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Analysis of the moral act. A proposal

II.c.3. Objective morality

The point of view sustained by St. Thomas and his commentators, as well as that of Veritatis Splendor, can be denominated objective morality (51). The meaning of the expression comes to be the following: objective morality is that which sustains that the acts of the will are determined by their object, that is, by the quid of the action they produce, since the decision of the will with reference to the action being carried out here and now is what bears the greater part of the action's morality (52); and there are objects (quids of the act of the will) which it will always be evil to try or choose, because they cannot be ordered to God nor to true good of man (53). Objective morality or the objective moral order is a fixed reference for the good of the conduct, reference which occurs in all voluntary acts.

In this respect, the relatively frequent confusion of associating the fixity of the objective moral order with the fixity of material reality has to be avoided. On this view, the immutability of the moral order would be derived from physical actions: certain physical actions would always be evil and moral principles would be immutable because physical reality with its intrinsic laws is immutable (54). Perhaps this confusion is due to the other, mentioned above, between the moral object and the physical realization of the action.

As can be inferred from the previous discussion, the immutability of the moral order is not derived from the physical realities which the elections of the acting subject deal with, but rather they are derived from the natural laws internal to the acting subject: the action's execution is posterior to the subject's decision, which is good or bad before being executed. For this reason it is impossible to derive moral laws from physical actions. The expression "objective moral law" refers to the natural law interior to the acting subject.


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