As intellectual knowing is reflexive—one knows oneself knowing—so also is choosing. In choosing anything, not only does one realize that only one’s choice will settle the indeterminacy, but one also chooses to choose what one chooses. The choosing itself is intended—not, indeed, as a separate proximate end or additional end in view, but still as distinct from them, just as in knowing any truth, one knows oneself as knower of the truth one knows.
Is the end in view really distinct from the proximate end of the choice?
Sometimes the reason for making a choice is a good instantiated in its very execution—for example, someone who plays golf as recreation and for exercise not only desires to play and enjoys playing but hopes to benefit as a skillful golfer and healthy person in and by the playing itself. In such cases, the agent’s end in view in making the choice coincides with the proximate end of making it, namely, its execution.
Sometimes, though, the reason for making a choice is a good instantiated in a state of affairs distinct from its execution but caused by it—for example, a father gives his daughter medicine to clear up an infection. In such cases, the proximate end of the choice (treating the infection) and the end in view (the girl’s recovery of health) do not coincide. Still, the father may be emotionally motivated not only by anxiety about his daughter’s health but by a paternal desire simply to care for her. But sometimes when the agent’s end in view does not coincide with the proximate end of the choice, what the agent chooses to do has in itself no emotional appeal and is even strongly repugnant—for example, a woman very reluctantly chooses abortion in order to avoid the burdens of pregnancy and of either raising a child or giving the baby up for adoption. Even in such cases, though, people’s choices have a self-determining character—that is, they determine the choosers, not only in respect to the benefits hoped for (the ends in view) but in respect to what is done to carry out the choices (the proximate ends of the choices) (see CMP, 234–36; LCL, 468–69).
However, agents do not do everything that results from their actions. Whenever carrying out a choice involves outward behavior, that behavior has effects neither included in the agent’s proposal nor in his or her end in view. For example, listening to recorded music may disturb neighbors; taking medication for an allergy may cause drowsiness; refusing to deny one’s faith may lead to being killed. Sometimes, such effects are not foreseen by the agent; but even if they are, they are not part of his or her action. Rather, they are side effects of the action. Since the foreseen side effects of carrying out a choice could be avoided by not making it, the agent freely accepts them in making the choice and permits them in carrying it out. So, agents bear some responsibility for their actions’ side effects, and that responsibility is easily confused with their responsibility for choices they reluctantly make. However, since side effects are neither chosen nor intended as part of any end in view, agents do not determine themselves in respect to them as they do with respect to anything they choose, however reluctantly (see CMP, 239–41; LCL, 470–71).446
Sensory cognition and emotions, practical reason and will, are coprinciples of specifically human acts. Though agents usually do not become aware of emotional motivation, without it no conceivable course of action could be imagined as a real option and carried out (see CMP, 190). Moreover, many instantiations of each of the basic goods are emotionally appealing, and their emotional appeal complements the will’s aliveness to the goods, which corresponds to practical intellect’s grasp of them as aspects of human fulfillment to be pursued and safeguarded.
Still, reason and feelings often seem opposed. There are at least two explanations for that. First, when one has a reason for acting contrary to feelings and chooses to act on it, one may not notice the feelings that support doing so; thus one may forget that feelings conflict with one another and overlook the fact that reason and choice mediate conflicts that otherwise would be settled by the sheer force of the more powerful emotion. Second, when strong feelings press a person to act contrary to a reason for acting to which he or she is committed, the feelings allied with the commitment are taken for granted and not noticed, and emotion is experienced as an alien force threatening to overwhelm the self-conscious, self-determined subject and agent, so that the coprinciples of action seem radically opposed (see CMP, 190–91; cf. Rom 7.14–25).
There are many inadequate and more or less mistaken accounts of moral principles (see CMP, 97–113). An adequate account shows them to be the truths underlying sound moral judgments—judgments that direct people’s choices and actions toward true human fulfillment. According to such an account, the starting point of all practical reflection is that the intelligibly good is to be done and pursued, and the bad is to be avoided (see CMP, 178–80). This first principle is embodied in the understanding of each of the basic goods—such and such a basic human good (for instance, justice) is to be done and/or pursued, protected, promoted (see CMP, 180–83).
An account along these lines, grounding moral judgments in the goods that are aspects of human fulfillment, is accepted by almost all contemporary Catholic moral theologians. But many of them have combined it with a theory called “proportionalism,” according to which sound moral judgments provide direction toward human fulfillment by identifying, from among the actions one could choose in a given situation, the possibility that promises the best proportion of measurable benefits and harms for the people involved. Proportionalism is plausible, not least because it seems obvious that settling for less than the best proportion between benefits and harms hardly would be reasonable. But despite its plausibility, proportionalism is unworkable.447
One never can tell which prospective choice and action will bring about the best proportion of benefits to harms and contribute most to people’s overall fulfillment. Moral truth guides choices in a different way toward human fulfillment as a whole. Feelings often would lead one to focus exclusively on promoting one aspect or only some aspects of human fulfillment in one or only some people. And though the basic human goods are aspects of the fulfillment of every human individual and community, reflection impeded by feelings can leave some persons out of account or even treat them as if they were not persons, employ practical principles selectively, and ignore their unwelcome implications. One reasons rightly and is fully reasonable in choosing if, but only if, the judgment that shapes one’s choice takes into account all the directiveness of all the principles of practical reasoning. Now, one who reasons rightly about what is to be done makes correct moral judgments. So, the first principle of morality can be formulated: In voluntarily acting for human goods and avoiding what is opposed to them, one ought to choose and otherwise will those and only those possibilities whose willing is compatible with a will toward integral human fulfillment.448
Integral human fulfillment refers to an ideal: a rich and ongoing sharing in all the basic human goods by all individuals and limited communities in an entirely harmonious community open to all human beings (see CMP, 186). While that ideal is a standard for good will, it is not a goal for human effort; without faith, one cannot even know whether it can be realized. However, God promises to realize it as part of his heavenly kingdom (see CMP, 461–64). In the light of faith, then, integral human fulfillment is seen as part of the fulfillment of all things in Christ (see CMP, 461–64, 814–16). And since one who consistently sought the kingdom first of all would love as Jesus does and thereby fulfill the entire law, within the context of the new covenant Jesus’ new love commandment is also a way of articulating the first principle of morality (see CMP, 603–6).
Still, people wonder: What does love really require? The first principle of morality is so general that by itself it provides no practical guidance. More specific principles are required, with a clear bearing on the sorts of willing involved in various kinds of actions. I call these more specific principles “modes of responsibility,” because they shape willing in view of the moral responsibility inherent in it. Thus, modes of responsibility specify the first principle of morality by excluding as immoral the kinds of actions that involve various ways of willing inconsistent with a will toward integral human fulfillment (see CMP, 189–92).
While the primary principle of morality articulates what is meant by right reason, the modes of responsibility exclude specific ways of acting unreasonably. But one’s concrete sentient self is part of one’s whole self; so, one can rightly satisfy the urgings of feelings when their particular goals are included within some intelligible good, and that good, in turn, is chosen compatibly with integral human fulfillment. Still, one also can follow feelings against reason. Modes of responsibility exclude the various ways in which that can happen.449
(1) While anger and hatred can motivate actions for which there are reasons (that is, actions that will promote intelligible goods or deal rightly with evils contrary to them), hostile feelings often lead people to accept, or even to choose, the destruction, damaging, or impeding of an intelligible good—to act without hope of benefiting anyone and instead expecting, even hoping, to injure others or, perhaps, themselves. The willing involved in such destructive actions plainly is inconsistent with a will toward integral human fulfillment—with loving one’s neighbor as oneself (see CMP, 215–16).
(2) One may have a reason to do something—the possible action would serve some intelligible good in oneself or another, and one may even have committed oneself to doing it. Yet one is deterred by languor and/or vague fears—mere feelings not allied with a reason, such as a real need for rest and recreation, or a real concern about some threat of harm. In such cases, the willing involved in putting off or evading the possible action is incompatible with willing the aspect of human fulfillment that grounded the reason for doing the action, and so one violates the first principle of morality (see CMP, 205–6, 210–11).
(3) People often experience desires or fears, have some reason for resisting them, and have no reason for acting in accord with them—no hope that doing so will benefit themselves or anyone else. Of course, in such situations, people often call the feeling “a reason” or rationalize that acting on the feeling will at least end the tension temptation is causing. However, the choice to give in is incompatible with willing the aspect of human fulfillment that grounded the reason for resisting, and so, once more, against the first moral principle (see CMP, 208–11).
(4) However difficult it may be to put the preceding modes of responsibility into practice, they are theoretically simple. In all of them the tension is between a reason and its associated emotional motivation, on the one hand, and, on the other, feelings dissociated from any reason. More complex, even theoretically, are kinds of cases in which the tension is between options both of which involve reasons but only one of which can be willed compatibly with the first principle of morality.
The starting point of all practical reasoning—good is to be done and pursued, evil is to be avoided—generally forestalls thoughts of choosing to destroy, damage, or impede an instance of an intelligible good. But such thoughts arise not only when hostile feelings are in play—the kind of situation referred to in (1) above—but when destroying, damaging, or impeding an instance of an intelligible good seems necessary as a means to prevent some other intelligible evil or to achieve some intelligible good. In such situations, sometimes called “conflict cases,” does the first principle of morality call for a choice not to do the evil or a choice to do it?
Though choosing not to do the evil would mean allowing the other evil to come about or letting the prospective good remain unachieved, choosing to do the evil would be determining oneself against a basic good. And though allowing the other evil to come about or letting the prospective good go unachieved would not respond to them as reasons for acting, neither would it negate them, whereas determining oneself against a basic good would negate its rational appeal. Moreover, since intelligible goods are aspects of the being and flourishing of persons, choosing not to do the evil would only mean accepting that some person or persons were injured or did not enjoy a benefit, while choosing to do the evil would mean deliberately acting contrary to the good of some person or persons. Thus, considering conflict cases in general, anyone who accepts the preceding accounts of human action and moral principles will see that the choice not to do the evil is in accord with the first principle of morality while the choice to do it is incompatible with a will toward integral human fulfillment—with loving as Jesus loves (see CMP, 216–22).
Of course, proportionalists argue that when someone has a proportionate reason for choosing to do evil in a conflict situation, doing it is a mere piece of behavior without moral significance of its own. The moral act, they say, cannot be defined without including the end in view—for example, someone who chooses to kill a terminally ill person to end his or her suffering will not, morally speaking, be killing so much as ending suffering, provided the good of the person’s not suffering any longer outweighs his or her being dead before natural death would occur. But while the mercy killer’s act as a whole is not as evil as the Mafia hit-man’s (who, of course, might say he is only earning his living), they are alike in choosing to end a human life and thereby determining themselves against someone’s good and that basic good itself.450
Moreover, this case exemplifies the previously mentioned unworkability of proportionalism. Of course, one can imagine the states of affairs—living on and suffering “like that” for, say, several more weeks, and being dead in a few minutes, with no more suffering—and one can compare the feelings this imagining evokes. But one cannot measure and compare the intelligible goods at stake in the two options and rationally judge in terms of the true fulfillment of the persons involved in the situation either that it will be better if the suffering person is killed now or that it will be better if he or she dies later.451 Proportionalists therefore focus exclusively on concrete instances of human goods, omit from consideration the aspect of their reality residing in people’s choices and commitments (see CMP, 143–45), misconstrue the nature of morality, reducing it to effectiveness in bringing about benefits and preventing harms (see CMP, 154–56), and, in desperation, fall back on nonrational ways of making supposedly moral judgments (see CMP, 159).
How are the preceding modes of responsibility related to moral judgments? Moral norms are applied in moral judgments—for example: “I could deny doing it; but that would be a lie, and lying is always wrong; so, I may not deny doing it” (see CMP, 254–63). Underlying specific moral norms are the modes of responsibility, which enable one to understand, criticize, and correctly apply sound moral norms one has learned and takes for granted, and even to develop new norms regarding new kinds of actions (see LCL, 266–68).
Ordinary language includes some names for kinds of actions described in ways that presuppose a moral judgment—for example, cheating, doing one’s duty. An analysis in terms of the basic human goods and modes of responsibility can explain the presupposed moral judgments and make it possible to identify the specific actions about which they are accurately made. Ordinary language also includes many names for kinds of actions—for example, sexual intercourse, writing a book—described in ways that do not specify the sort of willing the actions involve or, at least, do not specify it sufficiently to make clear its bearing on basic human goods. Such kinds of actions cannot be characterized as morally good or bad; but of course they are never actually performed at this level of unspecified generality. Rather, in choosing to do them, people will in a definite way, and so engage in morally significant acts, which can be described and evaluated as such. Ordinary language includes only a few names for kinds of acts described in a way that sufficiently specifies the willing they involve and its bearing on basic human goods to bring them under a mode of responsibility. In such cases a moral norm, referring to the kind of acts without presupposing a moral judgment, can characterize them morally.
Each of the four modes of responsibility already considered characterizes the choices involved in various kinds of acts as incompatible with the first principle of morality—for example, “Do not repay evil with evil,” “Never procrastinate,” “Getting high is always wrong,” and “One should never lie.” Of course, in each case, the norm must be rightly understood. Repaying evil with evil does not mean causing injury incidentally to carrying out a choice to do some good, such as impose a just punishment, but choosing to injure out of hostile feelings. Procrastinate means choosing to postpone or delay needlessly—that is, without a reason grounded in an intelligible good. Getting high refers to a human act in which one chooses without a reason to satisfy desire despite the reasons for avoiding mind-altering substances. Without getting high in that sense, people sometimes use a mind-altering substance—for example, for pain relief or some other reason for wishing to be anesthetized. Lying is not merely uttering a false statement, as anyone can do by mistake or someone might do precisely in order to point out its falsity. Lying means intentionally asserting what one believes false. That involves a choice to present an outer self at odds with one’s inner self, which always violates the good of consistency between inner and outer selves (see LCL, 405–12).
The mode of responsibility that excludes choosing to do evil for the sake of a good end is by no means the only one bearing on cases in which there is tension between options both of which involve reasons. Quite often, one has both reasons and emotional motives for and against choosing to do something, but the emotional motives for one option are not harmonious with the reason for it. In such cases of mixed motives, the nonintegrated feelings, if not recognized as such and discounted, may lead to a choice other than the one the agent otherwise would make on the basis of a reason and feelings integrated with it. For example, a man and a woman who must do some work together could do it either while other employees are around or after hours, and each also could do some other work by himself or herself at either time. There are reasons favoring both options for scheduling the work together, but erotic feelings, which are not likely to help them get the work done, incline them to do it after hours. They need to recognize those feelings, set them aside, and choose between the options on the basis of the reasons in their favor and the feelings integrated with those reasons.452
Compared with the modes of responsibility I summarized previously, this one, regarding mixed motives, usually directly enters into a conscientious person’s reflection and very seldom is represented by a specific moral norm derived from it. That is so because the unreasonableness of the willing that this mode excludes is not due to what is chosen or to the absence of a reason for the choice but only to the unintegrated emotional motive’s possible effect on the choice—something that very seldom will enter into the description of a kind of act for which ordinary language provides a name. Still, individuals, families, and other small groups sometimes do identify kinds of acts likely to be wrongly chosen due to mixed motives and devise names for them. So, for instance, if the couple in the example work together after hours, associates might say with a wink that they are “toiling overtime.” But even if that expression were meant to refer to the work of couples thought to have mixed motives for working after hours, toiling overtime will not always be wrong; setting aside the erotic motivation, the couple may still think it best to work together after hours while taking due care to avoid romantic distractions. Thus, specific norms derived from this mode of responsibility will not be exceptionless; the same clarification of reasons and motives that grounds such norms can ground exceptions to them (see CMP, 256–59).
The preceding modes of responsibility exclude making certain choices—and so acting—on the basis of emotional motives rather than reasons grounded in relevant intelligible goods. But any good person—and not least a saint—not only avoids violating negative moral norms but uses his or her talents to do good, to do the truth in love. What is the source of the specific affirmative norms that shape those good actions? Good and holy actions in general are prescribed by the first principle of morality—choose possibilities whose willing is compatible with a will toward integral fulfillment, love God and neighbor. People ought to organize their lives by a coherent set of commitments, within an overarching religious commitment.453 Having heard the gospel, one ought to make the commitment of faith (see LCL, 1–46), which entails the specific responsibilities of every Christian: praying, receiving the sacraments, and shaping one’s life by a set of very general norms, expressed in the Beatitudes, which I call “modes of Christian response” (see CMP, 627–59). These in turn require that one accept and faithfully fulfill one’s personal vocation, by making and carrying out a set of commitments that specify many affirmative responsibilities (see LCL, 113–29).
Conscientious Christians sometimes find it difficult to avoid acting on emotional motives rather than reasons, but they seldom find it intellectually difficult to answer the questions such temptations raise. That is not the case with affirmative responsibilities, where the questions that arise often concern the acceptability of bad side effects. In choosing to do something to fulfill a responsibility, one nearly always must accept at least the nonrealization of intelligible goods by not serving persons as one might if one chose a different option, and often one must accept some negative impact on an intelligible good and harm to a person. Fervent converts flee the world and go into the desert to fast and pray, leaving behind starving, sick, and unconverted people whom they otherwise could feed, care for, and evangelize. A man drives a taxi to support his large family and, as required by law, takes passengers to whatever destination they choose, including houses of prostitution and abortion clinics; thus, his work contributes to some passengers’ wrongdoing. Those are bad side effects; it would be wrong to choose them as means or intend them as ends in view. Is it wrong to accept them?
Ideally, one always would be able to answer that question by a prudent judgment, without the question becoming troubling.454 But prudence presupposes experience and all the moral virtues (see CMP, 80–82, LCL, 246–48), and these are acquired by making and carrying out morally good choices. Even Jesus, despite his sinlessness, needed to mature morally (see Lk 2.51–52), and his character was not fully formed until he completed his passion (see Heb 5.7–10; CMP, 436). As we try to acquire virtues and the experience necessary for prudence, we are handicapped by the effects of original sin and our personal sins. We never become perfectly prudent.
For the prudent person, moral insight would not begin only when reflective analysis becomes difficult, and moral judgment would forestall rather than forbid wrong choices (see S.t, 2–2, q. 47, a. 8; CMP, 80–82). Love fulfills the entire law; love is all that we ought to be (see 1 Cor 13). For us, even if in the state of grace, the gap between feelings, afflicted with concupiscence, and the love of God poured forth by the Spirit is manifest when we are tempted to get even with those who hurt us, to procrastinate, to drink to get high, to lie, to “toil overtime.” Still, if we accept God’s grace and are conscientious—that is, if we do our very best to find out what we should do and not do—then, with God’s grace, we can choose uprightly, even if at times mistakenly, gradually gain moral insight, and so begin to become prudent (see LCL, 246–56). Therefore, difficult as reflective analysis may be—and inadequate as it is compared with perfect prudence—we must carry it out as well as we can whenever moral questions trouble us.
Moral reflection on accepting side effects obviously presupposes a choice in conformity with the preceding modes of responsibility. One cannot reasonably accept any bad side effects while choosing as one never should or choosing with mixed motives. However, accepting bad side effects often is morally questionable even when one’s choice is good in itself—both what one is choosing and any end in view are consonant with every principle of practical reasoning—and all one’s emotional motivation for making the choice is integrated with one’s reason or reasons for making it. Questions about accepting side effects sometimes result from failing to pay attention to them and consider them carefully, so as to see precisely how they are bad and how bad they are. But even if one understands the intelligible good at stake and takes it as a reason against accepting some side effect, one may lack adequate emotional motivation to act on that reason. In that case, forgoing the choice so as to avoid the bad side effect will seem unrealistic, if not impossible.
Since emotional motivation pertains to sentient nature, it is fairly well proportioned to sentient goods and bads. But for the same reason, feelings are not naturally adequate to motivate us to act for intelligible goods and to avoid intelligible bads. This inadequacy is fourfold.
(1) Since an animal’s behavior can serve only the individual itself and a few others—its mate, offspring, other members of its own group—emotional motivation does not naturally lead each individual to behavior that serves other members of its species, and it may lead it to behavior hostile to them. But my action can affect the human goods not only of me and mine but of anyone, and, unless there is a reason to treat people differently, the capacity everyone has to be humanly fulfilled is a reason to treat everyone alike.
(2) Since an animal’s behavior can realize only sentient goods, emotional motivation does not naturally lead to behavior that contributes to flourishing that transcends the realization of such goods. But human action can contribute to human fulfillment not only in respect to survival and healthful functioning but in respect to the whole range of intelligible goods, including the reflexive goods that can make a person good in an unqualified sense (see CMP, 128–32).
(3) Since an animal’s behavior can realize only imaginable goals and its imagination naturally is limited to a set of recurrent possibilities, emotional motivation does not naturally lead to behavior that realizes unfamiliar and entirely new goals. But human agents, individual and communal, can participate in and contribute to human fulfillment by trying different ways of acting and introducing new ones, revising and replacing existing methods and projects, and so on. And creativity often is required to overcome evil, to avoid accepting it, and to develop appealing alternatives to doing it.
(4) Since an animal’s behavior can realize only transient goods, emotional motivation cannot naturally lead to behavior toward anything as lasting beyond this life. But human agents can act for goods that transcend time. Indeed, unless they do so, they will not be consistently reasonable—for example, faithful to commitments. “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor 15.32).
Even for animals, the initial, natural limits of emotional motivation are extended somewhat by experience and can be expanded greatly by training. Human emotional motivation, far more malleable than that of other animals, regularly transcends its initial, natural bounds. It often is drawn beyond those bounds by practical understanding of human goods, but when it is not, it may be drawn psychopathologically and perversely in respect even to sentient goods, as is shown by self-destructive behavior—for example, substance abuse. To play their part in a good human life, feelings obviously need to expand so that they can work in harmony with practical reason and motivate toward all the goals of the good acts that make up that good life. But even that is not enough. Feelings need to expand so that they can work in harmony with practical reason’s recognition of the bad side effects of otherwise good options and can motivate, without nonrational limitations, against accepting them. This need to expand feelings can be articulated in four modes of responsibility corresponding to the four above-listed natural limitations on emotional motivation.
The first of those limitations—the focus of emotional motivation on the self and a few significant others—inclines people to prefer themselves and those to whom they are attached to all other people, even when there is no reason based in an intelligible good for doing so. Not only individuals but groups frequently act on this unreasonable inclination. Having done so and not repented, people develop rationalizations. Those others deserve to be treated differently because they are naturally inferior, or they pose a serious threat, or they are not persons “in the whole sense.” Habits and social structures—customary practices, laws, complex institutions—often embody such rationalizations. Those to whom such habits and social structures give an unreasonable advantage are likely to accept them uncritically as justifying the preference they enjoy and to invoke them in defending so-called rights.
But a will characterized by egoism and partiality plainly cannot be open to integral human fulfillment. So, many diverse cultures have recognized and formulated a mode of responsibility requiring that people be treated alike when there is no reason for treating them differently. Among philosophers, this moral requirement often is called “the principle of universalizability”: If a rule is to be fair, it must omit proper names and apply equally to any and all persons who meet its intelligible conditions. No matter how the mode of responsibility is formulated, the key to its effectiveness in shaping sound moral norms and judgments is that the reasons or intelligible conditions that justify differences in treatment must be understood in terms of basic human goods, rather than in terms of something else, such as habits and structures embodying rationalization. So, my formulation expressly refers to feelings and intelligible goods: One should not, in response to different feelings toward different persons, willingly proceed with a preference for anyone unless the preference is required by intelligible goods themselves (CMP, 211). A formulation along these lines can clarify the basis of specific moral norms of fairness, and explain why they sometimes admit of exceptions (see CMP, 256–57).
Nevertheless, the most famous formulation of this mode of responsibility does not refer to intelligible goods. It is the “Golden Rule” stated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7.12; cf. Lk 6.31). Compared with the universalizability principle and my own formulation, the Golden Rule offers one great advantage. It suggests a way of applying the principle: Put yourself in the other’s place. The driver in a hurry, reluctant to make way for others, is instructed by the Golden Rule to ask: “What would I want other drivers to do if I were trying to merge into this traffic stream?” Even habits and structures of injustice can be criticized in this way (see LCL, 282–84).
Jesus clearly is assuming that those who will apply the Golden Rule love themselves—that is, seek genuine fulfillment in intelligible goods—and he takes for granted the goods that are reasons for acting or refraining from acting. The imaginative exercise of putting oneself in the other’s place does not refer to those goods or even indirectly call attention to them. Plainly, the Golden Rule is not a law designed to catch people who are obdurate in injustice. Rather, it is a help for conscientious people who want to do what is right but for whom fairness is not yet second nature. Such people can share another’s identity, as it were, by an exercise of imagination and, through that exercise, extend their feelings for themselves to embrace that other. This exercise not only helps them see what is right but affects their emotional motivation for the better, and thus inclines them to act fairly. Hence, Christians who want to grow in the virtue of justice can do so by regularly using the Golden Rule in making moral judgments.
People who truly love themselves already are disposed toward virtue at least inasmuch as they are self-determined toward intelligible goods as aspects of their own fulfillment and that of those near and dear—they would not, for example, kill themselves or a family member. For such people, then, regularly applying the Golden Rule will bring to bear in all choices affecting others all the directiveness of practical reason’s principles. Thus, with true self-love as their starting point, people grow not only in fairness but in love of neighbor (see LCL, 306–9). Moreover, for those whose self-love is transformed by the desire always to enjoy the benefit of Jesus’ love, the practice of the Golden Rule means loving others as Jesus loves them. That love is Christian mercy, which even prefers others’ good to one’s own whenever no other duty forbids that (see LCL, 310–17, 360–67).
When sound self-love cannot be taken for granted, however, one must not apply the Golden Rule without first making sure one would not have others choose as they should not or with mixed motives. Thus, someone who lies to spare another’s feelings does not soundly argue: “If I were he (she), I would rather be lied to than told the truth.” Moreover, one must remember that the Golden Rule bears on actions—“Do unto others”—not on states of affairs. Thus, though suffering people can rightly pray to die soon, someone who commits euthanasia does not soundly argue: “I would not wish to endure such suffering; so, the Golden Rule requires me to kill him (her).” Finally, in putting oneself in another’s place when applying the Golden Rule, one should take along one’s capacity to make sound moral judgments: all the truth one knows, one’s moral responsibilities, one’s ability to reason, and one’s normal feelings with regard to the matters at issue.
The second natural limitation on emotional motivation is its focus on sentient goods. This limitation inclines people to prefer the aspects of human goods everyone naturally enjoys (even when there is no reason based in an intelligible good for that preference) to intellectual, moral, and cultural goods whose enjoyment presupposes various sorts of developed abilities—such as knowledge, moral virtue, and excellence in work and play. The inclination to prefer the aspects of goods everyone enjoys obviously leads to sensuality and materialism, but grossly unreasonable acts are excluded by prior modes of responsibility. However, commitments one is called to make or has made can make it reasonable to prefer to act for or protect an instance of good whose enjoyment presupposes a developed ability, and doing that can require that one forgo acting for a naturally enjoyable instance of good despite a reason—perhaps even one that otherwise would ground an obligation—to act for it.
As the mode of responsibility requiring impartiality among people is implemented by applying the Golden Rule, this one must be implemented by an analogous exercise of imagination. But whereas the Golden Rule expands feelings to embrace people with whom one does not naturally identify, the imaginative exercise needed here must educate feelings to respond to goods whose enjoyment presupposes developed abilities one lacks. Only those who have moral virtue—and the developed ability, if it is not itself a moral virtue—have the appropriate emotional motivation. So, the required exercise is to get to know such people and to share, at least imaginatively, in their excellent acts, so as to learn to feel as they do.
This exercise is not the only reason morally imperfect people should look to moral exemplars, but it does make such exemplars absolutely necessary. Morally exemplary people embody the prior modes of responsibility, including the Golden Rule, but those principles are intelligible in themselves. While such people sometimes provide a model for dealing with some very specific question, often our difficult moral questions do not seem to have been confronted by anyone whose example we can trust. Still, moral exemplars, and they alone, can teach us how to feel about instantiations of goods realizable only with developed abilities and in ways that contribute to human fulfillment as a whole only in the acts of morally upright people.
Jesus invites us to learn from him. We can do so by reading the Gospels as we do other stories, identifying with their hero, and imaginatively sharing in his acts. But the process will be far more effective if we do what we cannot do with fictional or many real heroes: enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and cooperate with him in carrying on his work (see CMP, 663–64). The Church also offers the saints as exemplars, and from among them we can select a few with whom we have suitable affinities and get to know them well.
Getting to know Jesus and the saints requires avoiding counterfeits and fictional accounts. Besides listening to the Gospels at Mass, we also should read each carefully as an account of Jesus’ life. Commentaries and devotional works, even if sound, merit only secondary consideration. The writings of saints often are more helpful than things written about them, which always must be selected with great care.
Even so, Jesus cannot be a moral exemplar with respect to some elements of most peoples’ personal vocations—marriage, work, and so on—nor are there adequate models even among the saints for some aspects of the vocations of most lay people. Nevertheless, deficient in virtue though we are, we can identify moral exemplars in our midst. They do not violate exceptionless moral norms; they treat others not only fairly but mercifully; and, if Catholics, they are devout. Associating with such a person greatly enhances one’s feelings in regard to all the goods to which he or she is committed.
The third natural limitation on emotional motivation is its focus within a definite horizon on a set of goals to be achieved by using appropriate means. This limitation inclines people to persist in pursuing familiar goals in familiar ways and to be strongly attached to the ways and means, the projects and institutions that have served in fulfilling their commitments. The inclination can lead to pragmatic moral compromise, but doing evil to achieve good is excluded by a prior mode of responsibility. However, changes in one’s gifts and the opportunities to use them in service can make it appropriate to give up familiar goals and the ways and means used to pursue them, to abandon projects, to end institutions or withdraw from them, and to seek new ways of fulfilling one’s irrevocable commitments.
Our feelings need to be educated to engage fully with concrete things that implement our commitments, to disengage readily from those same things when they no longer do so, and to respond powerfully to the hazy images that beckon us to be creative—to envisage new goals, find new ways and means, undertake new projects, establish new institutions. For this, we need an imaginative exercise that will enable us to put into a larger but still concrete context the goals—and, indeed, all the imaginable aspects—of everything good we have done, are doing, and might yet do. If that inclusive, concrete context can be imagined as a goal corresponding to all the goods to which we are committed, passion for it not only will generate appropriate emotional motivation with respect to the various things that are or might become important to us but will end that motivation when it no longer is appropriate.
Morally serious nonbelievers recognize the problem and try to solve it in various ways. Some, for example, try to imagine how their lives will seem to them when they are about to die, or how they will be judged by “history.” The Christian solution is to consider life as the set of good deeds that God prepared in advance for one to walk in, as one’s unique part in his all-inclusive plan. One seeks the kingdom first, trusts providence, organizes life by the commitments of personal vocation, and constantly tries to carry them out. Meditating on heaven and hell stimulates one’s feelings with regard to the all-inclusive context for all the things with which one is concerned in this life.455
Vatican II’s teaching provides fresh material for that meditation, which now can be a more effective exercise than ever before. The Council teaches that those who obey the Lord while living their lives in this world prepare material for the heavenly kingdom, that this material includes all the good fruits of their human nature and effort, and that they will once more find these good fruits, unmarred by evil and completed, in the fullness of the kingdom (see GS 38–39). When we imagine the kingdom in this way, our passion for it is intensified by its richness in imaginable human goods, and that passion as it were infuses the materials for the kingdom with which we are and might be occupied in this life. Yet those materials may not include familiar goals and things to which we are attached, since they will be all, but only, what concerns us as we follow God’s plan for our lives—no matter where it leads, no matter what it costs, no matter whether our obedient efforts to bring about concrete results succeed magnificently or fail dismally.
The fourth natural limitation on emotional motivation is its focus on the goods that can be realized in this life. This limitation inclines people to treat all goods as if transient and to regard difficult moral requirements as ideals. But nobody can be consistently reasonable unless he or she considers intelligible goods lasting and solidly real. Thus, our feelings must be educated to engage without wavering with certain concrete things that somehow embody changeless goodness. This calls for an imaginative exercise that sets those things apart and lifts them out of the flow of time.
The ancient sophists and modern utilitarians denied lasting reality and intelligible goods. Plato responded to the sophists by arguing for the immortality of the soul and the eternity of disembodied values. Nietzsche tried to answer the utilitarians by positing the regular, endless repetition of the entire history of the universe, including the precise details of each individual’s life.
For Christians, this problem is closely related to the previous one. This visible world is passing away, but an invisible, permanent world already is coming to be. Risen in their own bodies, those who die in grace will live in that world, forever confirmed in holiness. Once again, Vatican II’s teaching refines and develops the image of heaven. Yet the image of heaven’s solid and unending reality probably is less available to the sensibility of most Christians today than it was to that of those who participated with simple faith in liturgies celebrated in medieval cathedrals, joining with the angels and saints in thanking God while sunlight streamed through the stained glass and then receiving holy Communion with lively hope that this sharing in the one bread would be their foretaste of the banquet that will last forever.
Having carried reflective analysis as far as one can and done one’s best to educate one’s feelings, one sometimes confidently concludes that two or more options are morally acceptable though only one can be chosen. It is not yet clear which of these good deeds belongs to the life God has prepared for one to walk in (see Eph 2.10). Now, but only now, is the time for discernment (see LCL, 291).
Discernment returns to emotions, this time seeking to determine how well the possibilities otherwise judged good comport with the rest of one’s individual personality. Even when fully integrated with reason, emotions do not simply echo it. They also resonate to the bodily, organic, and psychic dimensions of the personality; and these, insofar as they are integrated with faith, also are parts of one’s better, Christian self. So, emotions which resonate to them pertain to grace, indicate God’s will for one, and rightly tip the balance among possibilities otherwise judged good.
To discern is to compare two sets of feelings. One set is related to faith and integrated with it, and these Christian emotions are aroused by prayer, worship, spiritual reading, and so on. The other set includes those emotions bearing on the possibilities between which one must discern. These emotions are aroused by carefully and concretely considering as fully as possible what actually would be involved in the options under consideration. (It is assumed that the necessary investigating and information gathering already have been done.) Then one’s Christian-faith emotions are compared with the sets of emotions related to each option—emotions reflecting not only the realities on which they bear but the reality of one’s hidden self.
What is involved here is not some sort of objective measurement, but the effort to perceive an inward harmony. If the emotions related to one option plainly harmonize better with one’s Christian-faith emotions, that can be considered the option which pleases one’s Christian self, and one should choose as pleases this self.456
438. Given the purpose and limits of this appendix, it should be neither considered apart from the earlier treatments it presupposes nor mistaken for a summary version of the theory of natural law theologically articulated in chapters four through eight of CMP. For a summary, see the corresponding chapters of Germain Grisez and Russell Shaw, Fulfillment in Christ: A Summary of Christian Moral Principles (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991). Those wishing to understand and/or criticize the ethical theory insofar as it is the fruit of philosophical collaboration should focus on its articulation in two works: John Finnis, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., and Germain Grisez, Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), esp. chaps. 9–11; Germain Grisez, Joseph Boyle, and John Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” American Journal of Jurisprudence, 32 (1987): 99–151.
439. The random movements of an animal or small child lacking motivation to do anything in particular do not constitute purposeful behavior; such movements may manifest the organ-ism’s readiness to adapt but are not themselves adaptive. The fourth sort of tendency is to desist from random movement and behave in ways adaptively shaped to meet the need or needs satisfied during rest and sleep.
440. John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 48 and 50, AAS 85 (1993) 1172–73, OR, 6 Oct. 1993, viii, calls such goods “chief” or “fundamental” rather than “basic”; what I say about such goods in CMP and shall say about them below is consistent with the encyclical’s teaching about them—see, e.g., 13 (AAS 1144, OR, iii), 67 (AAS 1187, OR, x), 79 (AAS 1197, OR, xii).
441. The ability of human persons to make free choices is taken for granted in the Bible and solemnly defined by the Council of Trent; see CMP, 42–43. The reality of free choice also can be defended philosophically; see CMP, 45; Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., Germain Grisez, and Olaf Tollefsen, Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976).
442. See CMP, 393–97, 485–87, 690–93; LCL, 7–8; Grisez, Boyle, and Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” 140–46. On faith as the basic commitment of Christian life—and therefore as the Christian fundamental option—also see John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 65–67, AAS 85 (1993) 1184–87, OR, 6 Oct. 1993, x.
443. See CMP, 121–25, 135–39; LCL, 555–84. For a philosophical explanation and defense of the basic goods, see Grisez, Boyle, and Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” 102–15.
444. If one can and should do something but chooses not to do it, one’s adoption of that proposal also is a human act—a chosen omission (see CMP, 234)—but for simplicity’s sake, I shall not repeatedly mention omissions here.
445. In many cases, agents have more than one end in view. So, here and in what follows, the singular should be understood as standing for both the singular and the plural—end in view or ends in view, good or goods, and so on.
446. Even God foresees and accepts evils that he does not choose (see DS 1556/816; S.t., 1, q. 22, a. 2, ad 2; q. 49, a. 2; 1–2, q. 79, aa. 2–4; S.c.g., 1.96, 3.71). To deny this would be to deny at least one of three propositions, all of which pertain to faith: that God’s will is perfectly holy, that his providence is all-embracing, and that some creatures have sinned with the result that evil is real. So, accepting bad side effects is compatible with good will. But choosing what is bad or having a bad end in view is not compatible with good will, because making a choice is self-determination with respect to everything included in the proposal adopted by that choice. Still, agents who wrongly accept side effects often have chosen previously to violate the good involved or in the course of deliberation have made a procedural choice to disregard the interests of the person or persons who will be adversely affected, and so have determined themselves wrongly. Thus, though the distinction between rightly accepting a bad side effect and choosing what would bring about the same state of affairs is morally crucial, there is little or no moral significance to the distinction between wrongly accepting a bad side effect and choosing what will bring about the same bad state of affairs.
447. For criticism of proportionalism and defense of the moral absolutes it was meant to replace, see CMP, 141–71, the works cited there, and two more recent publications: John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 71–83, AAS 85 (1993) 1190–1200, OR, 6 Oct. 1993, xi–xiii; John Finnis, Moral Absolutes: Tradition, Revision, and Truth (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1991).
448. See CMP, 178–84; cf. Grisez, Boyle, and Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” 115–29. This formulation is closely related to the “norm of human activity” articulated by Vatican II in GS 35 (see CMP, 183–84); it also spells out what Paul VI meant by saying that “human self-fulfillment may be said to sum up our obligations” (Populorum progressio, AAS 59  263–65, PE, 275.16, with 275.13–15; see CMP, 184–85).
449. See CMP, 205–28. The first of the four modes mentioned here corresponds to the seventh mode in CMP, the second here to the first and (in part) the fourth there, the third here to the third and (in part) the fourth there, and the fourth here to the eighth there.
450. Not only those who dissent from exceptionless moral norms taught by the Church but some who try to defend them suppose that human acts basically are pieces of behavior that are specified by (are the kinds of acts they are due to) what they cause. John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 78, AAS 85 (1993) 1196, OR, 6 Oct. 1993, xii, clearly and firmly rejects this mistaken view (his italics): “The morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the ‘object’ rationally chosen by the deliberate will, as is borne out by the insightful analysis, still valid today, made by Saint Thomas (see S.t., 1–2, q. 18, a. 6). In order to be able to grasp the object of an act which specifies that act morally, it is therefore necessary to place oneself in the perspective of the acting person. The object of the act of willing is in fact a freely chosen kind of behavior. To the extent that it is in conformity with the order of reason, it is the cause of the goodness of the will; it perfects us morally, and disposes us to recognize our ultimate end in the perfect good, primordial love. By the object of a given moral act, then, one cannot mean a process or an event of the merely physical order, to be assessed on the basis of its ability to bring about a given state of affairs in the outside world. Rather, that object is the proximate end of a deliberate decision which determines the act of willing on the part of the acting person. Consequently, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, ‘there are certain specific kinds of behavior that are always wrong to choose, because choosing them involves a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil’ (CCC, 1761).”
451. Since proportionalists cannot show how to measure and compare benefits and harms as their theory requires, they point out that goods and bads of various sorts often are measured and compared in other contexts. That of course is true, but the commensurability of various sorts of goods and bads in various other contexts does not help proportionalists; see Finnis, Boyle, and Grisez, Nuclear Deterrence, 261–66, and the detailed examination of consequen-tialist arguments for and against the deterrent in the same work, 177–237, which illustrates well the arbitrariness and futility of such arguments.
452. This mode of responsibility, regarding mixed motives, and its application are treated in LCL, 273–81, but there it is not called a mode of responsibility, and only the first three examples—(a), (b), and (c) on 276–77 and 280–81—pertain to it; the other examples discussed there pertain to the Golden Rule and to other modes of responsibility that I shall articulate, below, after dealing with the Golden Rule. Thus, the set of modes of responsibility treated in CMP, 205–28, is incomplete. Moreover, the second is reducible to the fifth, and the sixth, I think, is reducible to two or more of the others. In CMP the modes of responsibility were distinguished and articulated so that they would correspond to the Beatitudes (see CMP, 609–11, 627–59); though I remain convinced of the soundness of the other elements of the account in CMP of the relationship between Christian morality and natural law, I now see that the relationship between the modes of responsibility and the Beatitudes, while real, is more complex than I realized.
453. See CMP, 393–97, 485–87, 690–93; LCL, 7–8; Grisez, Boyle, and Finnis, “Practical Principles, Moral Truth, and Ultimate Ends,” 140–46.
454. See appendix 2, “Judging whether one’s reason would be proportionate and proportionalism,” for an explanation of how that prudent judgment would be made, and how the judgment that one has a proportionate reason for accepting side effects differs from a proportionalist “judgment” that one has a reason for choosing to destroy, damage, or impede a human good.
455. Such meditation can be aided by sound theology of heaven and hell. An entirely sound and very helpful work: James T. O’Connor, Land of the Living: A Theology of Last Things (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1992).
456. This summary of the process of discernment is drawn from LCL, 292; see 291–93, including the footnotes, for a more adequate treatment of the matter.