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Analysis of the moral act. A proposal


1 Although many more articles could be cited, the following are representative of the various posture in the debate: Peter Knauer, Conceptos fundamentales de la Encíclica "Veritatis Splendor", Razón y fe 229 (1994) 1, pp. 47-63; Richard McCormick, Some early reactions to Veritatis Splendor, Theological Studies, 55, 1994, pp. 481-506; Martin Rhonheimer, "Intrinsically evil acts" and the moral viewpoint: clarifying a central teaching of Veritatis Splendor", The Thomist58 (1994) 1, 1-39

2 Cf. the first chapter of Gilson’s Being and some Philosophers (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1952, 2nd ed., pp. 1-40), suggestively titled "On being and the One", relative to Platonic philosophy.

3 This affirmation would require ulterior clarifications and investigations: although in St. Augustine rationes seminales are divine ideas not yet inserted into things, in later Augustinianism theserationes come to be present in things as potential forms. The road to the esse essentiae of formalist philosophy is thus initiated.

4 Cf. Ricardo Yepes, La doctrina del acto en Aristóteles. EUNSA, Pamplona, 1993, pp. 265-288.

5 Cf. Aristotle, Physics, 195 a-b.

6 Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1048a-b; and Ricardo Yepes, op. cit., pp. 246ff.

7 Despite the fact that the condemnation was by a single bishop, the sentence against Tempier had enormous repercussions in the universal Church, almost like those derived from the condemnations of a universal council. Cf. Hissette, R.,Note sur la réaction "antimoderniste" d’Etienne Tempier, Bulletin de philosophie médieval 22 (1980), pp. 89-97.

8 As an expression of this Platonizing manner of conceiving act and potency, the following text by Francisco Suárez may be useful: "Potentia et actus non bene dicuntur entis principia; ens enim est simplicissimum et ideo quomodocumque existit est ens in actu etsi forte in potentia ad aliud" (Disputationes metaphisicae, d. 15, s. 9).

9 And all that is said to be being in some manner, according to this concept.

10 Cfr. S. Th. Iª-IIae, q. 6, aa. 1, 2, 8.

11 In connection with St. Thomas’ exposition we will mention especially outstanding works which have rediscovered and deepened important questions in Thomistic moral philosophy; these citations will not address questions that are generally admitted as pertaining to the general patrimony. The modern author who has most convincingly attained my attention is Grisez (especially his work The Way of the Lord Jesus, Vol. I: Christian Moral Principles, Chicago, Franciscan Herald Press, 1983, 971 pp.; and the more mature elaboration in collaboration with Shaw, Fulfillment in Christ. A Summary of Christian Moral Principles, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1991, 456 pp.).

12 Although the Thomistic reasonings which follow are philosophical, Pinckaers sustains, very relevantly, that the Thomistic philosophical analysis of the moral act forms a totality with what is properly Christian in human behavior. Cf. Servais Pinckaers, Las Fuentes de la moral cristiana.Pamplona, EUNSA, 1988, 592 pp. (pp. 227ff) and El evangelio y la moral. Barcelona, EIUNSA, 1992, 276 pp. (pp. 69ff.).

13 This "touching" is in any event indirect, by means of a mental object (which constitutes the concept) and of the adequatio of said object with reality. Cf. De veritate, q. 1, a. 2, c. With respect to the will’s reference to reality, cf. G. E. M. Anscombe, Intention, 2nded., Blackwell, Oxford, 1976, especially pp. 37ff.

14 For St. Thomas, the moral object is the terminus (or determiner) of the decision and thus he compares it with the form of movement’s end, which is the terminus of movement itself: "Sicut autem res naturalis habet speciem ex sua form ita actio habet speciem ex obiecto; sicut et motus ex termino" (S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 2, c). The intention and the end also maintain this relations: "Et ideo manifestum est quod principium humanorum actuum, inquantum sunt humani, est finis; et similiter est terminus eorundem: nam id ad quod terminatur actus humanus, est id quod voluntas intendit tamquam finem" (S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 1, a. 3, c).

15 Examples abound, and it is not tarnishing to those who sustain this thesis, since it is not a question that is obvious at first glance. Nevertheless the question changes significantly if the author who makes the affirmation has explicitly accepted the intentional nature of acts of the will. This is what occurs with Knauer, who, on the one hand, makes intention and end to be the same when he speaks of "intention", that is, the "finality of the person who is acting ..." (Peter Knauer, op. cit.,p. 56), whereas on the other hand he accepts the intentionality of the will in echoing the terms of Veritatis Splendor and says that "only that which is intended by the acting subject can be the ‘object’ of the action and thus the finality of the action; it is that towards which ‘the will tends deliberately’" (ibid.). Any result can be derived from this contradiction. In any event, this author’s position is more complex, since it rests in the distinction between finis operis and finis operantis. This distinction does not appear in the Thomistic analysis of the moral act and, at least in part, he makes it rest upon the physical reality of the action’s morality.

16 Veritatis Splendor, n. 78.

17 Ibid.

18 Cf. Peter Knauer, op. cit. p. 56 and Richard A. McCormick, op. cit., pp. 494ff.

19 "The morality of acts is defined by the relationship of man’s freedom with the authentic good ... Acting is morally good when the choices of freedom are in conformity with man’s true good and thus express the voluntary ordering of the person towards his ultimate end ... Activity is morally good when it attests to and expresses the voluntary ordering of the person to his ultimate end and the conformity of a concrete action with human good as it is acknowledged in its truth by reason", Veritatis Splendor, n. 78. "Principium autem bonitatis et malitiae humanorum actuum est ex actu voluntatis", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 19, a. 2, c. Grisez has amply developed this idea, relating it to human plenitude, in Germain Grisez, Russell Shaw, Beyond the new morality, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1980 (revised ed.), 232 pp. Also Finnis, commenting upon Aristotelian ethics, relates morally good action with goods that are properly human: cf. Fundamentals of Ethics, Oxford, Clarendon Press 1983, 165 pp. (pp. 50-3) and Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986, 425 pp. (pp. 81-90). To this relation of good action with appropriate particular ends would have to be added the intellectusor the intuitus of the good or of the ultimate end, sketched by Aristotle and present in St. Thomas —which Finnis considers to be a merely theoretical question (cf. Fundamentals, pp. 14ff)—thus the supernatural enrichment of this intellectual act.

St. Thomas, in the same way that he considers that being is an act (actus essendi) limited by an essence in which can be considered primary matter, the substantial form and the accidents, considers that the act of the will is an (intentional) act limited or determined by a series of quidditates: the object, the end and the circumstances (cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 4, c, where he distinguishes theactio and the quidditates of this actio: the species (moral object), the circumstances (equivalent to the accidents), and the end, which, seen from the viewpoint of action, is like an accident (ibid., ad 2). He also expresses the priority of the act of the will by saying that the act of will can be compared to the exterior realization as form to matter: S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 6, ad 2.

20 "Voluntas movet intellectum quantum ad exercitium actus: quia et ipsum verum, quod est perfectio intellectus, continetur sub universali bono ut quoddam bonum particulare" (S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 9, a. 1, ad 3). An explanation of this element, together with the rest of the Thomistic analysis of human acting, can be found in Odon Lottin, Morale Fondamentale, Tournai, Desclée, 1954, 546 pp. (pp. 229ff).

21 Veritatis Splendor, n. 61.

22 "Certainly there is need to take into account ... the goods obtained and the evils avoided as a result of a particular act. Responsibility demands as much": Veritatis Splendor, n. 77.

23 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, qq. 15-17. Cf. Lottin, op. cit.

24 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 14.

25 Cf. Giuseppe Abbà, Felicidad, vida buena y virtud, Barcelona, Eiunsa 1992, pp. 76 and 203-205.

26 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 5.

27 "The weighing of the goods and evils foreseeable as the consequence of an action ...": Veritatis Splendor, n. 77.

28 Veritatis Splendor, n. 64.

29 "In the case of positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent",Veritatis Splendor, n. 67. Ordinary language attributes the role of prudence to "the well formed conscience". Abbà also expresses the same idea in his study, which has returned the role of virtues in moral acting to first place. Cf. Giuseppe Abbà, op. cit., pp. 256-258 and 260-261. Lottin has a classic analysis of virtue in St. Thomas (études de morale, histoire et doctrine. Gembloux, Duculot 1961, 365 pp.) and there are other works of incontestable quality treating this subject.

30 "Intentio, sicut ipsum nomen sonat, significat in aliquid tendere. In aliquid autem tendit et actio moventis, et motus mobilis. Sed hoc quod motus mobilis in aliquid tendit, ab actione moventis procedit. Unde intentio primo et principaliter pertinet ad id quod movet ad finem", S. Th. Iª-IIae, q. 12, a. 1, c.

31 "The rational ordering of the human act to the good in its truth and the voluntary pursuit of that good, known by reason, constitute morality", Veritatis Splendor, n. 72. Those who criticize the position of Veritatis Splendor indicate on the other hand that morality is specified, at least in part, by the physical reality of the action or its consequences, which generally come to be known as premoral goods or values. Cf. Peter Knauer, op. cit., pp. 59-60 and Richard A. McCormick,op. cit., p. 504.

32 Here would be pertinent the denominationevent, taken from analytic philosophy. The physical act, the mere deeds, would be this event, whereas the event, linked to the will that desires it, becomes the end and therefore acquires moral qualification, only, however, because it is the end of an act of the will, not because the event in and of itself possesses morality.

33 "If the object of the concrete action is not in harmony with the true good of the person, the choice of that action makes our will and ourselves morally evil", Veritatis Splendor, n. 72. Cf. the works of Grisez and Finnis, cited in note 19 above. St. Thomas expresses this idea by saying that an action is good or bad if is in agreement or not with the "ordo rationis": "actus humanus, qui dicitur moralis, habet speciem ab obiecto relato ad principium actuum humanorum, quod est ratio. Unde si obiectum actus includat aliquid quod conveniat ordini rationis, erit actus bonus secundum suam speciem, sicut dare eleemosynam indigenti. Si autem includat aliquid quod repugnet ordini rationis, erit malus actus secundum speciem, sicut furari, quod est tollere aliena", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 8, c. In effect reason is that which by means of the virtues discovers the demands of nature; to speak of the "ordo rationis" is the same as speaking of the truth of man, and of human nature (cf. Veritatis Splendor, n. 51).

34 "Bonitas voluntatis ex intentione finis dependet",S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 19, a. 7, s. c. "In actione humana bonitas quadruplex considerari potest ... quarta autem secundum finem, quasi secundum habitudinem ad causam bonitas", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 4, c; this relation to the cause of the good is the intentionality of the will.

35 Cf. Veritatis Splendor, nn. 71-83.

36 "In order to be able to grasp the object of an act which specifies that act morally, it is therefore necessary to place oneselfin the perspective of the acting person",Veritatis Splendor, n. 78. Here Veritatis Splendor is referring to the act of election, but it is equally applicable to the intention, which is also an election, not of means (or intermediate ends) but rather of ends. Abbà also refers to this same idea —that ethics can be undertaken only by considering the acting subject’s point of view: op. cit., pp. 107-113. And this is the point which to one degree or another is postponed in consequentialist or "teleological" ethics, as we shall say further on.

37 "Multa, secundum quod sunt distincta, non possunt simul intelligi; sed secundum quod uniuntur in uno intelligibili, sic simul intelliguntur", S. Th., I, q. 58, a. 2, c. This reasoning, which St. Thomas applies to the act of the intellect, can equally be applied to the act of the will, which also has an intentional nature.

38 Cf. McCormick, op. cit., , p 496.

39 "Non oportet quod semper ex fine insit homini necessitas ad eligendum ea quod sunt ad finem: quia non omne quod est ad finem, tale est ut sine eo finis haberi non possit; aut, si tale sit, non semper sub tali rationi consideratur", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 13, a. 6, ad 1. "The consideration of these consequences, and also of intentions, is not sufficient for judging the moral quality of a concrete choice. The weighing of the goods and evils foreseeable as the consequence of an action is not an adequate method for determining whether the choice of that concrete kind of behavior is ‘according to its species’, or ‘in itself’, morally good or bad, licit or illicit", Veritatis Splendor, n. 77. As can be observed,Veritatis Splendor prefers to speak of "election", instead of using "decision", as we are doing, and St. Thomas does the same (cf. S. Th.,Iª-IIae, q. 13). In any event the meaning of these two terms in this respect, as is obvious, is practically the same.

40 "The object of the act of willing is in fact a freely chosen kind of behavior", Veritatis Splendor, n. 78. "Electio semper est humanorum actuum", S. Th. Iª-IIae, q. 13, a 4, c in fine.

41 Given this impossibility, to speak of premoral goods or values is to contradict. Rhonheimer analyses in detail the incongruences of describing human action only on the basis of deeds or events and concludes one must always recur to the interior of the agent in order to be able to describe the agent’s actions. Cf. op. cit., especially pp. 11ff. In fact, McCormick, in his criticism of Hittinger’s commentary on Veritatis Splendor, is completely correct in this respect: what allows us to describe an action is that which makes it human; nevertheless, in giving the example "self-stimulation for sperm testing is a different human act from self-pleasuring", he shows that he has not been correct in seeing the moral object, the "what" of the decision, and that he reduces said "what" to the intention, whereas, as can be deduced, the action would wind up as reduced to a mere physical event. Cf. McCormick, Some early., p. 495.

42 "Obiectum non est materia ex qua, sed materiacirca quam: et habet quodammodum rationem formae, inquantum dat speciem",S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 2, ad 2. For this reason, the moral object is not a physical description of the action, but its human description.Upon viewing the physical action of a person we can suspect what he is doing, but we cannot arrive at full and certain knowledge. Thus producing the death of a person can be "self-defense", "murder", "do justice", etc.: these are descriptions of the decision of will which is realized in the physical action from the moral point of view: "by the object of a given moral act, then, one cannot mean a process or an event of the merely physical order.", (Veritatis Splendor, n. 78).

43 Cf. the introduction to the second section.

44 "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", Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1761, quoted in Veritatis Splendor, n. 78.

45 "Whoever looks upon a woman desiring her has already committed adultery with her in his heart", Mt. 5,28.

46 "Si autem loquamur de bonitate actus exterioris quam habet secundum materiam et debitas circumstantias, sic comparatur ad voluntatem ut terminus et finis. Et hoc modo addit ad bonitatem vel malitiam voluntatis: quia omnis inclinatio vel motus perficitur in hoc quod consequitur finem, vel attingit terminum", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 4, c.

47 This confusion of the moral object with the physical act is not casual, since it derives from the platonism underlying moral theology of essentialist inspiration. This confusion parallels the ambiguity which platonism has to sustain with respect to the nature of the Ideas. Although it would require too much time and space to demonstrate here in a detailed manner, we can at least outline the platonic ambiguity of the game: Platonism supposes that the Ideas are principles which explain reality; nevertheless, seen from an Aristotelian perspective, Platonic ideas encompass both the formal principles (the quid of things) and the material principles (the universality of the constitutive elements of things): the Ideas are ambiguous and are paradoxically situated between the eidetic and the material (cf. Metaphysics, 991b, 992b and 1080a). For this reason, it is generally seen that platonizing philosophies carry out a "material" composition of things based upon Ideas, which are apparently immaterial principles. This same ambiguity occurs in the essentialist consideration of the moral object, which at times considers the act of the will (and has eidetic nature) and at times is made the equivalent of physical action (and has a material nature).

48 This is, in part, Schüller’s posture, who affirms that bad means can be accepted if the end is good. Thus he gives the example of the action of a doctor who must wound in order to heal his patient (undertaken a surgical intervention). This bad mean is acceptable if the end is good (healing). And the moral principle of not inflicting lesions has to admit exceptions. Cf. Bruno Schüller, Wholly Human. Essays on the Theory and Language of Morality. Georgetown University Press 1986, 220 pp., pp. 150-160. Schüller loses sight of the fact that by operating, the doctor is doing something good (the quid of his decision is surgical treatment, and it is good), although the action could appear injurious and bad. The doctor does well and there are no exceptions to moral principles.

49 "Tradition teaches ... that certain types of election and intention are incompatible with the love of God and the search for the Kingdom because they are incompatible with love of human good. .... similar elections and intention must simply be excluded from our deliberation and election", John Finnis, Absolutos morales. Barcelona, Eiunsa 1992, pp. 65-66. In a somewhat different vein and in a more detailed manner the same idea can be found in Pinckaers (Universalité et permanence des lois morales. Fribourg, Editions Universitaires 1986, 454 pp., andCe qu’on en peut jamais faire: la question de actes intrinsèquement mauvais. Histoire et discussion. Fribourg, Editions Universitaires 1986, 139 pp.).

50 As is evident, this action supposes no difficulties for common sense: it knows that someone who kills in self-defense was not aspiring to kill, and that he acted well, although less so than if in his defense he had been able to repel the aggressor without killing him. But from the theoretical-essentialist point of view, the solution to this case is quite problematic. On the other hand, approval of defensive behavior does not deny that in certain cases non-defensive conduct could be good, reasonable, required by charity and even heroic.

51 Veritatis Splendor, n. 82, specifically employs the expression "objective moral order", which it takes from the declarationDignitatis humanae.

52 "The morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the ‘object’ rationally chosen by the deliberate will",Veritatis Splendor, n. 78.

53 "An intention is good when it has as its aim the true good of the person in view of his ultimate end", Veritatis Splendor, n. 82.

54 To a certain extent the difficulties of teleological or consequentialist ethics in accepting immutable moral principles are derived from this attempt to base morality in physical reality, which explains the constant references of these ethics to premoral or ontological goods and evils, that is, to the good not completely but to a certain point moral contained in physical deeds considered in themselves. This moral weight of physical deeds is combined without problems with allocating to the intention of the end another part of moral weight, but not with allocating to the election of means. Cf. Schüller, op. cit., and Die Begründung sittlicher Urteile, Düsseldorf, Patmos 1973. A more difficult position, which sustains simultaneously the moral weight of the physical deeds and of the intention, and which recognizes although tenuously the moral repercussions of election, can be found in R. A. McCormick, Ambiguity in Moral Choice (Pere Marquette Lecture in Theology, 1973). Milwaukee, Marquette University 1973.

55 "Plenitudo bonitatis eius [actionis] non tota consistit in sua specie, sed aliquid additur ex his quae adveniunt tanquam accidentia quaedam. Et huiusmodi sunt circumstantiae debitae. Unde si aliquid desit quod requiratur ad debitas circumstantias, erit actio mala", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 3, c. Every classical manual commentating on St. Thomas make reference to this element. In addition to the sense of the term "circumstances" which we here explain, there is a second, distinct sense, also present in St. Thomas, which we will analyze in section d), 4.

56 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 10, c.

57 Ibid.

58 Cf. Veritatis Splendor, nn. 74, 77, 80 and 81.

59 Ibid., n. 76.

60 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 8, c.

61 Ibid., q. 18, a. 9, c.

62 "Respondeo dicendum quod eventus sequens aut est praecogitatus, aut non. Si est praecogitatus, manifestum est quod addit ad bonitatem vel malitiam. Cum enim aliquis cogitans quod ex opere suo multa mala possunt sequi, nec propter hoc dimittit, ex hoc apparet voluntas eius esse magis inordinata.

Si autem eventus sequens non sit praecogitatus, tunc distinguendum est. Quia si per se sequitur ex tali actu, et ut in pluribus, secundum hoc eventus sequens addit ad bonitatem vel malitiam actus: manifestum est enim meliorem actum esse ex suo genere, ex quo possunt plura bona sequi; et peiorem, ex quo nata sunt plura mala sequi. Si vero per accidens, et ut in paucioribus, tunc eventus sequens non addit ad bonitatem vel ad malitiam actus: non enim datur iudicium de re aliqua secundum illud quod est per accidens, sed solum secundum illud quod est per se", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 5, c.

63 Cf. Veritatis Splendor, nn. 71-77.

64 Cf. S. Th., q. 8, a. 2, c. and note 13.

65 "Morales autem actus recipiunt speciem secundum id quod intenditur, non autem eo quod est praeter intentionem, cum sit per accidens",S. Th., IIª-IIae, q. 64, a. 7, c. Here intentionemmust be understood in an ample sense: everything that does not fall within the act of the will, which is intentional. Cf. S. Th., IIª-IIae, q. 43, a. 3, c.

66 Speaking of the death of person which is the accidental result of an action, after saying that it is non-imputable to the subject, and thus it is not sin, St. Thomas affirms: "Contingit tamen id quod non est actu et per se volitum et intentum, esse per accidens volitum et intentum, secundum quod causa per accidens dicitur removens prohibens. Unde ille qui non removet ea ex quibus sequitur homicidium, si debeat removere, erit quodammodo homicidium voluntarium" (S. Th., IIª-IIae, q. 64, a. 8, c). That is, effects which follow actions are voluntary, although in a sense particular: when they are non desired effects, the language uses the term tolerate. Tolerated effects are in their own way voluntary. Cf. also section II, d) 6.

67 Among recent scholars, Grisez is the one who has best systematized this connection between voluntariness and tolerated effects. Cf. The Way ..., ch. 6, pp. 141-172 and Grisez-Shaw, Fulfillment ., ch. 6, pp. 69-74.

68 "Eventus sequens aut est praecogitatus, aut non. Si est praecogitatus, manifestum est quod addit ad bonitatem vel malitiam",S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 5, c.

69 Or at least to be reasonably foreseeable, which ends up being the same, since we have admitted that foresight must precede action. Even if the agent does not foresee the effects that always or largely follow his action, he is nevertheless responsible for them, even though he was not conscious of them when acting. See. section III, d) 6.

70 In Thomistic terminology, it must be an effect per se and not per accidens. Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 5, c. (and the text in note 62).

71 Cf. Section II, c) 2 and note 42.

72 Consequentialists think that correct moral acting has for its object obtaining a desirable state of affairs. With this supposition they always find situations in which normally admitted moral principles can, and even must, be violated, in order to secure the greater good desired. And under this supposition they affirm as well that those who defend immutable moral principles —the "deontologists"—do not seem to understand what is being discussed (cf. Schüller, Wholly ..., p. 166). The problem is rather the inverse: with the intent of obtaining a desirable state of affairs no one is in condition to analyze the goodness of the will that moves toward action, and for this reason the consequentialists cannot understand objective morality. The work of Finnis, Boyle and Grisez Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism (Oxford, Clarendon Press 1987, 429 pp.) shows very well the differences between objective and consequentialist moralities using the analysis of the concrete case of the Cold War with its nuclear threats.

73 In order to evaluate as correct or incorrect an action which per se produces undesirable effects, St. Thomas mentions only the proportion with the intended end: "Potest tamen aliquis actus ex bona intentione proveniens illicitus reddi si non sit proportionatus fini", S. Th., IIª-IIae, q. 64, a. 7, c). See also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2269, in fine. Knauer also speaks of this proportion, taking it from the formulation of the principle of double effect, but he does not refer it to the goodness of the will but rather of the desired state of affairs, made up of premoral goods or values (op. cit., pp. 59-60). The result of this initial bias can be deleterious for a correct moral consideration of concrete actions, even despite whatever precautions are taken (universal formulation and respect for values taken as a whole).

74 Cf., for example, S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 20, a. 4, c: "si autem loquamur de bonitate actus exterioris quam habet secundum materiam et debitas circumstantias ...". Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 7.

75 Cf. Veritatis Splendor, nn. 74, 77, 80 and 81.

76 Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1754.

77 In the words of the Catechism, "the circumstances(including the consequences), are secondary elements of the moral act",ibid. As can be deduced from this definition, the meaning employed here is more ample than the stricter and more technical meaning which we have previously employed. The initial definition St. Thomas gives to circumstances is assimilable to that of the Catechism: "et ideo quaecumque conditiones sunt extra substantiam actus, et tamen attingunt aliquo modo actum humanum, circumstantiae dicuntur", S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 7, a. 1, c.

78 This is the classical circumstance cur. Cf.S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 7, aa. 3 and 4.

79 They would be circumstances in a restricted sense, as we have been using the term up until now. Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, a. 10.

80 Which would be the circumstance quid: "Circumstantia dicitur quod, extra substantiam actus existens, aliquo modo attingit ipsum. Contingit autem hoc fieri tripliciter...; tertio modo, inquantum attingit effectum. ... Ex parte autem effectus, ut cum consideratur quid aliquis fecerit",S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 7, a. 3, c.

81 "In order to be able to grasp the object of an act which specifies that act morally, it is therefore necessary to place oneselfin the perspective of the acting person",Veritatis Splendor, n. 78. Although we have previously cited this text we repeat the citation due to its importance. See section II, b).

82 Cf. the previous section.

83 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 18, aa. 2, 3 and 4. The work of A. Fernández, El principio de la acción de doble efecto (doctoral thesis, Pamplona 1983) has been helpful in elaborating this and the following section.

84 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 6, a. 3, c.

85 Ibid.

86 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 77, a. 7, c.

87 Cf. S. Th., I Iª-IIae, q. 64, a. 7, c. See also section II, d) 3.

88 Spaemann, R., Los efectos secundarios como problema moral. In Crítica de las utopías políticas (Biblioteca Temas Nuestro Tiempo, v. 50) Eunsa, Pamplona 1980, pp. 289-313.

89 Cf. Alejandro Llano. Complejidad creciente y crisis de gobernabilidad. In La nueva sensibilidad, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid 1988, pp. 27-39.

90 Cf. S. Th., Iª-IIae, q. 97, a. 2, c. In this article St. Thomas refers to the problems created by new laws which interfere with acquired customs and cause the law globally considered to lose its force. For this reason he advocates that legal changes be introduced only if there be great necessity of reform. As is evident, the loss of a law’s force because of its contradicting custom is a secondary effect of a new regulation which considered in itself could be good and appropriate.

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