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MORAL THEOLOGY

DYNAMICS OF HUMAN
ACTIONS
Acts of Man
• They comprise all
spontaneous biological
and sensual processes
like nutrition, breathing,
sensual impressions;
• all acts performed by
those who have not the
use of reason like people
asleep, lunatics, drunken
people;
• all spontaneous reactions
which precede the
activity of the will and
intellect, like first
reactions of anger.
Human Acts

• They are actions which


proceed from insight
and free will.
• They are to be
distinguished from the
acts of man which are
performed without
intervention of
intellect and free will.
Forced Acts
• Acts, though
effected with some
insights and
cooperation of the
intellect, are carried
out against a man’s
personal decision
and will.
• C. Henry Peschke S.V.D., Dublin:
C. Goodliffe Neale, 1975, p.185.
Constituent Elements
• TRADITIONAL
CONCEPT
Traditionally a
human act is such
based on the ff:
• Knowledge
A human act
proceeds from a
deliberate will which
requires deliberation.
No human act is
possible without
knowledge.
Traditional Concepts
• Freedom
The ability to affirm
one’s own being in
spite of all internal
impulse and external
pressures.
• Voluntariness
An act which
proceeds from free will
acting in the light of
knowledge.
Since every human act
is a free will act, every
human act is voluntary.
KINDS OF VOLUNTARY ACT
 PERFECT – done with full knowledge
and full consent of the agent
 IMPERFECT – done with some defect
in the knowledge or consent or both
 DIRECT – intended in itself by the
agent
 INDIRECT – not intended by the agent
but is the result or effect of another act
directly intended
DIRECT AND INDIRECT VOLUNTARINESS

• DIRECT
VOLUNTARINESS
Direct voluntariness
is present in a human
act where the foreseen
result of another act is
directly willed by the
person.
Indirect Voluntariness
• WHEN IS THE AGENT
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
EVIL EFFECT OF A
CAUSE DIRECTLY
WILLED?
One is responsible when
three conditions are fulfilled
under the PRINCIPLE OF
INDIRECT VOLUNTARY
ACT, namely:
Principle of Indirect Voluntary Act

• The agent must be able to


foresee the evil effect at least
in a general way
• The agent must be free to
refrain from doing that which is
the cause of the evil effect
• The agent must be morally
bound not to do that which is
the cause of the evil effect.
PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE-EFFECT
 The act must be good in itself or at
least morally indifferent.
 The evil effect must not precede
the good effect. At least, they should
happen simultaneously.
 There must be sufficient reason for
doing the act. The good effect is
more important or at least equally
important with the bad effect. The act
is the only means of achieving the
good effect.
 The intention of the agent must be
honest.
Obstacles to Voluntariness

• Ignorance
• Error
• Inattention
Ignorance
• Lack of required
knowledge in man. The
same ignorance can be:
• VINCIBLE
Ignorance that can be
dispelled by reasonable
diligence or due to
circumstances.
• It does not take away the
voluntariness of the human
act or its omission.
Ignorance
• INVINCIBLE
The ignorance that man is
not able to dispel by
reasonable diligence or due
to circumstances.
• It prevents the human act
from being voluntary in
regard to that which is not
known.
• Thus, the person is
inculpable in the
performance of his action.
Ignorance
• AFFECTED
Ignorance that can
easily be dispelled by
diligence and yet the
agent is not making
serious effort to remove
such ignorance.
o Affected ignorance
increases the
responsibility of the
person.
Error
• Habitual privation of
knowledge and insight
that is caused by
deficient education, bad
company influence,
reading of misleading
books and papers, etc.
• Man is challenged to
overcome the errors by
personal search for the
truth so as to prevent
negative and misguiding
views.
Inattention
• An actual, momentary
privation of
knowledge.
• A perfect human act is
only performed when
full attention is had of
what one is doing.
• The same privation
does not remove
responsibility.
Obstacles to Free Consent

• Passion or Emotions
• Fear
• Violence
• Habits or Dispositions
• Influence of
Unconscious
Motivation
Emotions
• Movement of the
sensitive appetite which
is produced by good or
evil as apprehended by
the imagination. In this
sense, it has no
connotation of evil.
• Emotions become
destructive and evil
when its force is not
controlled by reason.
Kinds of Emotion
• ANTECEDENT
Emotions that precede
the action of the will and
at the same time induces
the will to consent. This
takes places in
involuntary movements.
 Antecedent emotions
always lessens
voluntariness and
sometimes precludes it
completely.
Kinds of Emotion
• CONSEQUENT
Follows the free
determination of the will
and is either freely
admitted and consented to
or deliberately aroused.
• Consequent emotions
does not lessen
voluntariness.
• It is either good or bad.
• It is freely accepted or
even deliberately aroused.
Fear
• It is the shrinking back of
the mind on account of an
impending evil.
• Inasmuch as it is caused
by a grave evil which one
cannot escape or by a
slight evil one can easily
avoid it is either slight or
grave.
• Fear does not destroy
voluntariness of action; it
usually lessens its guilt as
well as its merits.
Violence
• It is a compulsive
influence by some
extrinsic agent compelling
one to do something
against his will.
• It is not caused by moral
force but only by the
compulsive force of some
psychic or physical agent.
It cannot reach the will
directly. It forces bodily
action.
Kinds of Violence

• ABSOLUTE
If the will dissents totally
and resists as best as it
can.
• Absolute violence
excludes any
voluntariness from the
forced actions.
• The reason is that lack of
consent precludes human
act and consequently
imputability.
Kinds of Violence
• RELATIVE
The will dissents only
partially or weakly and
is perhaps deficient in
its external resistance.
• Relative violence does
not impair voluntariness
completely but lessens
it.
• Voluntariness is not
completely taken away
since there is partial
consent of the will.
Habits and Dispositions
• The facility and readiness
of acting on a certain
manner acquired by
repeated acts.
• Man is not without
responsibility for the
development and retention of
his habits.
• A deliberately admitted habit
does not lessen voluntariness
and actions resulting
therefrom are voluntary at
least in cause.
Unconscious Motivation
• The dynamic unconscious
can leave behind lasting
anxiety, inhibitions and
defense reactions.
• The balanced tension
between the instinctive
impulses and the “super-
ego” can be upset by the
permissiveness or rigidity
in upbringing.
• Sudden shocking events
may even may affect or
even paralyze growth.
Unconscious Motivation
• Deliberate acts of the will
may be influenced by the
unconscious.
• But to influence is not to
compel. It exerts its
pressure on the human will
without necessarily forcing
it.
• On the other hand,
allowance should be made
for the functioning of
unconscious psychic
mechanisms that may
reduce responsibility.
References:
• Lecture Presentation on Morals by Fr. Rodel Aligan, OP
• Christian Ethics by K.H. Peschke