THE MORALITY OF HUMAN ACTS
I. HUMAN ACTS AND ACTS OF MAN
Human Acts are different from Acts of man. We cannot talk about goodness and badness of an act if we are dealing with acts of man. Only with human acts can we determined whether an act is moral or immoral. Acts of man are:
acts that happen “naturally”
acts done without self-awareness
without deliberation, reflection, consent
acts that human beings share with other animals
acts with conscious knowledge
acts that are done freely
acts done with consent
Human acts are those that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience. Human acts are actions that proceed from insight into the nature and purpose of one’s doing from the consent of the will (Peschke) They are either good or evil.
Essential Attributes of Human Acts: Intellect, free will, and voluntariness or consent The act must be deliberate; with consciousness and knowledge (intellect) The act must be performed in freedom (free will)
The act must be done voluntarily (Consent)
III. MODIFIERS OF HUMAN ACTS
Modifiers are factors or conditions that affect human acts in the essential qualities of knowledge, freedom and voluntariness. Lack of knowledge or impairment of intellect may affect human act An internal condition or external agent or situation may affect the freedom of the person doing the act An internal condition or external agent or situation may affect the voluntariness or consent of the person doing the act Some acts wherein the doer may not be morally accountable
Acts of persons asleep or under hypnosis.
Reflex actions where the will has no time to intervene.
Acts of performed under serious physical violence
e.g. a hostage obliged to do an evil action. Since the will is constrained, then it is not a moral act which could be evaluated.
Modifiers of Human Act
It is the absence of necessary knowledge which a person in a given situation performing an act ought to have. Vincible Ignorance – lack of knowledge can be remedied; one has to exert effort to get rid of his/her lack of knowledge Invincible Ignorance – one is not aware of his/her ignorance and has no means or capacity to correct or solve it.
Principles Governing Ignorance
A person performing an act based in invincible ignorance is doing an involuntary act and is therefore not morally responsible / liable. Vincible ignorance does not destroy but lessens the voluntariness and corresponding accountability of the act. Acting with vincible ignorance is imprudent. Responsibility depends on: effort to obtain information, gravity of the matter, and the obligation of the concerned person. Pretended ignorance does not excuse a person from her/his bad actions. On the contrary, it increases his/her malice.
2. Passion or Concupiscence
It is a strong feeling or emotion; bodily tendencies as experienced and expressed in fear, love, hatred, despair, horror, sadness, anger, grief, etc. (eg. Intense anger, jealousy, joy)
It Includes both positive and negative emotions and is tending either towards desirable or undesirable /harmful things. (eg. An intense anger may lead the person to kill another)
2 Kinds of Passion
those that precede the act, arousing and predisposing the person to do the act. (eg. an extremely angry wife immediately and “unknowingly” shot her husband upon seeing him on bed with another man) Principle Governing Antecedent Passion:
And antecedent passion does not always destroys voluntariness but diminishes accountability of the resultant act. It weakens the person’s will power without completely obstructing freedom. Consequent Passion
Consequent Passions are direct results of the will which consents to them instead of controlling them (eg. a jealous boyfriend allowed his feeling of anger to intensify for a week leading him to box a friend in public) Principle Governing Consequent...
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