The Moral Act: The “Sources of Morality”. There are three basic components for determining whether an action is moral or immoral:. The object chosen The intention (the “end”) The circumstances surrounding the action. The Object Chosen.
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There are three basic components for determining whether an action is moral or immoral:
This is the act itself (what you do).Pope John Paul II identifies the object chosen as the “primary and decisive element” for moral judgment.
Can you think of some acts that are morally GOOD?
Helping at your church
Giving to a charity
Tutoring a friend
Telling the truth
Helping your parents with chores
Can you think of some acts that are morally BAD?
If the object is bad, it automatically makes the action evil (even if the intention and circumstances are good).
This is the “WHY” of the act. This is rooted in your WILL. Intentions can be good, bad, or mixed.
For example, the object is “giving to charity.”
You want to help others, but you also want to get attention for your contribution.
You give to charity to help those less fortunate than yourself.
You give to charity to manipulate others into thinking you are someone you’re not.
For example, wanting to get into college is a good end (intention). Cheating to achieve this end is an intrinsically evil act; therefore, it cannot be justified because of a good intention.
For example, complimenting someone is a good act, but doing it simply because you want that person to write you a letter of recommendation is deceitful and insincere and erases the good of complimenting someone.
This is the “HOW, WHO, WHEN, WHERE” of the act.
For example, being overwhelmed by the fear of personal harm and not helping a dying victim at an accident scene could greatly diminish moral responsibility.
For example, fear of being ridiculed by friends does not justify speaking racial slurs.
“A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself(such as praying and fasting ‘in order to be seen by men’).
The object of choice can by itself vitiate [corrupt] an act in its entirety.There are some concrete acts– such as fornication– that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.” CCC 1755
- Vincible Ignorance is that which can and should be dispelled. For example, if someone thinks it might be wrong not to eat meat on Fridays in Lent but purposely never asks a priest or a friend about it, then he still commits sin if he eats meat on those days.
- Invincible Ignoranceis that which cannot be dispelled. In other words, someone is ignorant of his own ignorance.
“We can sum up by saying that invincible ignorance eliminates the moral responsibility for a human act; vincible ignorance does not eliminate moral responsibility, but may lessen it.”